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The New York Times bestselling author of Pledged is back with an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall look inside fraternity houses from current brothers' perspectives--and a fresh, riveting must-read about what it's like to be a college guy today. Two real-life stories. One stunning twist. Meet Jake, a studious freshman weighing how far to go to find a brotherhood that will intro The New York Times bestselling author of Pledged is back with an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall look inside fraternity houses from current brothers' perspectives--and a fresh, riveting must-read about what it's like to be a college guy today. Two real-life stories. One stunning twist. Meet Jake, a studious freshman weighing how far to go to find a brotherhood that will introduce him to lifelong friends and help conquer his social awkwardness; and Oliver, a hardworking chapter president trying to keep his misunderstood fraternity out of trouble despite multiple run-ins with the police. Their year-in-the-life stories help explain why students are joining fraternities in record numbers despite scandalous headlines. To find out what it's like to be a fraternity brother in the twenty-first century, Robbins contacted hundreds of brothers whose chapters don't make headlines--and who suggested that many fraternities can be healthy safe spaces for men. Fraternity is more than just a page-turning, character-driven read. It's a vital book about the transition from boyhood to manhood; it brilliantly weaves psychology, current events, neuroscience, and interviews to explore the state of masculinity today, and what that means for students and their parents. It's a different kind of story about college boys, a story in which they candidly discuss sex, friendship, social media, drinking, peer pressure, gender roles, and even porn. And it's a book about boys at a vulnerable age, living on their own for perhaps the first time. Boys who, in a climate that can stigmatize them merely for being male, don't necessarily want to navigate the complicated, coming-of-age journey to manhood alone.


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The New York Times bestselling author of Pledged is back with an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall look inside fraternity houses from current brothers' perspectives--and a fresh, riveting must-read about what it's like to be a college guy today. Two real-life stories. One stunning twist. Meet Jake, a studious freshman weighing how far to go to find a brotherhood that will intro The New York Times bestselling author of Pledged is back with an unprecedented fly-on-the-wall look inside fraternity houses from current brothers' perspectives--and a fresh, riveting must-read about what it's like to be a college guy today. Two real-life stories. One stunning twist. Meet Jake, a studious freshman weighing how far to go to find a brotherhood that will introduce him to lifelong friends and help conquer his social awkwardness; and Oliver, a hardworking chapter president trying to keep his misunderstood fraternity out of trouble despite multiple run-ins with the police. Their year-in-the-life stories help explain why students are joining fraternities in record numbers despite scandalous headlines. To find out what it's like to be a fraternity brother in the twenty-first century, Robbins contacted hundreds of brothers whose chapters don't make headlines--and who suggested that many fraternities can be healthy safe spaces for men. Fraternity is more than just a page-turning, character-driven read. It's a vital book about the transition from boyhood to manhood; it brilliantly weaves psychology, current events, neuroscience, and interviews to explore the state of masculinity today, and what that means for students and their parents. It's a different kind of story about college boys, a story in which they candidly discuss sex, friendship, social media, drinking, peer pressure, gender roles, and even porn. And it's a book about boys at a vulnerable age, living on their own for perhaps the first time. Boys who, in a climate that can stigmatize them merely for being male, don't necessarily want to navigate the complicated, coming-of-age journey to manhood alone.

