ALUMNI PROFILE: Brett McKay (JD ’09)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

By Roy Tucker (JD ’03)

Brett and Kate McKayWith reader reviews proclaiming “Get this book,” “Required reading,” and “Destined to be the Bible for many men,” TU Law alumni Brett McKay (JD ’09) and his wife, Kate, seem to have a hit on their hands.

Their book, appropriately titled, The Art of Manliness: Classic Skills for the Modern Man (published by F & W Publishing), has hit bookshelves to rave reviews. Released in October 2009, the book is sold out on Based on his wildly popular blog of the same name, The Art of Manliness is an essential how-to guide on being a man. With chapters entitled “The Gentlemen,” “The Hero,” “The Friend,” and “The Lover,” the book is a compilation of sage and accessible advice on how to recapture the honorable and traditional values and behavior attributed to being a “man.” It aims to teach men of the X and Y Generations core values from the Greatest Generation. 

The blog can be found at and contains a user-friendly database of must-have information. There are articles on how to rotate tires, change your own oil, jump start a car, buy a quality watch, and tie a full Windsor knot, just to name a few. With inspiration drawn from the likes of Winston Churchill, Jimmy Stewart, Theodore Roosevelt, and Benjamin Franklin, each article is written to entice the reader, and make him strive to be the best man. The site sees approximately 700,000 visitors per month with 50,000 daily subscribers. Below is an excerpt from a blog article entitled “On Manly Loyalty:”

What is loyalty?
Like courage, integrity, and personal responsibility, loyalty is one of the essential manly virtues. But like other lofty attributes, it is often easier to describe with examples than words. We know it in the soldier who will not leave a wounded comrade behind and dodges withering fire to bring the man to safety. We see it embodied in the prominent man who has women throw themselves at him when away from home, but who never strays from his wife, and in the religious martyr who chooses death over the disavowal of faith. And it is the bond that befuddles girlfriends who cannot understand why their beau is still friends with a childhood chum with whom he now seemingly shares little in common.

The complete article may be found on McKay’s blog.

When asked what one event inspired him to create his blog and the ensuing book, McKay says, “I was standing in Borders looking at the men's magazines. Every month it seemed like every issue was filled with the same trite and shallow stuff: how to get six pack abs, how to bed as many women as you can, and where to buy a $1,000 designer shirt. I thought, ‘There has to be more to being a man than this!’”

Prior to experiencing his creative epiphany, McKay says he had been noticing that many of the men in their 20s and 30s seemed lost; they appeared to be shirking off responsibility and trying to prolong adolescence as long as they could. McKay says he too sometimes felt lost about what it meant to be a good man, speculating that his confusion may have been an unintended consequence of the mid-century feminist movement. While not discounting any of the accomplishments that grew out of that movement, McKay feels that men were left with no clear guide on what it means to be a man. He compares the idealism of men of his generation to being in Peter Pan mode. In creating his blog and book, McKay hoped to rediscover for himself and others some of the past honorable traditions of manliness. While still learning along with the rest of his generation, McKay says that his exploration of the art of manliness has taught him how to change his own oil, split firewood, shave with a straight razor, dress more manly, and has even enhanced his relationship with his wife.

It was during his second year of law school at TU that McKay was approached about compiling his blog into a book. He was given seven months to come up with a draft. That meant juggling law school, his job with Westlaw, and being an editor for the Tulsa Law Review. Despite the stress and overwhelming feelings, McKay and his wife finished their draft in 2008. With the first printing of 10,000 books already sold, a second release was scheduled for January 2010.  


Jimmy Hart