cover image The Men from the Boys: Rites of Passage in Male America

The Men from the Boys: Rites of Passage in Male America

Ray Raphael. University of Nebraska Press, $25 (228pp) ISBN 978-0-8032-3888-6

This book of pop sociology attempts to explain modern-day male insecurity by the absence of initiation rituals. In these, boys were elevated to manhood through tribal ceremonies that included often-painful tests of strength and hunting skill, seclusion and name changes. Achieving manhood is more complicated in our post-industrial society, says Raphael ( Edges , Cash Crop ), principally because separate and private definitions of maturity are involved. To make his case, the author interviews 100 American men, aged 15 to 50, and lets them tell their own coming-of-age stories in ``oral history'' style. Among the contemporary ``rites of passage'' they mention are military service, athletics, a job involving arduous physical labor, sexual conquests and fraternity initiations. Raphael raises interesting questions but offers no clues as to how his research could help solve the insecure man's dilemma. ( Dec.)