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Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity [Hardcover]

Joel Stein
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 15, 2012
The smudge looked suspiciously penis- like. The doctor confirmed: "That's the baby's penis!" which caused not celebration, but panic. Joel pictured having to go camping and fix a car and use a hammer and throw a football and watch professionals throw footballs and figure out whether to be sad or happy about the results of said football throwing.

So begins his quest to confront his effete nature whether he likes it or not (he doesn't), by doing a twenty-four-hour shift with L.A. firefighters, going hunting, rebuilding a house, driving a Lamborghini, enduring three days of boot camp with the U.S. Army, day-trading with $100,000, and going into the ring with UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture. Seeking help from a panel of experts, including his manly father-in-law, Boy Scouts, former NFL star Warren Sapp, former MLB All-Star Shawn Green, Adam Carolla, and a pit bull named Hercules, he expects to learn that masculinity is defined not by the size of his muscles, but by the size of his heart (also, technically, a muscle). This is not at all what he learns.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

When 38-year-old, self-confessed unmanly man Stein finds out he and his wife are having a baby boy, he is seized by the compulsion to learn how to do all that manly stuff he’s neglected. So he spends time with some firefighters (all the while hugely intimidated by their dazzling good looks); learns to love dogs (with the help of a former Playboy playmate); gets some lessons in the fundamentals of baseball (from a two-time MLB all-star); and spends a weekend as a Boy Scout (mentored by a 13-year-old named Wiggles). The author’s wife thinks his “manquest” is a stupid idea, but for Stein, it’s a necessary attempt to confront all of the things he’s spent his life avoiding and to learn some skills that will make him a better father to his little boy. It’s a very funny book, but it’s not really a comedy; it’s more like a cockeyed autobiography, an embarrassingly honest story of one man’s last-ditch effort to Become a Man. Most readers—and their female counterparts—will relate to the book in some way. --David Pitt


"This is much more than a funny book, though it is that too. Beneath the humor is a wonderfully poignant exploration of the role of manliness for the 21st century urban guy. It's also a Father's Day love letter disguised as a set of adventure tales. Joel looks lovingly at both his crusty old dad and trusting infant son to reflect deeply on the lessons that we pass along from generation to generation. It made me laugh, and think, a lot."
--Walter Isaacson, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Steve Jobs

"Many of us men in the Western world struggle with this "forced manliness"- there is a lot of pressure. For some, it is a real struggle. I have seen Joel try to chew tobacco in an attempt to prove that estrogen does not imprison his body. Looking down at his lap and bashfully wiping the remnants of spilled tobacco off his J. Crew slacks did not help his cause. The fact that he laughed at it, though, did. He caught himself trying to be manly and laughed. That is a true man." --Zach Galifianakis

"I am the father only of daughters, and so didn't suffer any existential midlife panic about discovering and demonstrating my latent manliness. But I am happy Joel did, because his infant son inspired him to report and write this rare and splendid thing: an open-minded, open-hearted, bracingly honest, laugh-out-loud-funny memoir that takes life just seriously enough."
--Kurt Andersen, New York Times bestselling author of Heyday

"Despite his best efforts, I'm not sure if Joel Stein will ever be a man, but he made me laugh out loud trying in Man Made." --Andy Borowitz, New York Times bestselling author and humorist

"Joel Stein is one of the funniest writers I've read. An incredible, hilarious saga of one man's transformation from really wimpy to just kind of wimpy." -Neil Strauss, New York Times bestselling author of The Game and Emergency

"Joel Stein's book will make you act in a very unmanly way-you will spend hours giggling like a 5th grade girl. He writes about fatherhood and son-hood with great insight, humor and, yes, even poignancy. It made me proud to share the same basic gender with him" -AJ Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Year of Living Biblically

"If Joel Stein can learn to be a man, a man in the old and rugged sense of the word, then anyone can. And that's what gives me hope. What gave me profound and dizzy pleasure, though, was reading this wild account of how he did it. I dare you to follow him on his dangerous quest and I double dare you not to laugh." -Walter Kirn, New York Times bestselling author of Up in the Air

