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Manhood in America

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  243 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
In a time when psychologists are rediscovering Darwin, and much of our social behavioral is being reduced to ancient, hard-wired patterns, Michael Kimmel's history of manhood in America comes as a much needed reminder that our behavior as men and women is anything but stable and fixed. Kimmel's authoritative, entertaining, and wide-ranging history of men in America demonst ...more
Hardcover, 560 pages
Published November 10th 1996 by Free Press (first published 1996)
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Jan 31, 2016 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: American Historians, History Students, Feminists
Recommended to Michael by: Karen Hagemann
This is a pretty good introductory text to masculinities studies for lay people or undergraduates who aren’t ready to explore a lot of heavy theory and historiography. It covers the basics in relatively simple language, and talks about the United States, where a lot of the better-known names focus on Great Britain or Australia. Kimmel works chronologically, beginning with the “self-made” man of the frontier, through Nineteenth Century models like the working man or captain of industry, to the ch ...more
Nov 16, 2014 Sylvester rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, essays
Seriously, make up your mind please! While the book offered some interesting points on how masculinity was shaped through our the two centuries in America, the analysis was very biased (not surprising for a sociologist). The idea of what constitute as a manhood has been changed drastically over the decades from the self-made cowboy masculine homosocial (I really like his word now) to the emasculation of the urbanisation to the rising prominence of scouting and sports to the challenges faced in s ...more
Edward Cornejo
Feb 24, 2014 Edward Cornejo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm only about half way through the text and decided to read it before considering having my American history students read it in conjunction with some women's history. So far I find it fascinating, not because any of it is new to me, but because it paints a nice picture of what men have had to go through in order to be perceived as men (straight or gay, for that matter) by other men. After all, I kind of agree that what women think of us doesn't really matter to us. But, what other men - other ...more
Aug 07, 2008 David rated it really liked it
I only read a few sections of this, the modern sections that are relevant to my students, but I thought that MK wrote in a very clear and compelling fashion. He's very objective in his analysis of men and how they have been impacted by the feminist movement. He makes some really good points about how George Bush (or George I) was perceived to be not manly enough: he went to Yale, was clean-cut in look, etc..., so he made a concerted effort to be more masculine. Willy Loman and Hamlet are analyze ...more
Melissa Maxwell
Feb 03, 2012 Melissa Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the book and it provided a good amount of insight into men and the changing definition of Manhood and Masculinity over time in America. I was not fond of the women bashing and blaming for all mens woes but it was still a good read. His dates for films and books were off frequently throughout the book and needs to be changed with future editions but other than that I would recommend to people interested in Manhood and Masculinity historically in America.
Aug 31, 2008 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A cunningly written dissection of the history of men's search for safety and a self-definition which is achievable and sustaining. Kimmel writes from such a widely and deeply read experience that he is able to slit open the substantial soft underbelly of American manhood as deftly as a surgeon and possesses the wit to read the auguries in the entrails. Higly recommended.
Susan Bin
Oct 16, 2012 Susan Bin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ok im going to concentrate in gender studies now
Brian Stout
Mar 15, 2017 Brian Stout rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: work-family
A pioneering work properly understood as a literature review and an effort to establish a foundation for the emerging field of "masculinity studies." In that objective it is an unqualified success.

I confess I skipped around to the sections relevant for my specific area of interest: the challenges facing modern men and the prescriptions of where we go from here. A little disappointing. Most of the discussion turns to pop culture for reference - fair enough, but the discussion could be enriched th
Maria Arseniuk
Feb 13, 2017 Maria Arseniuk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Comprehensive. The literary version of Tough Guise, expanded. Recommend for anyone interested in masculinity theory.
Jun 22, 2015 Jen rated it liked it
This came close to what I wanted it to be. Kimmel, a professor of masculinity and gender at Stony Brook, gave me more a jumping off point than he did something to assign to my students, which is what I thought it was going to be when I started reading it. By the end, I found its imperfections too glaring and the writing too meandering, but overall it’s more straightforward, more level-headed, and its thesis more valiant than other men’s studies writing. I’m disappointed that I can’t assign the f ...more
Tiny Pants
Pour me a glass of haterade. I mean, it's interesting, and MK does a decent job, but it's frustrating. I feel like all of it I just want to be like, you know what? Boo-effing-hoo! Men in America (particularly UMC white men) don't have it that bad! They don't have it bad at all! Cry me an effing river. If I have to hear one more time how like, standards of beauty are so hard for men to live up to, I'm going to crucify myself on a Bowflex. Then why is like every sitcom ever premised on some fat-as ...more
Matthew Green
Sep 19, 2015 Matthew Green rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very good sociological overview of the numerous ways that masculinity and manhood have come to be defined throughout American history. Kimmel does an excellent job of illustrating the various, recurring means by which masculine gender ideals are reinforced in our society. The only thing that prevents me from giving it five stars is that Kimmel's more contemporary (i.e., post-1980) cultural examples are a bit clumsy and tone deaf. The final chapter before the epilogue where much of this ...more
Shannon Wyss
Aug 26, 2014 Shannon Wyss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent and insightful history of white, cisgender, heterosexual, mostly middle- and upper-class masculinity in the US from the 1700s to the early 1990s. There is much to learn in this book, both for those beginning in women's/gender studies and for those who have been "in the field" for years. Highly recommended.

