by Ethan Hawke
Hardcover, 169 pg.
Read: November 30, 2015
So the story goes, Ethan Hawke is a descendant of a knight who died at the Battle of Slaughter Bridge in 1483. The night before the battle, this knight, Sir Thomas Lemuel Hawke penned a lengthy letter to his young children so that they’d have something to remember him by, and hopefully learn something from him. Ethan Hawke came into possession of this letter, and after a scholar translated it for him, modernized the language so that he could pass these lessons on to his kids. Given the fact that the “Hawke” surname was once “Hawker”, there’s an ornithological flavor to all of this.
The letter, or manifesto, consists of short lessons on a variety of virtues or characteristics that Sir Thomas wanted to pass along to his son and daughters (which are awfully feminist for the 15th Century): justice, solitude, generosity, discipline, love, humility, and so on. Virtues and ideals that are shared by many Western and Eastern cultures — something akin to what C. S. Lewis would call the Tao. The lessons combine personal vignettes from Sir Thomas’ life and training with fable-like stories (many of which are old and common — like the two dogs/wolves inside each of us fighting for control, you ought to feed the one you want to win).
Hawke’s wife, Ryan, provided the illustrations for this book. I wouldn’t say they’re dazzling, but they’re nice — and fit the material well.
This is a nice book, one that serves its purposes well. Short chapters, well (if somewhat heavy-handed) written. It’s not a must-read, but it’d be a good use of anyone’s time — particularly something for dads to read to young children.