30 review for Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    Robbins does some of my favorite nonfiction: it's narrative and investigative, digging into big topics on a micro and macro level. What I really appreciated about FRATERNITY was seeing both sides of the coin when it comes to (white, male) Greek life. We see why it's appealing through two Fraternity members in different schools and Fraternities; we also see first-hand why it's not appealing through those same two boys, and for very very different reasons. Rather than pull the narrative a specific Robbins does some of my favorite nonfiction: it's narrative and investigative, digging into big topics on a micro and macro level. What I really appreciated about FRATERNITY was seeing both sides of the coin when it comes to (white, male) Greek life. We see why it's appealing through two Fraternity members in different schools and Fraternities; we also see first-hand why it's not appealing through those same two boys, and for very very different reasons. Rather than pull the narrative a specific way, Robbins allows all of the story to flow from their perspective, and she weaves together the nuances and considerations outside of their experiences. This isn't cherry picking. It's thoughtful analysis and critique. More, I loved the way this dove into toxic masculinity and about the struggle for (white, male) young adults to fit in and become something they see in the media. Robbins is smart to highlight race here, too, pointing out the ways that Greek life is very white and very straight and what that does or doesn't say about masculinity and our culture as well. If you loved PLEDGED, you'll love this one. It's neat to also think of this in conjunction with SECRETS OF THE TOMB: SKULL AND BONES and the story of power, of secret societies, and the ivy league here, too. Excellent crossover appeal for teen readers. Resources in the final chapter highlight ways to navigate Greek life and ferret out the good from the bad -- if such a dichotomy is even appropriate.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men, by Alexandra Robbins, is an eye-opening, insightful investigation into the secrets and life in a fraternity. The author takes us on the journey of two young men (Jake and Oliver) in the "Greek" life. The readers are exposed to the positive and negative life-changing experiences they endured. This book is less about the "what" than the "why" of fraternities. Parents of high schoolers need to understand more about the lifestyle so t Fraternity: An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men, by Alexandra Robbins, is an eye-opening, insightful investigation into the secrets and life in a fraternity. The author takes us on the journey of two young men (Jake and Oliver) in the "Greek" life. The readers are exposed to the positive and negative life-changing experiences they endured. This book is less about the "what" than the "why" of fraternities. Parents of high schoolers need to understand more about the lifestyle so that they can help their children decide where to apply to college and whether to go "Greek". Financial, physical, emotional, academic and safety aspects of fraternity memberships need to be considered so that the parents and students choose wisely. Extremely informative advice and tips are offered making this book a very helpful tool that is long overdo and well worth the read. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group Dutton for an arc of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alexandra Robbins

    All right, I've seen others review their books, so I guess I will too, in a way. This book is important because we need to pay more attention to teenage boys. It's not right to lump them all into the same stereotypical category simply because of their gender. The headlines don't represent the scores of GOOD guys who are teens, who are in college, and who happen to be in fraternities. And the way to change a subculture isn't to dismiss all of its members, but, rather, to try to understand their p All right, I've seen others review their books, so I guess I will too, in a way. This book is important because we need to pay more attention to teenage boys. It's not right to lump them all into the same stereotypical category simply because of their gender. The headlines don't represent the scores of GOOD guys who are teens, who are in college, and who happen to be in fraternities. And the way to change a subculture isn't to dismiss all of its members, but, rather, to try to understand their perspectives and to recognize that most people are good people who want to do good works. I wrote this book to give boys that voice, and to provide parents and students - of both genders - with a discussion tool so they can have a safer experience at school and on their own for the first time. Discussing the issues in Jake's and Oliver's stories is an easier, less awkward way for parents and students to talk about important issues like drinking, sex, friendships, identity, and partying. I hope that families find this book helpful and that other readers come to see America's teen guys in a more balanced light.

  4. 5 out of 5

    The Story Girl

    Alexandra Robbins is one of my favorite non-fiction authors and journalists, so I was so excited to read her next book and get an inside look at what fraternities are really like. Throughout the book, we get to follow Jake, who is a "freshman searching for brotherhood," and not your typical frat boy. He was an overachiever in high school whose idea of a good time on a Friday night was going to the movies and not really into drinking. He really only decides to rush because his dad was in a frater Alexandra Robbins is one of my favorite non-fiction authors and journalists, so I was so excited to read her next book and get an inside look at what fraternities are really like. Throughout the book, we get to follow Jake, who is a "freshman searching for brotherhood," and not your typical frat boy. He was an overachiever in high school whose idea of a good time on a Friday night was going to the movies and not really into drinking. He really only decides to rush because his dad was in a fraternity. Over the course of the year, we see him go through the highs and lows of rushing, pledging, hazing, wanting to give up, and the mindset that he has throughout all this. We also get to follow Oliver, who is a chapter president who has to deal with trying to keep his fraternity afloat after facing so many citations by police officers. Robbins chose these two because "they represent students missing from the media and contemporary literature: smart, goodhearted, self-aware, earnest fraternity members whom readers would root for." Despite it being non-fiction, she writes in such a narrative way that keeps you hooked and wondering what will happen next. Along with that, each chapter has insightful academic discussions addressing all the stereotypes about fraternities. She doesn't sugarcoat anything and lays out all the facts, from the toxic nature of some fraternities to why fraternities are so successful even today, and why they are such a distinctly American concept. But one of my favorite parts was the fascinating social history of how fraternities began in America, then dwindled, then rose again (in large part to the picture of college life portrayed in the movie Animal House, and then to alcohol companies' advertisements). And when the drinking age was increased to 21, that didn't help matters any because now instead of students drinking at bars, they moved to private places like fraternity houses, who now controlled the scene, and by the 1990s, 86% of fraternity brothers became binge drinkers. Overall, I really enjoyed this book and it gave me a lot to think about besides simply the stereotypes that you read about in the news. Don't get me wrong, there are still so many racist fraternity chapters out there, but there are some good inclusionary ones too, and she highlights them both. And I am already looking forward to what Alexandra Robbins writes next! Thank you to the publisher for providing me a copy to read in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

