★★★★ Who’s Got Your Back?: Making and Keeping Great Friends Among Men by David W. Smith is a modern-minded look at what makes—and breaks—meaningful relationships in men’s lives today. Beginning with an examination of what friendship means, Smith invites readers to take a brief survey that asks them to define the term “close friend,” and then list the number of people in their lives who would fit that description. Men, Smith writes, will almost always record having fewer close friends than their female counterparts. For the rest of his book, Smith tackles topics such as what makes a good friend, why friendship is essential to both our physical and spiritual health, and how men can cultivate the skills needed to attract and retain meaningful friendships with other men in their lives.
Smith’s book stands at an interesting juncture in the human timeline. With cultural shifts in Western society, friendship now means something quite different than it did perhaps just a century ago. Restrictive definitions of modern masculinity and competitive demands for our time, Smith writes, have placed men in an unenviable position where it becomes difficult to admit to themselves that they have a need for friendship, let alone the tools to find and keep it. This emphasis on independence, once a desirable trait, has shown itself to be self-destructive, and though much of our behavior is dictated by a societal framework, Who’s Got Your Back? provides readers with the opportunity to examine their relationships on a personal level, and challenge the idea that men aren’t meant for friendship.