Men at Work stories

One of my students is doing an internship with William Bennet and has asked for my help. I thought I’d tap into you readers of this blog, who always manage to come up with some really good ideas on just about every subject. I’ll let the student explain what he needs:

I am working on a research project for Mr. William Bennett on Manliness and I was wondering if you could point me in the right direction.

The book is divided into various sections of manliness, such as Men at War, Men at Play, etc.

We are currently looking for excerpts from literature, history, biographical, and essays, from all of human history (I know, a rather modest goal) that deal with Men at Work. These excerpts should ideally depict good men with an exceptional work ethic. But they can also show the negative as an example of what NOT to do.

Are there any quotes, essays, stories, or great men from history that have inspired you to work hard and that depict good, hard working men? I know your specialty is English Literature. Are there maybe one or two examples from your field that exemplify hard work?

Any help at all would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your time.

So we are looking for writings about men acting in vocation, specifically, the workplace. I thought of Hemingway’s “Old Man and the Sea.” What else

UPDATE:  My student and Mr. Bennett won’t be able to anthologize whole books, so are there episodes in specific novels that would be good to use?  (For example, I cited the scene in Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” in which Ivan builds a brick wall and how that honest, satisfying, constructive labor gave him a sense of meaning even in the indignities of the Soviet prison camp.)  He could also use examples from non-fiction (Studs Terkel’s “Working,” as has been mentioned), as well as quotations, etc.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Nathaniel Fick One Bullet Away, the story of a Dartmouth College student in his junior year who after 9/11 decided to become a Marine officer. The book describes the excruciating rigor of Quantico training to become a Marine officer and his subsequent combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer (Hardcover)
    ~ Nathaniel C. Fick (Author) “FIFTEEN OF US climbed aboard the ancient white school bus…” (more)
    Key Phrases: ranger graves, parade deck, chem lights, Gunny Wynn, Marine Corps, Captain Whitmer (more…)

  • Peter Leavitt

    Nathaniel Fick One Bullet Away, the story of a Dartmouth College student in his junior year who after 9/11 decided to become a Marine officer. The book describes the excruciating rigor of Quantico training to become a Marine officer and his subsequent combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer (Hardcover)
    ~ Nathaniel C. Fick (Author) “FIFTEEN OF US climbed aboard the ancient white school bus…” (more)
    Key Phrases: ranger graves, parade deck, chem lights, Gunny Wynn, Marine Corps, Captain Whitmer (more…)

  • WebMonk

    http://artofmanliness.com/

    Lots of good ideas and articles in there.

  • WebMonk

    http://artofmanliness.com/

    Lots of good ideas and articles in there.

  • Mary McCleary

    I was going to list http://www.artofmanliness.com but see WebMonk beat me. It’s an impressive site.

  • Mary McCleary

    I was going to list http://www.artofmanliness.com but see WebMonk beat me. It’s an impressive site.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus at the plow seems to fit the bill–for his vocation as dictator as well as his diligence at household labor.

  • Dan Kempin

    Cincinnatus at the plow seems to fit the bill–for his vocation as dictator as well as his diligence at household labor.

  • Dan Van Uffelen

    Rudyard Kipling’s CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is the best literary example of manliness in the workplace I have ever come across. Captain Disko Troop epitomizes a manly work ethic as a fisherman on the Atlantic. By book’s end, protagonist Harvey Cheyne develops from a spoiled boy to a hardworking man. Kipling’s praise of hard work and manliness splashes from every page of this unforgettable classic.

  • Dan Van Uffelen

    Rudyard Kipling’s CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS is the best literary example of manliness in the workplace I have ever come across. Captain Disko Troop epitomizes a manly work ethic as a fisherman on the Atlantic. By book’s end, protagonist Harvey Cheyne develops from a spoiled boy to a hardworking man. Kipling’s praise of hard work and manliness splashes from every page of this unforgettable classic.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    The entire Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder shows her father and then her husband hard at work, doing whatever kind of work was necessary to provide for their families.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    The entire Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder shows her father and then her husband hard at work, doing whatever kind of work was necessary to provide for their families.

  • Kirk

    Some of the literature out of WWI provides complex and nuanced examples of men at work. Books like All Quiet on the Western Front and Goodbye to All that and poems by Wilfred Owen and Sigfried Sassoon are autobiographies of men fighting and performing their duties, yet loathing the horrors of war and the futility of nationalism. None of them give a black and white “this work is good, this work is bad” narrative, but I find there’s something distinctly masculine in taking a realistic view of your work, even if it’s negative.

  • Kirk

    Some of the literature out of WWI provides complex and nuanced examples of men at work. Books like All Quiet on the Western Front and Goodbye to All that and poems by Wilfred Owen and Sigfried Sassoon are autobiographies of men fighting and performing their duties, yet loathing the horrors of war and the futility of nationalism. None of them give a black and white “this work is good, this work is bad” narrative, but I find there’s something distinctly masculine in taking a realistic view of your work, even if it’s negative.