"This entertaining and irreverent memoir will make you laugh out loud, teach you a surprising amount about various bastions of American masculinity, and leave you feeling glad that you're not married to Joel Stein." -Curtis Sittenfeld, New York Times bestselling author of Prep and American Wife

"To man up, Stein goes all Plimpton . . . MAN MADE reminds us of his wonderful ability to find surprise within a cliché . . . hilarious."-New York Times Book Review

"Stein proves himself to be a champion humorist by probing the serious side of his subject while peppering the paragraphs with numerous fresh and funny notions."
-Publisher's Weekly

"A consistently hilarious and surprisingly profound crash course in manliness... Charming, funny and life affirming" -Kirkus

"Feels like what might've happened if you'd sent Woody Allen to write George Plimpton's Paper Lion...In between all the comedy, the book is often a perceptive account of how men relate to each other and a surprisingly tender story about the love that exists between fathers and sons." -San Francisco Chronicle

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446573124
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446573122
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

JOEL STEIN grew up in Edison, NJ, went to Stanford, and in 1997, became a staff writer for TIME. In 1998, he began writing his sophomoric humor column that now appears in the magazine every week. He's also written fourteen cover stories for TIME, and has contributed to The New Yorker, GQ, Esquire, Details, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Businessweek, Fortune, Wired, Real Simple, Sunset, Playboy, Elle, Los Angeles, and many more, most of which have gone out of business. He has appeared as a talking head on any TV show that asks him, taught a class in humor writing at Princeton, and wrote a weekly column for the back page of Entertainment Weekly and the opinion section of the Los Angeles Times. This is the most he's ever written in third person.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Star Funny! May 16, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a subscriber to Time magazine, I always read Joel Stein's article as it always makes me laugh. In the latest issue (you know, the cover with the woman breast-feeding the 30 year old) he was at the top of his game with his over the top self-promotion of this book. I had to buy it from Amazon.

I finished it tonight. It is the funniest book I have read since the early works of Dave Barry and the late Lewis Grizzard. Every page from the introduction to the ending author's note is hilarious. Laugh out loud (LOL) funny! As an added bonus, it is one of the most honest books I have read. Only Richard Pryor's "Pryor Convictions" comes close to its candor.

The theme of the book is that upon learning that he is going to be the father of a SON, Joel panics and decides he must learn more about being a man. Each chapter takes us through a journey of self-discovery as Joel does "manly" things with day traders, firefighters, boy scouts, major league professionals, etc. His observations and reactions to various situations are all slices of comic gold.

The chapters are:

1. Surviving Outdoors
2. Rescuing the Helpless
3. Engaging in Competition
4. Bonding with Men
5. Making Money
6. Using Machines
7. Taming Animals
8. Building Shelter
9. Providing Food
10. Defending My Country
11. Protecting My Family

I would guess that every man that reads this book will find himself in at least some of these chapters. I know I did. I would also surmise that every woman that reads this book, will find her husband or boyfriend. I would also advise you shouldn't point it out to him.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mano-A-Mano So So September 5, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read many of Mr. Stein's funny but pretty useless columns in TIME magazine, I was curious if I could tolerate a book's worth of his humor. His writing style is mostly aimed at self-deprecation and the metaphors usually allude to pop-culture references. Though the focus of the book is him trying to become more "manly" for his son's sake, I wondered throughout the thing if it was just a contrived excuse to set himself up in uncommon situations. No matter. Mr. Stein did a wonderful job covering his experiences in camping with a Boy Scouts' troop; spending a few days being sort of a Los Angeles firefighter; practicing baseball with a former-pro-Dodger; spends a Sunday hanging with some ex-pro-football players watching games; learns to drink whiskey; day trades; drives a Lamborghini; babysits a dog for a few weeks; helps his father-in-law repair an old house; goes turkey hunting in Vermont; spends some days at both a marine and army boot camps as well as the climax of the story is Mr. Stein spending five minutes sparring with mixed-martial-arts UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture.

