From industrial workers to modern war veterans, from astronauts to porn actors, Stiffed examines men whose sense that they have lost jobs, skills, roles, wives and a secure future is only one symptom of a wider betrayal.
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Susan Faludi, author of the feminist bestseller Backlash, has done it again with an exhaustive report on the betrayals felt by working men throughout the United States. American men are angry and discontented, she argues in Stiffed because their sense of what it is to be a man has been destroyed by everything from corporate downsizing and the shrinking military of the post-Cold War era to the increase in local sports teams leaving town. Whether she's interviewing the teenage male members of Southern California's infamous Spur Posse (who collected "points" for every female they had sex with), Cleveland football fans shaken by the departure of the Browns football team, militia movement activists or Sylvester Stallone, Faludi seems stuck on the idea that American men today are man-boys, unable to completely grow up because they never received the nurturing they needed, and are now constantly disappointed by life. Yet while many of the men Faludi interviews have real problems--bad luck and sad, troubled lives--somehow Stiffed still seems a bit whiny. Faludi's "travels through a post-war male realm" are a fascinating slice of male American life "under siege" at the end of the 20th century, even if she does finally leave us like the men she talked to--still wondering just what went wrong. -- Linda Killian
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