  • Sandi

    Amos Fortune , free man by Elizabeth Yates. Wonderful true story of a man who worked to gang freedom for himself and his family.
    (childrens story-but full of inspiration)

  • Sandi

    Amos Fortune , free man by Elizabeth Yates. Wonderful true story of a man who worked to gang freedom for himself and his family.
    (childrens story-but full of inspiration)

  • Economist Doug

    Studs Terkel’s “Working” is probably worth a look. It contains narratives of dozens of people in various professions about their jobs.

  • Economist Doug

    Studs Terkel’s “Working” is probably worth a look. It contains narratives of dozens of people in various professions about their jobs.

  • http://www.cumberlandisland.blogspot.com Adrian Keister

    I’d put in a bid for Gregory Wilbur’s Glory and Honor: The Music and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach as an example of a man whose work was totally sold out to God.

  • http://www.cumberlandisland.blogspot.com Adrian Keister

    I’d put in a bid for Gregory Wilbur’s Glory and Honor: The Music and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach as an example of a man whose work was totally sold out to God.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If the student looks a bit, a bigger library might have a copy of Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men” that looks at the vocation of the infantryman. There is an awful lot of decent stuff from the 1930-1960 era; it’s not all great literature, but there was at least the attempt to point young men in the right direction.

    And for a spoof of it, go to http://www.lileks.com, or get a copy of one of James Lileks’ books.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    If the student looks a bit, a bigger library might have a copy of Ernie Pyle’s “Brave Men” that looks at the vocation of the infantryman. There is an awful lot of decent stuff from the 1930-1960 era; it’s not all great literature, but there was at least the attempt to point young men in the right direction.

    And for a spoof of it, go to http://www.lileks.com, or get a copy of one of James Lileks’ books.

  • http://www.themundanemuse.blogspot.com/ Jeremy Larson

    Does Jesus count?

  • http://www.themundanemuse.blogspot.com/ Jeremy Larson

    Does Jesus count?

  • Dan Kempin

    Dan, #5,

    GREAT call on Captains Courageous! I knew there was a perfect match floating in the back of my mind somewhere, and I think you nailed it. This book is about the essence of manliness.

  • Dan Kempin

    Dan, #5,

    GREAT call on Captains Courageous! I knew there was a perfect match floating in the back of my mind somewhere, and I think you nailed it. This book is about the essence of manliness.

  • Kirk

    Oh! Can’t believe no one has said this: Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. It might be a little cliched, but there are few more admirable examples of a man working for good.

    Then, on the opposite side of virtue, there’s All the Kings Men

  • Kirk

    Oh! Can’t believe no one has said this: Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird. It might be a little cliched, but there are few more admirable examples of a man working for good.

    Then, on the opposite side of virtue, there’s All the Kings Men

  • Orianna Laun

    I was also going to recommend Pa of the Little House series. What about Captain Sully who brought his plane safely down on the Hudson?

  • Orianna Laun

    I was also going to recommend Pa of the Little House series. What about Captain Sully who brought his plane safely down on the Hudson?

  • Steven

    I would recommend the biography of J.J. Hill, an extraordinarily talented man who helped open the Plains and the West to settlement. One is here: http://www.amazon.com/James-Opening-Northwest-Borealis-Books/dp/0873512618.

  • Steven

    I would recommend the biography of J.J. Hill, an extraordinarily talented man who helped open the Plains and the West to settlement. One is here: http://www.amazon.com/James-Opening-Northwest-Borealis-Books/dp/0873512618.

  • Gordon Heselton

    Perhaps one might consider Dr. Luther as a suitable subject. He not only clarified the concept of vocation for Christians, he modeled it as a church leader, pastor, teacher, diplomat, husband, father, etc.

  • Gordon Heselton

    Perhaps one might consider Dr. Luther as a suitable subject. He not only clarified the concept of vocation for Christians, he modeled it as a church leader, pastor, teacher, diplomat, husband, father, etc.

  • Steve in Toronto

    You would be hard pressed to find a better account of working in a restaurant then Orwell’s “Down and Out in London and Paris” and although I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head there are a ton of wonderful (if a bit idealized and sentimental) Victorian painters who specialized in portraits of working class life.

