FIRST ON FOX BUSINESS: Heroes of Liberty is releasing a new children's book on John Wayne, championing the virtues of manhood for young boys in a culture where manliness is often condemned as "toxic."
"We’re telling boys now that their masculinity is toxic, and that’s really quite dangerous for their emotional development and our societal development as well," Heroes of Liberty editor and board member Bethany Mandel told FOX Business in an interview on Thursday.
"We dismiss men so much in our current culture. We say, ‘Believe all women’ and ‘Men have to be taught not to be rapists.’ This book is a pushback against the idea of ‘toxic masculinity.’"
"But you can't just teach boys not to be something," Mandel added. "You have to teach them to be honorable and chivalrous and brave. All of those qualities are so beautifully personified by John Wayne and by the characters that he portrayed."
"As a mother of both boys and girls trying to find books for my kids to read, you have to go back decades to find strong male role models in literature," Mandel said. She noted the novels of Mark Twain and the Hardy Boys series. "This is a major hole within the children's literary canon. The strong, adventurous, honorable – all of those qualities are missing from the modern children's literature."
The new book, "John Wayne: Manhood and Honor," tells the story of Marion Robert Morrison, a young man who got bullied for his unmanly name. That bullying – and his father's tragic business mishaps – led the man who became John Wayne to toughen up.
Morrison got his nickname, "Duke," from his dog – whom he named after the pooch in movies with Morrison's favorite actor, Tom Mix. He left his dog Duke at the firehouse when he went off to school, and the firemen called him "Big Duke" and his dog "Little Duke." They taught him how to fight, and he attended the University of Southern California on a football scholarship.
Morrison's first foray into film came through a summer job – a summer job that became full-time. A famous director took a liking to the young prop man, and history was made. Wayne would become the most iconic Western actor, making more than 200 films.
In the credits of his first film, "The Big Trail," Morrison found himself listed as "John Wayne." The producers gave him that screen name, and it stuck.
The book introduces kids to the Wild West and the characters that Wayne played. It tells the story of "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," a film in which Wayne plays Tom Doniphon, an honorable man who kills a gang leader in a duel but who doesn't get credit for saving the day. He lets a lawyer named Ranse claim the credit – and the girl. "This was the kind of man Duke loved to play: tough on his enemies, loyal to his friends, a gentleman with women, and deeply committed to those he loves."
"John Wayne: Manhood and Honor" teaches the key virtues of manliness and honor through the life of Wayne, and it does so with stunning visuals and fascinating anecdotes about the actor's life.
Heroes of Liberty launched on Nov. 14, 2021, with a set of three books on Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, former President Reagan and author Thomas Sowell. The publisher will launch a new book about a "hero of liberty" each month going forward.