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The Wonder of Boys Paperback – Bargain Price, September 1, 1997

120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In the thoughtful and provocative The Wonder of Boys: What Parents, Mentors, and Educators Can Do to Shape Boys into Exceptional Men, therapist and educator Michael Gurian takes a close look at modern boyhood. Gurian asserts that the biological and neurological differences between boys and girls need to be accounted for and nourished in order to raise healthy, happy boys. In discussing boy culture--and the roles of competition, aggression, and physical risk taking--the author concludes, "It's not boy culture that's inherently flawed; it's the way we manage it." If the natural, testosterone-based impulses of boys are squelched or ignored, Gurian posits, such biological truths may find their way to the surface in other, more negative behaviors. He suggests that boys do best when they are part of a "tribe," three families that include: a birth or adoptive family; an extended family of friends, teachers, peers, and mentors; and the "family" of outside culture, media, religious institutions, and community figures. The Wonder of Boys offers advice on how to understand and build strong father/son and mother/son relationships, stresses the importance of healthy discipline, and suggests methods of teaching boys about sex, relationships, and spirituality. Parents and teachers of boys will find this book to be an insightful read. --Ericka Lutz

From Publishers Weekly

Yes, boys and girls are different, says Washington state family therapist Gurian (Mothers, Sons and Lovers), urging that society learn how to deal creatively with gender-specific needs. In considering the cultural effects of heightened gender consciousness, Gurian warns of the dangers of "enmeshing male development with a female culture in transition." Outlining biological differences, he explains that boys are "hard-wired" to possess certain traits. Because of male brain chemistry and the hormone testosterone, boys are apt, for example, to relish risk-taking and to be physically aggressive and competitive (violence, he claims is not hard-wired, but learned through culture). What Gurian adds to this generally recognized background material is a persuasive summons to society, specifically parents, educators and communities, to unite to channel these traits in positive directions. Sports, for instance, allow competition but also teach responsibility. Work, nature study, music and spiritual pursuits are other positive channels. Gurian, who has also lived in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, suggests that we in the U.S. have grown away from beneficial rites of passage?and toward "isolated, tremulous, family systems." In this shift, he contends, boys have been abandoned, and he urges that society reclaim responsibility for the moral and spiritual upbringing of young males, with guidance offered by elder mentors and support coming from extended family or community. Writing in a calm, compassionate voice, Gurian delivers a compelling call to action. 50,000 first printing; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher; 1st Trade Pbk. Ed edition (September 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0874778875
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,021,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Gurian is a social philosopher, family therapist, corporate consultant, and the New York Times bestselling author of twenty books published in fifteen languages. The Gurian Institute, which he co-founded, conducts research internationally, launches pilot programs and trains professionals. Michael has been called "the people's philosopher" for his ability to bring together people's ordinary lives and scientific ideas.
As a social philosopher, he has pioneered efforts to bring neuro-biology and brain research into homes, workplaces, schools and public policy. A number of his ground-breaking books in child development, including THE WONDER OF BOYS, BOYS AND GIRLS LEARN DIFFERENTLY! THE WONDER OF GIRLS and WHAT COULD HE BE THINKING? have sparked national debate. His newest work, THE MINDS OF BOYS (September 2005) provides a revolutionary new framework, based in neuro-biology, by which to understand and care for the educational needs of our sons.
Michael has served as a consultant to families, corporations, therapists, physicians, school districts, community agencies, churches, criminal justice personnel and other professionals, traveling to approximately 20 cities a year to keynote at conferences. His training videos (also available as DVDs) for parents and volunteers are used by Big Brother and Big Sister agencies in the U.S. and Canada.
As an educator, Michael previously taught at Gonzaga University, Eastern Washington University, and Ankara University. His speaking engagements include Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, Stanford University, Macalester College, University of Colorado, University of Missouri-Kansas City, and UCLA. His philosophy reflects the diverse cultures (European, Asian, Middle Eastern and American) in which he has lived, worked and studied.
Michael's work has been featured in various media, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Newsweek, Time, People, Reader's Digest, the Wall Street Journal, Parenting, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and on the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, PBS and National Public Radio.
Michael can be reached on the worldwide web at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