  • Steve in Toronto

    You would be hard pressed to find a better account of working in a restaurant then Orwell’s “Down and Out in London and Paris” and although I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head there are a ton of wonderful (if a bit idealized and sentimental) Victorian painters who specialized in portraits of working class life.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Knights-Rhodes-Bo-Giertz/dp/1608993337/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270823961&sr=8-3 Bror Erickson

    If Dr. Veith will allow another shameless plug, The Knights of Rhodes” enfleshes the Lutheran Theology of the Cross with a narrative that celebrates vocation (the Lutheran theology of it that was resurrected in the 20th century by Bo Giertz’s contemporary compatriot, Gustaf Wingren.) Here is but one excerpt that extols the virtue of a man doing his job well:
    “I wonder,” said the Venetian, “We have a man in Crete who can outdo whoever he wants.”
    “Who would that be”?
    “His name is Martinengo Gabriele Tadini da Martinengo. He was sent by the signor in order to look over our fortresses. He looks at fortresses the way we others look at women. It is immediately clear to him what a person needs to do to conquer them or to stop those who will try it. He sees exactly where the balls will hit, and what needs to be done for protection. You can ask him to calculate with twenty pieces or a hundred. He knows at once where to place them and what they can do.”

    That is just one of my more favorite passages from the book, perhaps not Sunday school material. Click on my name if you would like to buy the book.

  • http://www.amazon.com/Knights-Rhodes-Bo-Giertz/dp/1608993337/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1270823961&sr=8-3 Bror Erickson

    If Dr. Veith will allow another shameless plug, The Knights of Rhodes” enfleshes the Lutheran Theology of the Cross with a narrative that celebrates vocation (the Lutheran theology of it that was resurrected in the 20th century by Bo Giertz’s contemporary compatriot, Gustaf Wingren.) Here is but one excerpt that extols the virtue of a man doing his job well:
    “I wonder,” said the Venetian, “We have a man in Crete who can outdo whoever he wants.”
    “Who would that be”?
    “His name is Martinengo Gabriele Tadini da Martinengo. He was sent by the signor in order to look over our fortresses. He looks at fortresses the way we others look at women. It is immediately clear to him what a person needs to do to conquer them or to stop those who will try it. He sees exactly where the balls will hit, and what needs to be done for protection. You can ask him to calculate with twenty pieces or a hundred. He knows at once where to place them and what they can do.”

    That is just one of my more favorite passages from the book, perhaps not Sunday school material. Click on my name if you would like to buy the book.

  • S Bauer

    I always have thought Abraham Lincoln is a good example of manliness.

    The only other one I can think of is Homer Simpson.

  • S Bauer

    I always have thought Abraham Lincoln is a good example of manliness.

    The only other one I can think of is Homer Simpson.

  • Booklover

    Please forgive me for sidestepping the topic by not offering a literary example and instead offering a paean to real life men like my husband.

    His true calling was to be a football coach. However, he knew we wanted to raise a large family, and he felt that the salary of a teacher/coach would not be enough to support several children. So he went into business, and in his spare time volunteered as coach of several Little Guy football teams, leading three of them to victory in the city championships. His health is failing and his business is demanding, so he can no longer coach. But . . . he teaches a fifth and sixth grade Sunday School class regularly, which he says reminds him of the coaching job. He’s an “ordinary” man who sacrificed for his family, and now for his church community.

    I also second the Bach suggestion. :-)

  • Booklover

    Please forgive me for sidestepping the topic by not offering a literary example and instead offering a paean to real life men like my husband.

    His true calling was to be a football coach. However, he knew we wanted to raise a large family, and he felt that the salary of a teacher/coach would not be enough to support several children. So he went into business, and in his spare time volunteered as coach of several Little Guy football teams, leading three of them to victory in the city championships. His health is failing and his business is demanding, so he can no longer coach. But . . . he teaches a fifth and sixth grade Sunday School class regularly, which he says reminds him of the coaching job. He’s an “ordinary” man who sacrificed for his family, and now for his church community.

    I also second the Bach suggestion. :-)

  • Joe

    Frederick Douglass knew the art of being a man in a country that set out to rob black men of their manhood. In Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, he notes that Douglass “knew that the shame of slavery was not just the South’s, that the whole nation was complicit in it. On the Fourth of July, 1852, [Douglass] gave an Independence Day address:

    Fellow Citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?.. .

    “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. ‘In him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass- fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”

    It took courage to say that.

  • Joe

    Frederick Douglass knew the art of being a man in a country that set out to rob black men of their manhood. In Howard Zinn’s The People’s History of the United States, he notes that Douglass “knew that the shame of slavery was not just the South’s, that the whole nation was complicit in it. On the Fourth of July, 1852, [Douglass] gave an Independence Day address:

    Fellow Citizens: Pardon me, and allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here today? What have I or those I represent to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? And am I, therefore, called upon to bring our humble offering to the national altar, and to confess the benefits, and express devout gratitude for the blessings resulting from your independence to us?.. .

    “What to the American slave is your Fourth of July? I answer, a day that reveals to him more than all other days of the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim. ‘In him your celebration is a sham; your boasted liberty an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass- fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are to him mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy-a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages. There is not a nation of the earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of these United States at this very hour.”