Would love to see Kimmel publish an updated volume with analysis of the last 15-20 years!
Nitecrawler Lopez
Dec 27, 2014 Nitecrawler Lopez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone
I like his explanation on manhood from early times up to 1990's, he explains how much masculinity has been going through changes. I specifically liked that he put in the inequality that men face when it comes to certain things when compared to women, such as, child custody. Men get a very short end of the stick on that deal. All in all a very interesting book and a great read.
Mar 15, 2013 Dolly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most interesting book I have ever read about masculinity. It explains in detail the history of manhood (as the title offers) in a very easy way to read, amusing, and with the most amazing details, statistics and anecdotes about famous people, philosophers, writers, sociologists, and just normal men. It is a must if you are interested in gender studies.
Verrry interesting. He starts with the Revolutionary era and ends with Promise Keepers. Along the way he talks about the hyper-masculinization of politics (Van Buren was derided for using nice silverware and wearing a girdle), the rise of physical fitness and sports, the vicissitudes of the wage market, the role of the father, and many other male self-image issues.
Sam Lindsay-levine
A scholarly and comprehensive look at masculinity in America, reminding us how deeply socially constructed it is. Plenty of "I never knew that before" moments. This book is everything I wanted Guyland to be that it wasn't.
Mara S
Jun 04, 2015 Mara S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Offered a great analysis of masculinity in America. This book reads like he trade publication that it is, and as such introduces competing perspectives of masculinity over time. Found this enabled me to have some really fantastic discussions with others. Would recommend.
Jan 21, 2011 Zachariah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book; it is very interesting. Kimmel does a good job bringing forward American history and discussing it relates to notions of gender. Of course, as it goes with these sorts of cultural studies, there is leeway, interpretation, and conjecture. But still good.
Jun 02, 2016 Laurie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's all true and documented. And, yeah, it's important. But I keep wanting to leave these rooms and do something else. So, because I have the luxury of autonomy (which might have been otherwise), I will explore "other" frontiers.
Mar 29, 2008 Carrie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everybody!
What a great overview of the history of American masculinity! I didn't want to put it down. Its only flaw is that it gets a little weak towards the end.
Dec 15, 2015 William rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent overview.
Dec 17, 2012 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MK has an intriguing writing style. I enjoyed the book, but I do not completely agree with his argument.
Nov 15, 2014 Jamie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
It reads like a PhD thesis with half of the book end notes and bibliography. There is bias throughout the book. It probably would have been better titled "Against Manhood in America."
Jan 21, 2014 Christabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: masculinity
Third edition
Feb 16, 2010 AJ marked it as could-not-finish
Maybe I'll come back to this book later but it's really not doing it for me right now.
Jan 28, 2008 Beth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great if you are interested in masculinity studies...which I am
cyberpink rated it really liked it
Jul 11, 2017
Carl rated it really liked it
Jan 07, 2014
Emma rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2015
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Michael Scott Kimmel is an American sociologist, specializing in gender studies. He is among the leading researchers and writers on men and masculinity in the world today. The author or editor of more than twenty volumes, his books include The Politics of Manhood, and The History of Men (2005).

His documentary history, "Against the Tide: Pro-Feminist Men in the United States, 1776-1990" (Beacon, 19
More about Michael S. Kimmel...

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“The structural foundations of traditional manhood--economic independence, geographic mobility, domestic dominance--have all been eroding. The transformation of the workplace--the decline of the skilled worker, global corporate relocations, the malaise of the middle-class manager, the entry of women into the assembly line and the corporate office--have pressed men to confront their continued reliance on the marketplace as the way to demonstrate and prove their manhood.” 1 likes
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