Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era
By Michael Kimmel
Nation Books. 314 pp.
A latte-sipping academic type walks into a gun show in rural Pennsylvania in search of so-called angry white men to interview about the fires that fuel their rage. “I’m your worst nightmare,” he tells prospective interviewees. “I’m a liberal New York Jewish sociologist, and I live in the bluest city in the bluest state in the country.” And with this line, at different gun show venues around the country, he signs up 40 men to provide glimpses of what makes them—and any potential emotional bombs inside them—tick.
These glimpses are at the core of Angry White Men, the latest book by Michael Kimmel, professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University of New York. To Kimmel’s credit, he sets aside his own opinions and listens, for the most part without judgment, to a litany of complaints from his interviewees: tales of lost jobs, lost social and economic status, lost possibilities for happiness due to failed marriages and custody battles. Few, if any, of these disappointments or debacles are their fault, they insist: it’s America that has lost its way. Men are no longer on top. Women no longer know their place. Immigrant and ethnic groups are taking the jobs that should be theirs. These men aren’t just mad as hell, Kimmel reports: they feel justified in being so. Although, as…