    It took courage to say that.

  • Jonathan

    All the seasons of “Married With Children” are on DVD.

    Al Bundy is every man’s man.

  • Jonathan

    All the seasons of “Married With Children” are on DVD.

    Al Bundy is every man’s man.

  • Paul

    Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory

  • Paul

    Graham Greene – The Power and the Glory

  • Brenda

    an older book, Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts…Wiswell, a Tory acts bravely to save the loyalist folks being attacked by the “Rabble in Arms”, also another Roberts book that shows men and women working and fighting.

  • Brenda

    an older book, Oliver Wiswell, by Kenneth Roberts…Wiswell, a Tory acts bravely to save the loyalist folks being attacked by the “Rabble in Arms”, also another Roberts book that shows men and women working and fighting.

  • Gary

    I would recommend anything by Jack Schaefer. His writings often focus on his characters finding and fulfilling their place in the world. In Shane, I would focus on the Father, Joe Starret. Company of Cowards gives an interesting take on the vocation of soldier. Monte Walsh is a tale of what it takes to be a cowpoke. His short stories are undiscovered gems. He actually has one titled Takes a Real Man, which gives the tale of a mule-driver and the impact a preacher had on him. Great author, imho.

  • Gary

    I would recommend anything by Jack Schaefer. His writings often focus on his characters finding and fulfilling their place in the world. In Shane, I would focus on the Father, Joe Starret. Company of Cowards gives an interesting take on the vocation of soldier. Monte Walsh is a tale of what it takes to be a cowpoke. His short stories are undiscovered gems. He actually has one titled Takes a Real Man, which gives the tale of a mule-driver and the impact a preacher had on him. Great author, imho.

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” the episode in which Ivan’s hard work in building a wall gives him a sense of dignity even amidst the indignities of the Soviet prison camp.

    There is also a similar theme in “Bridge on the River Kwai,” which is a novel as well as a movie.

    Studs Terkel’s “Working,” as was mentioned, is a must-read for this project.

    Also another Hemingway story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”

  • http://www.geneveith.com Gene Veith

    Solzhenitsyn’s “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich,” the episode in which Ivan’s hard work in building a wall gives him a sense of dignity even amidst the indignities of the Soviet prison camp.

    There is also a similar theme in “Bridge on the River Kwai,” which is a novel as well as a movie.

    Studs Terkel’s “Working,” as was mentioned, is a must-read for this project.

    Also another Hemingway story, “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”

  • tODD

    The only thing I know about them is that they come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder. Other than that, I’m not too familiar with them.

    (I mean, really, I was the first person to think of that?)

  • tODD

    The only thing I know about them is that they come from a land down under, where beer does flow and men chunder. Other than that, I’m not too familiar with them.

    (I mean, really, I was the first person to think of that?)

  • Ryan

    James Herriot’s books (such as All Creatures Great and Small) have many wonderful examples both of veterinary work with large animals in England.

  • Ryan

    James Herriot’s books (such as All Creatures Great and Small) have many wonderful examples both of veterinary work with large animals in England.

  • molloaggie

    How about the father from “Cheaper by the Dozen”?

  • molloaggie

    How about the father from “Cheaper by the Dozen”?

  • Richard

    How about the Patrick O’Brian novels?

  • Richard

    How about the Patrick O’Brian novels?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I love Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well Lighted Place.” Reminds me of my days in Italy, spending long nights in such establishments passing the time away with friends going through hard times.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I love Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well Lighted Place.” Reminds me of my days in Italy, spending long nights in such establishments passing the time away with friends going through hard times.

  • Joe

    Veith nailed it with “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” I read that book in high school and it stuck with me. I am going to read it again now that the concept of vocation is so much clearer to me.

    tODD – that song has been running through my head all day long.

  • Joe

    Veith nailed it with “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.” I read that book in high school and it stuck with me. I am going to read it again now that the concept of vocation is so much clearer to me.

    tODD – that song has been running through my head all day long.

  • LAJ

    Then Darkness Fled The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington by Stephen Mansfield. He sought to teach his race the value and dignity of work. “Young men would reclaim the manly purity of toil, the ennobling force of hard labor completed.”

    “He was more than just another dreamer. He was a man who knew his goal, had a plan to get there, knew how to get others invested in his course, and knew how to assure that the outcome matched the ideals of the start. This made him exceptional among any race of men in any age. Indeed, Washington was a builder and both his people and his school reveal his skill to this day.”

  • LAJ

    Then Darkness Fled The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington by Stephen Mansfield. He sought to teach his race the value and dignity of work. “Young men would reclaim the manly purity of toil, the ennobling force of hard labor completed.”

    “He was more than just another dreamer. He was a man who knew his goal, had a plan to get there, knew how to get others invested in his course, and knew how to assure that the outcome matched the ideals of the start. This made him exceptional among any race of men in any age. Indeed, Washington was a builder and both his people and his school reveal his skill to this day.”