It's certainly a random lot of "manly" venues. Though it does have its moments of serious introspection and the book is somewhat educational (I'm now ready for a Jeopardy category entitled 'Horny Turkeys",) the work is ultimately just a light read of a nerdy, sarcastic guy's misadventures. The authors, Mr. Stein, Jon Ronson and A.J. Jacobs must have been separated at birth. All three guys are the first to come to mind when I need a light, hilarious pick-me-up. Heck, even the author's acknowledgements at the end of the work made me smile. I do hope Mr. Stein writes another one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars his Time page is much better than this book August 14, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
his Time page is much better than this book. I do like his views on things but the book goes on n on non gets dull
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like his column in Time, you will love it June 17, 2012
By Jimbo
I will keep this review as brief as I can, but try to tell you exactly what I feel you need to know if you are trying to decide wheather or not to buy this book. The reason I bought this book is simple- I have a subscription TIME magazine and really enjoy Joel Stein's column. Perhaps if you pick up a copy of TIME and read his column, you will also be able to decide if this book is for you or not. If you enjoy his column's writing style & his sense of humor, you will without a doubt enjoy this book. If, on the other hand, you read his column in TIME and think it is stupid, sophmoric, pointless, or just not funny, then you will not enjoy this book. In fact, his TIME column a few weeks ago was devoted entirely to shamelessly promoting this book release in a humorous way, which he intentionally did not try to disguise- and that is what sold me on buying this book, becuase I found it to be an hilarious article. I have since read the entire book, and wish that I was not finished reading it, so that I still had more to look forward to reading, becuase I thought it was not only very creative, but also quite hilarious in many many instances (by the way, its intended to be funny & lighthearted - not some kind of heavy-handed opinion on gender and sexuality etc.) Its reading for entertainment folks!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fun read, somewhat low-brow July 19, 2014
Stein isn't really a genius or anything, but he's fun to read. His idea of the typical American man is actually quite's almost like Stein was moved in from another planet or culture or something...But in order to teach his son "how to be a man" he tries to learn to be a "real man" and learns various skills from firefighters and boy scouts and martial artists and such...which makes for a good premise and a fun, if somewhat light, read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars stupid.
Take a word from the title: stupid.
Published 14 days ago by whittier
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely a great book. I read Joel in Time every chance ...
Absolutely a great book. I read Joel in Time every chance I get, and this is as good as it gets. My favorite writer is Dave Barry, but Joel is right up there. Read more
Published 1 month ago by john
5.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh ... a lot!
I've always enjoyed Joel Stein 's column in Time Magazine, so I wasn't surprised to be amused by this book. Read more
Published 3 months ago by D. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars ROTFLOL
Good enough for me to laugh out loud in public while reading. Mostly laughing at Joel, some at those around me, and a little at myself.
Published 4 months ago by D. Yang
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, hilarious!
I loved Joel Stein's Man Made! I've been a fan for years, so I was very excited to hear he was writing a book, and my excitement was generously rewarded. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Courtney
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Funny stuff here. Just hoping for a sequel where Mr. Stein goes to a gay bath house....
Published 5 months ago by in stephen's opinion
1.0 out of 5 stars sad, ugly, vulgar
I often finish a Time magazine and believe Joel Stein's page was the best thing in the issue. Of course, his work in Time is fairly clean. Read more
Published 5 months ago by typeA_feedingOs
5.0 out of 5 stars way more than you expect...just get it
I am a fan of Joel Stein's awesome column in Time magazine. And as expected, I am laughing a lot, appreciating his situation, wit and insight. But, surprise. Read more
Published 5 months ago by AchPe
4.0 out of 5 stars Cassandra wins
Funny, although the manliest event in the book (that I could never do and neither can Joel) is to dunk the live mice heads in the toilet until they drown as Cassandra did. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Nicole Johnson
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny, touching, and honest work from the Sultan of Snark
The premise of Joel Stein’s memoir Man Made seems hilariously ill-advised, if not incredibly idiotic: the author subjected himself to various manly tasks and activities in an... Read more
Published 6 months ago by William D. Hastings
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Topic From this Discussion
Joel Stein is a narrow-minded schmuck.
Joel Stein the gig is up. We know you have fabricated the above exchange btwn "Mr Graybosch" (Coach Gray and Coach Bosch were Joel's Middle School gym teachers) and "Mr. Terres" (Shadow of the Dark Gods roleplaying chat for 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons). Gosh darn it I am... Read More
May 14, 2012 by Nancy Online |  See all 16 posts
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