Nebraskan Ben Sasse is only in his first term as a US senator and he is already making a name for himself. It should come as no surprise then that his first book, The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis and How to Build a Culture of Self-Reliance was an instant New York Times Bestseller.  As a big fan of Ben Sasse and someone who like to think she is becoming a self-reliant adult slowly but surely, I was eager to get my hands on this book and review it.

For a little background, Ben Sasse is an intellectual with degrees from Harvard, Yale, and a background in consulting. However, he also is a dad and a politician though, so he knows how to make theology and political theory digestible for the masses. That, I would say, is one of Sasse’s greatest accomplishments for this book. He talks about Aristotle, Thucydides, and Zola with precision and with an eye towards middle Americans, people who may not be well-versed in thee authors but who can benefit from their lessons nonetheless.

This book is not about Ben Sasse, politician. It’s about Ben Sasse, father. With that in mind, this book is a prescription pad of advice for those of you raising children and those of you who are still trying to finish raising yourself into adulthood. His advice is far-ranging and applicable to everyone from all walks of life. Read, he implores, and build a personal reading list of books that are important to you. Travel, as far as you can or nearby in a new light, and be sure to travel light. You’ll learn much about necessity and return to the luxuries of home with newfound appreciation. He gives great advise on developing a good, strong work ethic whether that be in your teenager or your toddler. One of my favorite of his suggestions was to “flee age segregation” and not live only among people your own age. Visit with your grandparents often and learn from their stories.  Play with younger children and teach them. One major flaw of the K-12 schooling system was creating a sense that it was only proper to interact with those born in the same year as you.

As great as Ben Sasse is about being welcoming to new ideas and different ways of life, he doesn’t hold back when he finds flaws in the system. Some of the best segments of the book come when Sasse takes down the failing K-12, and sometimes K-16, education system and hits back at colleges that aren’t creating students ready to enter the real world and solve actual problems. It’s a refreshing read for those of us on the ground at those colleges witnessing this firsthand.

As he explains at the beginning and the end, this is not a policy book. Ben Sasse doesn’t spend his nearly 300 pages proposing bills about child labor requirements and mandatory reading lists for students. Instead, he provides anecdotes, quite funny ones at times, from his own life that others can hopefully learn from. It’s a didactic book, not a pedantic one, and one that everyone, parent or young adult or grandparent or high-schooler, can learn from.

Get your copy of The Vanishing American Adult by Ben Sasse here.

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Aryssa D
FFL Cabinet Member