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Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities Paperback – Bargain Price, July 6, 2005

354 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1615596492 ISBN-10: 1615596496

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Robbins, who previously researched Yale's Skull and Bones Society for Secrets of the Tomb and also coauthored Quarterlife Crisis, went undercover for the 2002-2003 academic year to investigate the inner workings of "Greek" (National Panhellenic Conference) sororities. Sororities are far from anachronisms; there are presently some 3.5 million women in almost 3,000 Greek chapters on campuses across America. After the national office forbade locals from cooperating with Robbins, she disguised herself as an undergrad and found four sorority women willing to risk expulsion to help her. While Robbins structures her narrative around the year's ritual cycle-the rush, the bid, pledging, initiation, Greek Week, etc.-the timeless soap opera of sorority life occupies center stage. And although battles between girls can be wrenching, there's nothing like a date gone wrong to bring out the tearsâ€"and the thermos of vodka. Beyond romance, Robbins's informants have their own issues, among them, being black and poor in a rich white sorority and recovering from date rape by a frat brother. These problems are worsened by an environment that encourages binge drinking, drug abuse, eating disorders and blind obedience to what their pledge masters or sorority elders tell them to do. Historically black sororities, which are not the focus of this book, do have a reputation for promoting community service and sisterhood; "historically white" sororities, Robbins concludes, are really just social groups for making friends and meeting guys, despite their claims to academic and service values. Robbins makes suggestions for reforming sororities-more adult supervision, ending pledging, etc.-although the demystification that comes from reading her front-line account may be the best prescription.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Despite the provocative subtitle, most of the information gathered by the author as she went undercover as a sorority girl is nothing especially new. After all, everyone knows sororities can be exclusive, conformist, and superficial organizations. But Robbins' account of life inside the sorority house still makes for fascinating reading. Following four sorority sisters through their first year in the house, a world of sex, drugs, eating disorders, and insecurity is revealed. One wonders, though, if these experiences are that different from the experiences of those students not affiliated with Greek societies. What is arguably different, though, is the extreme pressure brought to bear on these young women to repress their own natural instincts, desires, and inclinations in order to fit in with an amazingly shallow and often unworthy group of friends. Where the author really scores is in her analysis of why otherwise intelligent and sensitive women would sacrifice their independence, and often self-respect, for the sake of an artificially engineered secret society. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion (July 6, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1615596496
  • ISBN-13: 978-1615596492
  • ASIN: B000FDFWP0
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (354 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

* Find me on Facebook for new character updates, contests to win free books, to give feedback, etc. www.facebook.com/AuthorAlexandraRobbins. *Twitter @AlexndraRobbins

New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Robbins's last book was Goodreads' BEST NONFICTION BOOK OF THE YEAR ("The Geeks Shall Inherit The Earth" - also a Books for a Better Life winner).

Robbins was the 2014 recipient of the John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism, given by the Medill School of Journalism. She also won the 2014 Donald Robinson Memorial Award for Investigative Journalism, the 2014 June Roth Award for Medical Journalism, and the 2014 Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Award, the top prize in the Society of Professional Journalists Washington, D.C. Dateline Awards.

Robbins has written for several publications, including The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, and Forbes, and regularly appears in the national media on shows such as "Oprah," "The Today Show," "60 Minutes," "The View," and "The Colbert Report." Robbins frequently lectures about her books and is currently touring. To view topics or book a lecture, please visit alexandrarobbins.com.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

121 of 128 people found the following review helpful By "debbi1313" on April 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I began college as intensely opposed to sororities and the idea of "buying" my friends. Then, in my sophomore year of college, I met some girls in a sorority on campus, became friends with them, and eventually joined the sorority- an NPC group at a large state university.
It was one of the best decisions I ever made- I made great friends and developed so much as a person. I think many sorority girls would say the same thing. It was a great experience.
Had I read this book as a collegian, or recent graduate, I probably would have reacted the same as many of the sorority women's postings- "that is NOT true," "that never happens," etc. However, being removed from the situation by about five years gives you a different perspective.
I am not blind enough to sit here and say " I have NEVER seen any of these things Ms. Robbins talks about going on." That is simply not true. The alcohol, the parties, the date rape, the eating disorders- it's all there. Maybe it wasn't a part of my sorority, or yours, but it's been a part of someone's. Every chapter, on every campus, is different. One of my sorority's chapters at a major university was closed due to hazing. Yet, I was never once hazed in any way. It all depends where you are and the people who are there with you.
I didn't read this book thinking that Ms. Robbins was exposing "sororities everywhere." But I do think she provides a good depiction of how MANY sorority chapters operate. I think she also remained very objective in her writing. And, just think back to junior high or high school- the same catty girls, pressure to conform, etc. It's not all that different.
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
A sister of mine I hadn't spoken with in a while asked me to write a negative review for this book. So I read the book figuring, from all my sister's fussing, that it would be easy to pan. But there was a problem. The very sister who is angry about this book did many of the same things listed in the book -- hazing, drinking, partying a little too closely with a specific group of "hot" fraternity boys. I know, because I did it too. Look, not everything in this book jives with my college experience, but enough does. It's actually not a bad book, either.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A.B.L. on June 8, 2006
Format: Paperback
As an alumna of one of the largest international sororities, I approached this book with mixed feelings, having read many of the reviews on this site. What I learned is that you cant judge a book by its Amazon reviews because reviewers often take topics too personally and cant detach themselves and their personal experiences from the book. Many of the events in this book happened to me or my sisters, but thats besides the point. I thought that as a nonfiction book about sorority life, this book hit the nail on the head, and as for its readbility, I found it funny and entertaining in addition to smart and thought-provoking. All of us Greeks need to be familiar with this book if we are to continue to cater to the changing college environment.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By kmadelyn90 on December 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
As a former greek who's still a student at a Big Ten school, I can say honestly that I've experienced life both in and out of the Greek system, and this book hits the nail on the head. It's a fabulous exploration of many of the things that simultaneously titillated and bothered me about Greek life.

I quit on good terms, for monetary reasons, rather than because I wanted to leave the house. However, now that I'm a "GDI," my perspective on being Greek has completely changed. Although I respect and like the girls in my former house, looking at the Greek system from the outside in makes it look pretty absurd. The people in Greek system will always vehemently deny that it is made up of anything but puppies and rainbows and philanthropic sunshine, but lots and lots of shady stuff goes on.

Hence, I'm glad such a good author/journalist had the balls to write an entire book about this interesting duality. It's well-researched and well-presented, and gives a pretty even look at things. Frankly, I think she was almost too nice and too eager to not offend at parts. A lot of the time, she lets the actions of the women in the book speak for themselves. Although I'd have loved to see some analysis, her journalistic writing style gives the book a lot of credibility. She justs chronicles things and lets the reader draw his or her own conclusions.

Whether you're Greek, a former Greek, or a GDI, definitely a fascinating read. Sorority girls: don't disregard it before you've read it. It's really not as bad as you think it is.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Heather Schulman on May 19, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I am a currently graduating member of an NPC sorority at a large campus. I read this book out of curiosity, but I came out feeling like I'd just seen my life in the mirror. "Dress Checks",binge drinking, and "selling the sorority" were what I endured for several years. I did not encounter everything that Robbins talked about, like hazing and drug abuse, but I absolutely believe that this book is a fairly accurate representation of what goes on in these societies. I don't think that Robbins is trying to say that every sorority is like this, but the abuses she sees cannot be ignored in good conscience. Sororities will probably never change, but I hope that sisters will read this book and allow themselves to recognize their own lives in it.
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