  • LAJ

    Booker T. Washington He worked hard, his students worked hard and they learned to value hard work. “Then Darkness Fled The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington” by Stephen Mansfield. Lots of great material there.

  • LAJ

    Booker T. Washington He worked hard, his students worked hard and they learned to value hard work. “Then Darkness Fled The Liberating Wisdom of Booker T. Washington” by Stephen Mansfield. Lots of great material there.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    Another example I just thought of is Nathaniel Bowditch in _Carry on, Mr. Bowditch_. This is one of my favorite children’s books. Mr. Bowditch meets many obstacles and works hard to overcome them or work hards at his second choice when his first choice doesn’t come through. Very inspiring.

    Oh! And Mr. Chips in _Good-bye, Mr. Chips_. A very endearing character who taught at a boys’ school in England for decades upon decades.

    A couple negative examples that come to mind are the fathers in _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_ and especially _Angela’s Ashes_.

  • http://womanofthehouse-blog.blogspot.com/ womanofthehouse

    Another example I just thought of is Nathaniel Bowditch in _Carry on, Mr. Bowditch_. This is one of my favorite children’s books. Mr. Bowditch meets many obstacles and works hard to overcome them or work hards at his second choice when his first choice doesn’t come through. Very inspiring.

    Oh! And Mr. Chips in _Good-bye, Mr. Chips_. A very endearing character who taught at a boys’ school in England for decades upon decades.

    A couple negative examples that come to mind are the fathers in _A Tree Grows in Brooklyn_ and especially _Angela’s Ashes_.

  • boaz

    Cato on Farming

    5. The manager’s instructions will be these.

    To behave well; to make sure they observe holidays; not to touch others’ property and carefully to look after the owner’s; to prevent household quarrels; if anyone misbehaves, to give proper punishment in proportion to damage done. The household should not be in poor condition, or sick, or hungry: the work should keep them busy, and it will then be easier to prevent mischief and theft. If the manager does not allow mischief, there will be none (and if he has allowed it, the owner must not let this pass unpunished). He must reward good behaviour, so that others will want to do well.

    The manager must not go about, he should be sober always and not dine out: he is to keep the household busy! He must take care that the owner’s instructions are effected, and must not suppose that he knows better than the owner. He must consider the owner’s friends his own, and must obey whomever he has been instructed to obey. He must not perform rites at cross-roads or hearth, except Compitalia, unless instructed by the owner.

    He must lend to no one but ensure that the owner’s loans are repaid. He must have no loans out to anyone, of seed for sowing, food, wheat, wine or oil: there should be two or three households from whom he can ask necessities and to whom he can give, but no others. He must regularly make up accounts with the owner. He must not engage the same tradesman or jobber for more than one day. He must not plan any sale unknown to the owner, or any business concealed from the owner. He must have no private friend; he must make appointments with no diviner, soothsayer, fortune-teller or magician. He must not cheat the grain-field, for that brings bad luck.

    He must ensure that he knows all the work of the farm, and must do it himself often, but not so much as to tire himself out. If he does this he will know what the household are thinking: and they, too, will work more willingly. If he does this he will be less inclined to go about, will keep healthier, and will sleep better. He must be the first up and the last to bed, having first seen that the buildings are shut up, that everyone is in bed in his proper place, and that the animals have fodder.

  • boaz

    Cato on Farming

    5. The manager’s instructions will be these.

    To behave well; to make sure they observe holidays; not to touch others’ property and carefully to look after the owner’s; to prevent household quarrels; if anyone misbehaves, to give proper punishment in proportion to damage done. The household should not be in poor condition, or sick, or hungry: the work should keep them busy, and it will then be easier to prevent mischief and theft. If the manager does not allow mischief, there will be none (and if he has allowed it, the owner must not let this pass unpunished). He must reward good behaviour, so that others will want to do well.

    The manager must not go about, he should be sober always and not dine out: he is to keep the household busy! He must take care that the owner’s instructions are effected, and must not suppose that he knows better than the owner. He must consider the owner’s friends his own, and must obey whomever he has been instructed to obey. He must not perform rites at cross-roads or hearth, except Compitalia, unless instructed by the owner.

    He must lend to no one but ensure that the owner’s loans are repaid. He must have no loans out to anyone, of seed for sowing, food, wheat, wine or oil: there should be two or three households from whom he can ask necessities and to whom he can give, but no others. He must regularly make up accounts with the owner. He must not engage the same tradesman or jobber for more than one day. He must not plan any sale unknown to the owner, or any business concealed from the owner. He must have no private friend; he must make appointments with no diviner, soothsayer, fortune-teller or magician. He must not cheat the grain-field, for that brings bad luck.

