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The Best Books to Civilize the Boyhood Barbarians

A Series Conclusion: Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys

“Every generation western civilization is invaded by barbarians….  We call them children.” – Hannah Arendt, philosopher.

There is a trick to civilizing little boys; and it lies in recognizing that they are just that – little boys. Trite though that may seem, getting this right is the only way to preserve western civilization. Alarmist, you say? Consider history.

Click here for Part 1, here for Part 2here for Part 3, and here for Part 4 in the series on the best books for boys.

Johnny Tremain: Rites of Passage in Classical Literature for Boys, Part 4

And some of us would die – so other men can stand up on their feet like men. A great many are going to die for that. They have in the past. They will a hundred years from now – two hundred. God grant there will always be men good enough.”

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes is an overtly moralistic tale, and an unabashed, old-fashioned ode to the patriotism and spirit of the founding generation. It was written in the afterglow of “the Greatest Generation’s” victory in WWII. Its protagonist begins the story as a uniquely talented and bright silversmith’s apprentice. Johnny was only too aware of his best qualities – which in turn brought out his worst. He lorded over and bullied the other apprentices, especially the older but duller Dove. The blowback was disastrous – literally crippling – and changed the course of a life Johnny had well planned.