    Thank you for the advance copy. I enjoyed reading and learning about the fraternity system through the eyes of two young men, one who belongs to what seems to be a stereotypical fraternity and the other who creates a much more positive experience as president of his frat. All aspects of frat life are covered and everything from good to bad is discussed. No issue is left unaddressed. This would be a helpful book for parents of young men who want to join fraternities.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jill

    Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy. I am a huge fan of Alexandra Robbins' books, with "Pledged" being my absolute favorite. So when I heard she was writing a book about fraternities, I was so excited. One of my favorite things about Robbins' books is the way she goes back and forth between the research she has uncovered about her chosen topic and her subjects. With "Fraternity" it's two men, one who has just started college and is looking into joining the Greek system and one who is Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy. I am a huge fan of Alexandra Robbins' books, with "Pledged" being my absolute favorite. So when I heard she was writing a book about fraternities, I was so excited. One of my favorite things about Robbins' books is the way she goes back and forth between the research she has uncovered about her chosen topic and her subjects. With "Fraternity" it's two men, one who has just started college and is looking into joining the Greek system and one who is Chapter President and the issues and obstacles that come with the position. Robbins takes us behind the scenes of fraternity life while following the two men over the course of a year. As always, her writing and storytelling is wonderful and research insightful. Along with the two men she follows, the book is full of quotes and stories from other men in fraternities from all over. I could not put this book down.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    My feeling as I wrapped up reading "Fraternity" was sadness. Seeing how one of the teenagers the book follows (Jake) was so influenced by his fraternity to become--in my opinion--a person who lost some of his moral code and personality kind of broke my heart. As a mom of two teenage boys who will be heading to college in the coming years, I wanted to find out more about fraternities, beyond the stories we read in the news. "Fraternity" helped me get a first-hand account of pledging, hazing, and My feeling as I wrapped up reading "Fraternity" was sadness. Seeing how one of the teenagers the book follows (Jake) was so influenced by his fraternity to become--in my opinion--a person who lost some of his moral code and personality kind of broke my heart. As a mom of two teenage boys who will be heading to college in the coming years, I wanted to find out more about fraternities, beyond the stories we read in the news. "Fraternity" helped me get a first-hand account of pledging, hazing, and parties but it also followed one fraternity leader as he worked to create a different kind of brotherhood that is more about supporting each other in a positive way. Ultimately, I'm reminded that you really do need to pick your friends wisely and that a man is known by the company he keeps. With thanks to Dutton for the ARC. Opinions are my own.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. The number one thing this book accomplished was to make me dread sending my (currently three-year-old) child to college someday. Much like author Alexandra Robbins's book Sorority, Fraternity examines the impact of these organizations on the individual, the group, and the institution. The focus is on two students in particular- one, a freshman pledge at a fraternity that fits the stereotypical image Thanks to the publisher, via Netgalley, for an advance e-galley in exchange for an honest review. The number one thing this book accomplished was to make me dread sending my (currently three-year-old) child to college someday. Much like author Alexandra Robbins's book Sorority, Fraternity examines the impact of these organizations on the individual, the group, and the institution. The focus is on two students in particular- one, a freshman pledge at a fraternity that fits the stereotypical image of a fraternity as an alcohol fueled, sexist, dangerous organization; the other, a young chapter president of a fraternity that prides itself on its service and treatment of others. Reading the second viewpoint was refreshing, as while the chapter struggled with a few incidents, they seemed to encourage each other to grow as decent human beings. On the other hand, it was difficult at times to read Jake's sections and watch him devolve as his values changed to better align with the organization's. I attended a small women's college with virtually no Greek life, and obviously no fraternities, so this is a world that is unfamiliar and disconcerting to me. I appreciated the author's inclusion of the benefits of fraternity life to its members, as well as the issues plaguing the organizations. This book should become required reading for parents of teens considering Greek life, especially those, like me, with no real knowledge or experience with the organizations, and would also be a book I'd like in the hands of teens themselves considering pledging.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    They ruined Jake.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Ward

    Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins (Dutton 2019) (371.855) (3400). [DISCLAIMER: My youngest son is an eighteen-year-old freshman at a major southern state university. He is currently in the midst of his first week of pledge season after going through fraternity rush and accepting a bid from one of the oldest national Greek-letter organizations. His chapter has well over a hundred active brothers and a large house right in the middle of frater Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins (Dutton 2019) (371.855) (3400). [DISCLAIMER: My youngest son is an eighteen-year-old freshman at a major southern state university. He is currently in the midst of his first week of pledge season after going through fraternity rush and accepting a bid from one of the oldest national Greek-letter organizations. His chapter has well over a hundred active brothers and a large house right in the middle of fraternity row. Forty-one years ago, I pledged a national fraternity at a small private liberal-arts college. We had fifty-something brothers which made us the largest fraternity on campus by a wide margin. Although my fraternity experience was completely and overwhelmingly positive, I have had little contact in recent years with Greek-letter organizations. So when my baby boy announced that he had decided to pledge a fraternity, I realized it was time to explore whether and how far the Greek system had changed since my own college days. I was further spurred to read Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men by Alexandra Robbins when I read the book Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein (Harper 2016) (306.70835) (3397). A recent female college grad whose judgement I respect had praised Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape as an accurate barometer of the sexual culture of today's teens and twenty-somethings. Since the vast majority of the information introduced in Girls and Sex references the behaviors of members of Greek-letter organizations, I decided to read Alexandra Robbins' book for further insight into what young people might be experiencing on campus today. My review of Orenstein's title Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape is posted on Goodreads.] Author Alexandra Robbins' Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men provides a fresh perspective on life among Greek-letter organizations in 2019. The author has previously written about the experiences of young women in sorority life; her instant work focuses on young college men. Robbins has structured the book to highlight the differences between a healthy fraternity experience and a healthy fraternity chapter with the experience of an unhealthy Greek organization which institutionalizes a disregard of the rules of its national charter and of campus safety rules. Robbins' narrative follows the stories of two typical students through rush, pledge season, and thereafter as full brothers in their fraternities. Along with the accounts of those two young men, each of Robbins' chapters concludes with recommendations and observations which the author believes should be adopted to make fraternities safer, healthier, and more inclusive – for the benefit of fraternity members as well as the student body as a whole.According to Robbins, the traditional hazing of pledges by many fraternity chapters continues unabated in 2019. She believes that although the practice is publicly decried and condemned by university administrators, alumni, and the national offices of many of the various brotherhoods, it is nevertheless generally tolerated if not outright condoned.Robbins suggests that alcohol abuse continues to be a major problem among fraternities notwithstanding rules and prohibitions propounded by campus authorities. Thankfully universities across the board now require that all students periodically attend seminars and programs designed to raise awareness of the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.As to the issue of the sex lives of today's college students, Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men paints a much less inflammatory portrait of campus sex than did Peggy Orenstein in Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. However, it is unclear whether Alexandra Robbins' take on the matter actually differs from that of Peggy Orenstein or whether Robbins simply chose to largely gloss over the subject. Both books, however, agree that fraternity acceptance of forced drinking and drinking to excess often leads to poor sexual choices and to devastasting consequences.Alexandra Robbins has raised many issues which require thoughtful consideration. She believes that the most important factor in keeping young students safe and healthy is the availability of mentors with whom honest communication flows whether the mentors are parents, trusted adults, or other role models.Fall Break is coming up at my freshman's school, and he will be coming home for a few days. After reading Fraternity: An Inside Look At a Year of College Boys Becoming Men, we have a lot to talk about.My rating: 7/10, finished 10/14/19.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danielle