    He must ensure that he knows all the work of the farm, and must do it himself often, but not so much as to tire himself out. If he does this he will know what the household are thinking: and they, too, will work more willingly. If he does this he will be less inclined to go about, will keep healthier, and will sleep better. He must be the first up and the last to bed, having first seen that the buildings are shut up, that everyone is in bed in his proper place, and that the animals have fodder.

  • William

    Aesop’s Fables has a good story about hard work: “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. There are also stories about the folly of trying to get rich without work and about greed such as “The Goose that laid the Golden Egg” and “The Dog and the Bone”.

  • William

    Aesop’s Fables has a good story about hard work: “The Ant and the Grasshopper”. There are also stories about the folly of trying to get rich without work and about greed such as “The Goose that laid the Golden Egg” and “The Dog and the Bone”.

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    how about those who had the vision to work (as architects -craftsmen et.al) on the great Christian cathedrals – knowing that they would not live the 100+++ years to see their work completed,,,
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    how about those who had the vision to work (as architects -craftsmen et.al) on the great Christian cathedrals – knowing that they would not live the 100+++ years to see their work completed,,,
    C-CS

  • Pete

    George Will wrote a book entitled, aptly enough, “Men At Work” which dealt with the vocation of professional baseball player. He probingly interviewed several of the best players of the day (Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. – I think there was a catcher in there, too) as well as a manager (I think it was Tony LaRusso). Very interesting insight into some of the intricacies of the game.

  • Pete

    George Will wrote a book entitled, aptly enough, “Men At Work” which dealt with the vocation of professional baseball player. He probingly interviewed several of the best players of the day (Orel Hershiser, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken Jr. – I think there was a catcher in there, too) as well as a manager (I think it was Tony LaRusso). Very interesting insight into some of the intricacies of the game.

  • Jane

    Adam Bede in George Eliot’s book of the same name is admirable in his love for his work. It’s a great example because:
    *it acknowledges that pride in one’s work can be both heartening and dangerous
    *it avoids the legalism that is so easy to fall into when discussing what men should or shouldn’t do in this regard
    *Adam was a carpenter, and there’s much to be said for the symbolism that his work carries in light of his self-sacrificial grief later in the plot

    Sounds like a great collection – look forward to hearing when it’s done.

  • Jane

    Adam Bede in George Eliot’s book of the same name is admirable in his love for his work. It’s a great example because:
    *it acknowledges that pride in one’s work can be both heartening and dangerous
    *it avoids the legalism that is so easy to fall into when discussing what men should or shouldn’t do in this regard
    *Adam was a carpenter, and there’s much to be said for the symbolism that his work carries in light of his self-sacrificial grief later in the plot

    Sounds like a great collection – look forward to hearing when it’s done.

  • Mark Veenman

    Who is John Galt?

  • Mark Veenman

    Who is John Galt?

  • mike meyer

    Wow talk about serendipity I am doing a book on Robert Penn Warren and need to get in touch with Mark Mitchell, one of your professors. When I visited the website I was surprised indeed to see your name as provost. could you provide me with a professional or a personal e-mail for Dr. Mitchell please I ‘d like to reprint a piece he did on PennWarren — have retired from teaching after 5 years in Hong Kong and 12 at DePaul and now editing and writing Hope you are well. Mike if you are on Facebook add me I am curious how the years have treated you Best always

  • mike meyer

    Wow talk about serendipity I am doing a book on Robert Penn Warren and need to get in touch with Mark Mitchell, one of your professors. When I visited the website I was surprised indeed to see your name as provost. could you provide me with a professional or a personal e-mail for Dr. Mitchell please I ‘d like to reprint a piece he did on PennWarren — have retired from teaching after 5 years in Hong Kong and 12 at DePaul and now editing and writing Hope you are well. Mike if you are on Facebook add me I am curious how the years have treated you Best always

  • http://plauer.net plauer

    Not all work is manual labor. In the 5th Century BC, Sun Tzu wrote a military treatise that became a definitive work on military strategies. It demonstrates the “work” of a commander at war, caring not only for victory but for his country and his soldiers.

    See also “Reminiscences” by Douglas MacArthur.

  • http://plauer.net plauer

    Not all work is manual labor. In the 5th Century BC, Sun Tzu wrote a military treatise that became a definitive work on military strategies. It demonstrates the “work” of a commander at war, caring not only for victory but for his country and his soldiers.

    See also “Reminiscences” by Douglas MacArthur.

  • Economist Doug

    Robinson Crusoe displays a man at work recreating a varied agriculture by himself with few tools.

    I’ve always felt that book emphasized the work he did to a surprising extent.

  • Economist Doug

    Robinson Crusoe displays a man at work recreating a varied agriculture by himself with few tools.

    I’ve always felt that book emphasized the work he did to a surprising extent.

