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Online Reviewers Are Being Absolutely Brutal About Josh Hawley’s ‘Manhood’

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Reuters

Sen. Josh Hawley’s long-awaited book—Manhood: The Masculine Virtues America Needs—isn’t even out yet, but the reviews are in.

“What an awful piece of whiney drivel. Could not finish. Don’t waste your money,” one reviewer wrote next to a one-star rating.

“I hear they’re making the book out of glass, so it will be as fragile as his ‘masculinity,’” another said, alongside another one-star rating.

In a one-star review that is labeled as “hidden because of spoilers,” the writer said the book is “filled with misogyny” and “about latent homosexuality and self loathing.”

The trick of it all is that none of these dozens of reviewers have actually read Manhood. But that isn’t stopping them from trying to tank the book ahead of its release. On Goodreads, a popular site for reviewing books, Hawley’s Manhood has only 1.26 stars out of 5. Many of the reviews date back to Hawley’s announcement of the book last year.

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Manhood promises to showcase why manliness, however Hawley defines it, is an essential tenet of American society. Hawley argues that, without manhood, society will crumble. In the preview blurb of the book, Hawley invokes everything from the founding fathers to Greek and Roman philosophers to Jesus of Nazareth to Theodore Roosevelt as part of his case for what manliness is and why we need it.

The concept is rooted in conservative rhetoric. The GOP has been on a tirade of claiming men don’t act like men anymore, as culture wars over gender and sexuality percolate through the political soil. That’s bait to his base—and fuel for those who loathe the senator.

Many framed the idea of Hawley writing a book on manliness as ironic, pointing to the senator’s behavior at the Capitol during the Jan. 6 insurrection—when footage captured him running away from rioters, just hours after he raised a fist in solidarity with them earlier that day.

Among the handful of reviews on another site, ThriftBooks, the book has a beefy 3.8 stars out of 5. But there, reviewers seem to be throwing in some higher reviews in jest.

One four-star review, which can only logically be read in the style of Donald Trump, reads: “All the best people are reading about Josh Hawley’s manhood and how he showed America how to take up running to protect his health. He even waves his fist in the air like a strongman, let me tell you. His hands are almost as bigly as mine!”

Another five-star review—not written in the style of Donald Trump—lauds Hawley as a “STRONG” writer.

“You can tell he’s good with his hands the way he scribes all those sentences. No REAL man would be able to put this down. I just wish there were more pictures of him in those skinny suits. And the way he runs!! Mercy,” the reviewer concluded.

Meet the Democrat Who Thinks He Can Take Down Josh Hawley

Ahead of publishing, Hawley has done the typical media blitz, teasing his book on friendly networks like Fox News. But even those short clips have drawn pushback online. In reviews from The Intercept and The Guardian, the senator doesn’t win any fans. The Intercept’s review teases the book as having “zero jokes, not even a single wry remark.”

“Hawley got himself published anyway, by Regnery, a conservative imprint. He’s doing fine. He seems to believe, however, that he possesses a God-given right to be heard,” The Guardian wrote.

But it’s not all negative. As of Monday morning, the Kindle and audio versions of the book were best sellers in the “Men’s Christian Living” section of Amazon, and the hardcover was a best seller in the “Political Conservatism & Liberalism” section. The book is only available for pre-order ahead of its Tuesday release.

A review in The American Conservative also praised Hawley’s work, saying the book’s “necessity is self-evident” and that “Hawley amply shows in painful anecdotes and even more painful statistics, is suffering—among many other crises—a crisis of masculinity and fatherhood.”

As The Guardian noted, Hawley’s book is being published by Regnery Publishing, a conservative publishing house, which did not respond to an inquiry from The Daily Beast seeking early excerpts or copies of the book, or to questions about the attempts to lower the book’s ratings.

While ragging on Hawley’s book has been an online pastime for some, others have tried to seize the moment for political gain. Lucas Kunce, a Missouri Democrat vying to run against Hawley in 2024, has been bashing the book online for months. Ahead of its release, Kunce told The Daily Beast, “It’s strange that Josh is writing a book on a topic he has zero experience with.”

Hawley continues to seem unfazed.

“If you want to change America for the better, get men to be strong again, to take on their responsibilities and to be leaders,” Hawley said on Fox News Sunday.

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