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A powerful book for mythological analysis and understanding of the male psyche

This book takes a lot of patience and slow reading. It’s not easily grasped, so I knocked off one star simply because people often tell me they stop reading because the stories are sometimes difficult to understand, too poetic, not clear enough. I stuck with it and like some science fiction books, accepted that much of the minutiae would be unclear, but in the end the broad picture would come into focus and the lessons would be worth the dig. In my opinion that’s the way to read this book and in the end I felt rewarded with gems of understanding about what it is to be a man and how our culture has lost the ability to bring young men into adulthood through initiation. The stages and types of personality changes are necessary and cannot be skipped or glossed over. I enjoyed his use of the Iron John fairy tale to illuminate these stages. I thoroughly enjoyed the ending as well as his inclusion of the entire tale in the final pages so the reader could review the tale in toto at the end. It made me feel like I understood the story on a deeper level and provided context. He also makes clear that the “wild man” is only part of who a man is. He tries to emphasize that there are men who get caught up in being the wild man and never move on to being a king (complete man), therefore, miss the point of the stages. Although being a wild man or in his analysis, a “playboy,” that is not the point. The enhanced sexuality is intriguing and makes you feel powerful, but should not be confused with maturity. On this point, I believe he brings us full circle and the journey is well worth the effort.

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