  • Economist Doug

    Just another thought following Robinson Crusoe.

    That book had a theme that we work with what God has given us (in resources, skills, time). Crusoe always gave thanks for the provisions and resources he still had.

    When we work fruitfully, we are being good stewards of what God has entrusted us with.

  • Economist Doug

    Just another thought following Robinson Crusoe.

    That book had a theme that we work with what God has given us (in resources, skills, time). Crusoe always gave thanks for the provisions and resources he still had.

    When we work fruitfully, we are being good stewards of what God has entrusted us with.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Though perhaps not directly relevant to what is being asked for, I like this from Rose Wilder Lane, who was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder and one of the founders of the Libertarian Party:

    Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been to much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting disease and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god — Society, The State, The Government, The Commune — must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.

  • http://mesamike.org Mike Westfall

    Though perhaps not directly relevant to what is being asked for, I like this from Rose Wilder Lane, who was the daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder and one of the founders of the Libertarian Party:

    Anyone who says that economic security is a human right, has been to much babied. While he babbles, other men are risking and losing their lives to protect him. They are fighting the sea, fighting the land, fighting disease and insects and weather and space and time, for him, while he chatters that all men have a right to security and that some pagan god — Society, The State, The Government, The Commune — must give it to them. Let the fighting men stop fighting this inhuman earth for one hour, and he will learn how much security there is.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Any biography of the great generals of WWII, including Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and MacArthur would do. Also, Creighton Abrams a tank battalion commander in WWII and a brilliant top commander in the Vietnam War, was a real man. StephenAmbrose’sCitizen Soldiers portrays the bravery and manliness of lower ranking front-line soldiers on the front line from D Day through the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine over to the Elbe.

    Friday Night Lights tells of the manly coaches and players who play high-school football in Texas.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Any biography of the great generals of WWII, including Marshall, Eisenhower, Patton, and MacArthur would do. Also, Creighton Abrams a tank battalion commander in WWII and a brilliant top commander in the Vietnam War, was a real man. StephenAmbrose’sCitizen Soldiers portrays the bravery and manliness of lower ranking front-line soldiers on the front line from D Day through the Battle of the Bulge and the crossing of the Rhine over to the Elbe.

    Friday Night Lights tells of the manly coaches and players who play high-school football in Texas.

  • http://www.emilywhitten.com Emily@Behind the Bookcase

    How about Jack Keroauc’s On the Road as an example of wasted manliness? It has influenced American culture tremendously–I know of one critic at least who has claimed it as the most influential American novel. Kerouac rebelled against the meaninglessness of work and culture without Christ, and yet the idols he chased couldn’t provide him with meaning either. Os Guiness gives a great picture of his genius in The Dust of Death.

  • http://www.emilywhitten.com Emily@Behind the Bookcase

    How about Jack Keroauc’s On the Road as an example of wasted manliness? It has influenced American culture tremendously–I know of one critic at least who has claimed it as the most influential American novel. Kerouac rebelled against the meaninglessness of work and culture without Christ, and yet the idols he chased couldn’t provide him with meaning either. Os Guiness gives a great picture of his genius in The Dust of Death.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Another portrayal of manliness is Marcus Lutrell’s recent book, Lone Survivor, an account of five Navy Seals on a mission in Afghanistan. Lutrell was the only survivor of the mission. He discusses in rich detail the severe Seal training and the circumstance that caused the leader of the Seals to make a politically correct decision that cost the lives of four of the Seals. Basically, the leader of the Seals decided not to kill some Afghani goat-herders who stumbled upon the Seals and later informed the Seal’s enemies of their location.

    Bottom line, this is a story of how even a Navy Seal commander fell prey to the feminization or wimpification of American culture, costing his own life and that of three other Seals. Fortunately Lutrell survived to tell the story.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Another portrayal of manliness is Marcus Lutrell’s recent book, Lone Survivor, an account of five Navy Seals on a mission in Afghanistan. Lutrell was the only survivor of the mission. He discusses in rich detail the severe Seal training and the circumstance that caused the leader of the Seals to make a politically correct decision that cost the lives of four of the Seals. Basically, the leader of the Seals decided not to kill some Afghani goat-herders who stumbled upon the Seals and later informed the Seal’s enemies of their location.

    Bottom line, this is a story of how even a Navy Seal commander fell prey to the feminization or wimpification of American culture, costing his own life and that of three other Seals. Fortunately Lutrell survived to tell the story.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon me, in the above para, two that ought to have been those.

  • Peter Leavitt

    Pardon me, in the above para, two that ought to have been those.