267 of 283 people found the following review helpful By Robert Delsol on June 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
Some time ago I read this book and found it to be incredibly insightful. Not only did it help me understand my sons better, but I also came to understand myself better as well. I so enjoyed it that I came back to this review page recently to find suggestions of other books of this type. I was shocked to see that the rating had dropped precipitously since I'd first read it, brought down by a batch of scathing reviews. I noticed that they all sounded strangely the same - using hyperbolic, if not hyperventilating rhetoric, nearly all of them charging the book with "misogyny". As if championing the role of a father in a boy's life is somehow "woman-hating." Or suggesting that boys will be boys, so why don't we channel their natural aggression into positive activities is "dangerous". Naturally, most of these attackers did not cite examples (those who rely on name-calling and invective rather than reasoned thought never do.) There was one exception, though she completely misrepresented the author's point. I hope those of you considering this book are guided more by the reviews that actually discuss the ideas in the book, rather than those reviews poisoned by political agenda. This is an important book well worth your consideration.
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Karen on December 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
Gurian has done an astoundingly thorough job in addressing the issues many of us face in raising boys today. I have read other books about raising boys, including other books by Gurian (also good), but this one by far is the most comprehensive, thoughtfully put together book I've ever read. I think that anyone who is thoughtful about raising sons and committed to doing the best job possible should take a good look at this book and give serious consideration to his ideas.

Gurian admits in this book that he does not have all the answers and is constantly working to refine his suggestions. I love what he has done and how he has done it, by actually talking with many families and kids around the world, and using this information, along with neuroscience, and his rich cultural background and education to formulate these suggestions.

The book is based on the unique testosterone driven neurological needs of males. It explains this in detail and how to best support a boy's development and channel a boy's natural aggression into a positive and constructive way of life through out the different stages of development. If you do not believe in the idea of "testosterone driven neurological needs" of boys, then this book may not be for you. But there have been many studies done that have shown the differences in male and female brains and much experiential evidence that there are differences. Any teacher and parent I have asked who has both sons and daughters attests to these differences. Again, if you are a parent of boys and committed to doing the best job you can, this book deserves a sincere look, and these ideas, serious consideration.

I do see this book as a passionate advocate for boys and maleness, but NOT as male over female promoting.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Funky Mo-Unky on October 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
I bought this book for a quarter at a garage sale. I am a male, but I don't have kids of my own (and no I'm not looking to lure any into my unmarked van!) I'm a preschool teacher and when I bought this book I can't say I actually intended on reading it. I was more or less going to use it for reference, but I was suddenly confronted with a class that was almost entirely boys, and not just any type of boys but rowdy inattentive boys.

I can see how a lot of reviewers have claimed that this book is sexist and lacks in scientific research. Normally I'm turned away by books that don't have solid scientific backing, but I work with kids and I can tell you...there's no exact anything, let alone science when it comes to understanding children. This is where this book has been incredibly helpful because a lot of his points are heavily based on observation. As a male myself with a strong sense of my own childhood, I can tell you his observations are fairly accurate when it comes to the things that boys need in order to thrive. I'm not saying every point he made was an exact science, but it struck a chord with me as a male because it fit with what I knew as a kid, and even what I know today to be true of myself.

Some of his points are more general, such as boys being more spatially oriented, and task specific. And for those who are claiming he's sexist for even making distinctions in these area's, they need to do a little more research. I'm not for excluding any gender, but there are inherent differences between boys and girls and if you play to the strong suits of one or the other you're going to get a better effect. In my case I had to make my class more task driven.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Ben W. on August 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
The negative reviews of this book are completely off the mark.It is NOT anti-female and Mr.Gurian is NOT a "closet misogynist" nor is he promoting a "dangerous" book.The author does reveal alot of passion and genuine concern for the problems facing boys,and he recognizes something that all teachers and parents should recognize,that boys and girls are different(hate to repeat the phrase,but people dont seem to be getting it)and that boys should NOT be feminized at home or in school.Being more physical,more aggressive,more competitive,is hard-wired into a boys is not something that should be stifled with medication or unnecessary punishment.Boys need some boundaries and some discipline,sure,but they dont need to have what makes them boys taken away from them.This book does not have an "agenda",but the fems who condemn it certainly do.
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