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Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920 (Gender Relations in the American Experience) Hardcover – June 20, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Pettegrew... casts a challenge against conventionally accepted Darwinian notions of brutishness as an essential and natural male trait. He argues that male dominance and aggression are not predestined by instinct, but culturally and ideologically constructed, desired, and performed through time... This book contributes to intellectual and cultural history on gender and manhood.

(Choice)

Pettegrew's book remains rigorous and passionate in its narration of the historic appeal as well as the immediate dangers of de-evolutionary masculinity.

(Jennifer Travis American Historical Review)

Ambitious study... valuable in exploring the vast cultural production of masculine instinct as a fact of life.

(Woody Register Labor History)

To Pettegrew's great credit, his study looks both forward and back: at the way masculinity was naturalized as aggressive in turn-of-the-century society; and, perhaps more importantly, at the extent to which modern-day historians, scientists, and ordinary citizens deploy discourses of evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and psychology in a misplaced effort to read gender as the offspring of biology and society.

(Martin A. Berger Journal of American History)

Will be of interest to scholars of cultures of violence and middle-American masculinity. He offers a solid history of the naturalizing revelry of men in the violence they do.

(Neal King American Journal of Sociology)

It will spark debate within the field for its bold explanation of why modern men feel as though violence is both their burden and right.

(Ryan Anderson H-SHGAPE, H-Net Reviews)

[A] vivid, massively researched history of 'hyper-masculine' sensibility at the turn of the twentieth century... An instructive and provocative view of men’s dark side.

(Peter Filene Men and Masculinities)

This fascinating and ambitious study explores how an aggressive 'de-evolutionary' model of masculinity was woven into a broad range of American institutions... Pettegrew brings together feminist theory, 'an anthropological ironist perspective' and a wealth of gender studies scholarship to investigate the development of a pervasive mindset of brutish masculinity within a rich selection of archival and popular cultural materials... This well-researched and engaging volume will certainly enrich the ever-growing field of men's studies.

(Christina Jarvis Gender and History)

This lively, well-written exploration of the 'de-evolutionary' turn in the dominant model of masculinity in the United States since the mid-nineteenth century is smart, compelling, and often tartly funny.

(Toby L. Ditz, Johns Hopkins University)

From the Back Cover

The violent and hyper strain of masculinity in modern America is rooted in historical memory, as John Pettegrew demonstrates in this sharply critical study of the cultural construction of sexual difference and the male instinct for aggressiveness. Broadly gauged and deeply researched institutional histories of social science, popular literature, college football, military culture, and the law divulge a master de-evolutionary impulse of projecting brutishness into the distant human and animal past where late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century men could embrace it as the predominant natural trait of manhood.

"[A] vivid, massively researched history of 'hyper-masculine' sensibility at the turn of the twentieth century... An instructive and provocative view of men’s dark side."― Men and Masculinities

"This fascinating and ambitious study explores how an aggressive 'de-evolutionary' model of masculinity was woven into a broad range of American institutions... Pettegrew brings together feminist theory, 'an anthropological ironist perspective' and a wealth of gender studies scholarship to investigate the development of a pervasive mindset of brutish masculinity within a rich selection of archival and popular cultural materials."― Gender and History

"Pettegrew's book remains rigorous and passionate in its narration of the historic appeal as well as the immediate dangers of de-evolutionary masculinity."― American Historical Review

"Pettegrew demonstrates how... Americans projected preexisting gender biases onto the behavior of animals and 'primitive' peoples, thereby rationalizing the aggressive, and often violent, actions of modern-day European-American men as the 'natural' expression of their 'animalistic' core."― Journal of American History

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