  • wayne .pelling

    Someone mentioned Frederick Douglas. How about the other abolitionists such as William wilberforce although he was a Pom (sorry Limey for Americans) William Lloyd garrison and Rev Josiah Henson.
    You could also use literature from WW2 POW experiences under the japanese sych as Laurens Van der Post’S NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON or THE ADMIRAL’S BABY
    Ernest Gordon’s TO END ALL WARS
    THE WAR DIARIES OF SIR EDWARD DUNLOP -this chap and fellow Aussie was dubbed THE CHRIST OF THE BURMA RAILWAY because of his example of Christianity.
    Julie Hunter’s bio on her grandad THE COLONEL OF the bridge on the river kwai

  • wayne .pelling

    Someone mentioned Frederick Douglas. How about the other abolitionists such as William wilberforce although he was a Pom (sorry Limey for Americans) William Lloyd garrison and Rev Josiah Henson.
    You could also use literature from WW2 POW experiences under the japanese sych as Laurens Van der Post’S NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON or THE ADMIRAL’S BABY
    Ernest Gordon’s TO END ALL WARS
    THE WAR DIARIES OF SIR EDWARD DUNLOP -this chap and fellow Aussie was dubbed THE CHRIST OF THE BURMA RAILWAY because of his example of Christianity.
    Julie Hunter’s bio on her grandad THE COLONEL OF the bridge on the river kwai

  • Tickletext

    What about the vocation of being a gentleman? John Henry Newman wrote about it in several places, including The Idea of a University: “The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder.”

  • Tickletext

    What about the vocation of being a gentleman? John Henry Newman wrote about it in several places, including The Idea of a University: “The true gentleman in like manner carefully avoids whatever may cause a jar or a jolt in the minds of those with whom he is cast; — all clashing of opinion, or collision of feeling, all restraint, or suspicion, or gloom, or resentment; his great concern being to make every one at their ease and at home. He has his eyes on all his company; he is tender towards the bashful, gentle towards the distant, and merciful towards the absurd; he can recollect to whom he is speaking; he guards against unseasonable allusions, or topics which may irritate; he is seldom prominent in conversation, and never wearisome. He makes light of favours while he does them, and seems to be receiving when he is conferring. He never speaks of himself except when compelled, never defends himself by a mere retort, he has no ears for slander or gossip, is scrupulous in imputing motives to those who interfere with him, and interprets every thing for the best. He is never mean or little in his disputes, never takes unfair advantage, never mistakes personalities or sharp sayings for arguments, or insinuates evil which he dare not say out. From a long-sighted prudence, he observes the maxim of the ancient sage, that we should ever conduct ourselves towards our enemy as if he were one day to be our friend. He has too much good sense to be affronted at insults, he is too well employed to remember injuries, and too indolent to bear malice. He is patient, forbearing, and resigned, on philosophical principles; he submits to pain, because it is inevitable, to bereavement, because it is irreparable, and to death, because it is his destiny. If he engages in controversy of any kind, his disciplined intellect preserves him from the blunder.”

  • Joe

    I think Otto Frank (Anne Frank’s father) should be on the list. He coordinated the hiding of his family from the Nazis for two years, kept his family together until they were caught, allowed others to come live in the attic despite the fact that it would mean less food for all and somehow managed to run his business from his hiding spot in the attic.

  • Joe

    I think Otto Frank (Anne Frank’s father) should be on the list. He coordinated the hiding of his family from the Nazis for two years, kept his family together until they were caught, allowed others to come live in the attic despite the fact that it would mean less food for all and somehow managed to run his business from his hiding spot in the attic.

  • The Jungle Cat

    Has anyone mentioned “A Message to Garcia” yet? I don’t much care for it myself, but it’s a famous one.

  • The Jungle Cat

    Has anyone mentioned “A Message to Garcia” yet? I don’t much care for it myself, but it’s a famous one.

  • The Jungle Cat

    Oh, and I haven’t seen Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography” yet, but I would recommend the section on him establishing his shop in Philadelphia.

  • The Jungle Cat

    Oh, and I haven’t seen Benjamin Franklin’s “Autobiography” yet, but I would recommend the section on him establishing his shop in Philadelphia.

  • Micki Riddlebarger

    How about the great poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  • Micki Riddlebarger

    How about the great poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling:

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too:
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise;

    If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim,
    If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same:.
    If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
    Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build’em up with worn-out tools;

    If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
    And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
    And never breathe a word about your loss:
    If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,
    And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

    If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
    If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much:
    If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
    Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

  • Matt

    I recommend the story “Monday” from Mark Helprin’s recent collection “The Pacific.” Here, a New York City contractor deals with the aftermath of 9/11 by renovating a house for a survivor better than it has ever been done, regardless of cost, at his own expense. Highly recommended.

  • Matt

    I recommend the story “Monday” from Mark Helprin’s recent collection “The Pacific.” Here, a New York City contractor deals with the aftermath of 9/11 by renovating a house for a survivor better than it has ever been done, regardless of cost, at his own expense. Highly recommended.


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