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Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity [Hardcover]

Joel Stein
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 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.

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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: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #158,831 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
. MAN MADE: A STUPID QUEST FOR MASCULINITY (Hachette Audio), written and read by humorist Joel Stein, had me laughing from page 1 about his real-life attempts to acquire as many manly skills as possible in order to be a better father to his newborn son.

To do so, the author does a 24-hour shift with L.A. firefighters, hunts, rebuilds a home, drives a Lamborghini, endues three days of boot camp with the US Army, day-trades with $100,000 and goes into the ring with UFC Hahll of Famer Randy Couture.

I got a special kick out of reading how he gained knowledge to prepare for the above; i.e., by interviewing a panel of experts, including former NF star Warren Sapp, former MLB All-Star Shawn Green, a 13-year old Boy Scot named Wiggles and a pit bull named Hercules.

I'd recommend this book to any father, past, present or future . . . wives will enjoy it, too, because Stein's writing is not only funny, but it is also quite touching in parts.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome Columnist hits it out of the Ballpark. June 3, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I have been following the career of Mr. Stein for many years. His "Awesome Column" appearing in Time Magazine is always a joy to read, the highlight of the publication, the first thing I look for when my copy arrives. I was thrilled to learn that he had written a book and was not dissapointed. His book "Man Made" is a delightful, funny, engaging, charming, witty, honest, clever, fun book. Mr. Stein paints beautiful and often hilarious pictures of his adventures with his words, endearingly dedicated to his young son, Laszlo. His loyalty to Marriage and Family is an outstanding characteristic. I think Mr. Stein is very, very cool. I am glad I bought this book. I belive Mr. Stein is one of the greatest voices of our Generation. This book is a treasure, as is Mr.Stein. I hope to read all of his work for many years to come.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
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 4 days 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 8 days 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 13 days 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 1 month ago by William D. Hastings
1.0 out of 5 stars STEIN SHD BOYCOTT AMA ZON
What re you doing Joel Stein? I worked at Stanford when you were a student and know you have more chutzpa and integrity than to be offering your books at Amazon while they screw... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dolly K. Patterson
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll Laugh ... Until You Cry
Joel Stein has accomplished a rare feat: hilariously skewering almost every tired trope, every caricaturish trait, every predictably macho activity — and coming away from his... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mark O'Brien
4.0 out of 5 stars What every beta male needs to read!
I'll loved his ability to tell a story, and the honest self-evaluation. If more people could open themselves to understand the people around them like this, political and social... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Matt
5.0 out of 5 stars a great read
Joel Stein makes realizing what makes a man a man one of the most entertaining quests around. He is smart enough to realize which ideals of masculinity are fun to make a joke about... Read more
Published 5 months ago by jeffery bell
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining review of author's attempts at attaining masculinity
prompt filling of my order, as well as a highly entertaining book. Army & Marines allowed him to join bootcamp.
Published 6 months ago by Mary McClintock
4.0 out of 5 stars Man Made of Clever Humor
I found book to be cleverly written. It is so funny and true. All men can take away some pebbles of wisdom from the humor. As a retired Army Command Sergeant Major, I applaud Mr. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Ron
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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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