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The Broken American Male: And How to Fix Him Hardcover – January 22, 2008

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312379242
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312379247
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #983,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From a very young age, Boteach explains, men are bombarded with messages defining success "exclusively by money, power, fame, and preferably a corrosive amalgamation of all three" (think Donald Trump); for the average American man, this definition results in a deep but hard-to-pin-down sense of failure that stains his perception-of himself and his environment-and inevitably corrodes his relationships, "bringing down the American female and family with him." Boteach, Rabbi of Oxford University, author of Kosher Sex and star of the Learning Channel's "Shalom in the Home," offers a detailed prognosis of the current state of the American family based on his work with families facing familiar crises (constant fighting, depression, anorexia, sexless marriage), "approximately 70 percent" of whom suffer from "Broken American Male syndrome." The book's first third takes a hard but sympathetic look at the syndrome's symptoms and effects (such as waning libido, empty ambition, escapism and substance abuse); the middle third examines underlying causes ("soulless capitalism") and collateral damage ("The Inadequate American Female," "The Uninspired Child") on the way to chapters providing sound advice and practical solutions-beginning with a "New Definition of Success," one measured "by the quality of our relationships." Though rooted in Judaism, Boteach's lessons are applicable to anyone hoping to understand and overcome feelings of failure in themselves or their loved ones.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“A vital and fascinating repair manual.”—A.J. Jacobs, author of The Year of Living Biblically


“A refreshing kick in the teeth.”—USA Today

"Boteach's lessons are applicable to anyone hoping to understand and overcome feelings of failure in themselves or their loved ones."--Publishers Weekly


--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is one of the world's leading relationship experts and spiritual authorities. His twenty-one books have been bestsellers in seventeen languages, and his award winning syndicated column is read by a global audience of millions. He is the host of TLC's award-winning Shalom in the Home and was Oprah Winfrey's love, marriage, and parenting expert on Oprah and Friends. He served for eleven years as rabbi at Oxford University, where he built the Oxford L'Chaim Society into the University's second largest student organization. Today, Newsweek calls him the most famous rabbi in America. The winner of the highly prestigious London Times Preacher of the Year award, Rabbi Shmuley is also the recipient of the National Fatherhood Award and the American Jewish Press Association's Highest Award for Excellence in Commentary. He lives in New Jersey with his wife, Debbie, and their nine children.

Customer Reviews

Echoing a previous critiquer this book really is awful.
Michelle Llewellyn
Helps me remember what is really important, who really matters, and what do to about it.
I skimmed the first half of this book and various chapters in the second half.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Migzilla on September 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
The only male role models many American men have these days are people on TV. Imagine if we all lived like most of the greedy philanderers we see on TV! What kind of a culture would this be? What would happen to the American family? If you have kids, I doubt that's the kind of society you would want them to grow up in or the people you want them to become!

A lot of men feel like failures because they don't have a new girlfriend, car, boat, house, etc. every so often. Men like me who are committed to their family aren't living the "cool" life as seen in the movies and on TV (though the celebrities aren't either, and that's why so many of them are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol). And so sometimes a man asks himself, why do I make this sacrifice? I'm getting old, my hair is falling out, my belly is getting bigger (not that we can't help that), and I'm barely caught up on my bills! It takes a book like this to make a man realize he's acting like a wimp.

I personally understand the pressure in our society. TVs are everywhere! They tell you that you don't have enough and are not good enough. Bimbo male celebrities have become the role models! Our nation's leaders aren't doing a very good job of being role models and neither are many religious leaders. Many of them are getting in trouble for having affairs and stealing money. We have TVs now in the break room at my work, in the gym, and I get to see tons of advertisements on billboards on my drive to and from work. It's hard to just shut the media off and start living once again. But if you want to be a good father, husband, and not spend the rest of your life in vain pursuits and depression, it's something you'll have to do. Read this book and pass on the advice to your children.
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33 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on February 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
After catching a few episodes of his TV show, I felt like Boteach "got it" in the way that Dr. Drew and occasionally Dr. Phil got it. He has the ability to cut to the core of the issue, understand when people are acting unhealthily and are unafraid to point fingers. The book confirmed my initial impression. Boteach is definitely onto something about male culture. His analogy of women and eating disorders and then men and workaholicism is apt. They are both a result of a tendency to apply internal identity to external factors. A woman feels she is as worthy as her beauty and a man as special as his wealth. No question, modern culture perverts many natural urges to unhealthy access--and we often examine how that effects women but rarely do the same for men. His book finally does this.

If there is any criticism to be leveled at this it is the mass of generalizations, feel-good assertions, and unsupported idealism. Look, men's behavior is not totally a result of culture. The traits he derides in the book existed long before man had developed to ability to speak, let alone build office buildings. To think that it could all go away with a few parenting changes is ridiculous. And as always, religion (namely the bible) is a poor place to found any theory. Being that he is a Rabbi, he rests heavily on scripture and the notion of "G-d." In this instance, I think he could have made an equally persuasive case without it. He didn't and the book suffers. I would recommend a few ev psych books to balance Boteach's words with some science such as Sperm Wars, The Evolution of Desire or even The Moral Animal.

Regardless, if you're a young person, you should read this before you go the way of your parents generation. And if you're older, maybe it's not too late to turn it around.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ruth A. Schaefer on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This fascinating book rang true most of time. There were lots of "aha- so that's why they act like that" moments. I do think that the book is incomplete. He spends most of his time discussing men who measure their success or self-worth based on money. Perhaps this is because he lives in New York and, by his own admission, knows many people who work in Wallstreet. Most of the performance-driven men I know are not measuring themselves by money, but by accomplishments, recognition, and the geek-cool-factor. He does not touch on how performance-driven self worth has been passed on to women. (If Daddy pays more attention to money or accomplishments than to "feminine" persuits, darling daughter is going to focus on money or accomplishments). While that is arguably outside the scope of this book, he does spend considerable time discussing the effects of a performance-driven man on his family.
He also doesn't touch on the arrested development that seems to afflict some men. This would be the 40-year-old that still lives at home and spends his time watching movies and playing video games. Or the man in his mid-30s that does just enough enough work to keep him supplied with ramen noodles and a season pass at the ski resort. I would dearly like to know what is going on in their brains. That said, I loved the book, and am passing it around to friends and family.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jack Holden on July 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
There's a lot of truth to what Shmuley is saying here, but his explanations and suggestions on "how to fix" men are questionable. His basic thesis is spot-on, where he goes wrong is with his support. Some of the chapters are wishy-washy and could be cut out entirely. At times, the text focuses too much on religion and spirituality, ignoring other aspects of the problem and solution. That being said, this book is still very important. After years of feminism dominating American culture, books like this and Palahniuk's "Fight Club" are starting to discuss a different problem: countless men who are unhappy, restless, and lost. Shmuley's book does a great job describing the problem and part of the solution, hopefully we continue to see more books addressing this subject.
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