    Alexandra Robbins wrote a very popular book exposing sororities a number of years ago and prefaced this book by saying that she wasn't coming at it from the same angle and that she found a lot to recommend about fraternities and what they do to help support and shape young men during what can be a very lonely and difficult time of their lives. She focuses by following two young men in two different fraternities at two different schools while also talking about fraternities as a whole and sprinkl Alexandra Robbins wrote a very popular book exposing sororities a number of years ago and prefaced this book by saying that she wasn't coming at it from the same angle and that she found a lot to recommend about fraternities and what they do to help support and shape young men during what can be a very lonely and difficult time of their lives. She focuses by following two young men in two different fraternities at two different schools while also talking about fraternities as a whole and sprinkling in other stories. Despite her efforts to talk about the good fraternities do this book did nothing to change my opinion of fraternities. There may be some good, but on the whole it seems like the bad definitely outweighs it. The things that one of the young men she writes about goes through during his pledge year are horrifying and even more so as you see him become brain washed into changing his whole outlook on how terrible these things are and then subsequently do them to others in future years. This book is a really good look into the fraternity system and poses a lot of questions at the end to parents and their teenage sons who may be thinking about rushing a fraternity.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Susan Csoke

    These are the stories of young men and their year in College. What it means to be in a Fraternity and how they grew from boys to men. Thankyou Goodreads for this free book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Debbie

    This was fascinating! I would advise any parent of a young man considering Greek life to read this. It will provide a LOT of material for you to discuss with your son before he takes the plunge. I thought it was refreshing to hear about "good" fraternities and how they can be so good for college students. It was also fascinating to see how a "good" young man could turn into something he really wasn't by pledging a not-so-good fraternity. I am happy that I experienced Greek life so many years ago This was fascinating! I would advise any parent of a young man considering Greek life to read this. It will provide a LOT of material for you to discuss with your son before he takes the plunge. I thought it was refreshing to hear about "good" fraternities and how they can be so good for college students. It was also fascinating to see how a "good" young man could turn into something he really wasn't by pledging a not-so-good fraternity. I am happy that I experienced Greek life so many years ago and not in present day. It wasn't all great but I was fortunate to find a place that was very good for me.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Steve Peifer

    Sometimes the mark of a great book is the courage of the author. I read two different books last year where the author wrote based on their original premise and regardless of where the data was leading, the author stayed with the original premise. The books were a waste of time. The easy book to write is that all fraternities are evil and they should all be shut down. There is a ton of anecdotal information that suggests it might be a really good idea to do just that. She shares it all. What Robbin Sometimes the mark of a great book is the courage of the author. I read two different books last year where the author wrote based on their original premise and regardless of where the data was leading, the author stayed with the original premise. The books were a waste of time. The easy book to write is that all fraternities are evil and they should all be shut down. There is a ton of anecdotal information that suggests it might be a really good idea to do just that. She shares it all. What Robbins discovers is that many young men need the coaching and friendship you find in a non toxic fraternity. What her research finds is there are many fraternities that are committed to helping young men become good men, and the positive impact they have is profound. The book follows two students in their Greek journey, and you see a nice kid become a repulsive human in the hands of a toxic system, and another young man who gets to exercise leadership opportunities and become a better person. Their journey is captivating. It’s a brave book by a wise author who will make you think. She always makes me think; she is a national treasure.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Fraternity is a well written glimpse into the world of college social fraternities. I've read a few of Robbins' books and they are excellent non-fiction books that will appeal to people who normally read fiction titles. I'm delighted with the timing of this book; my own son is a senior in high school and headed off to college next fall. While I don't think he would have an interest in joining a fraternity, I found this book to be extremely informative regarding the social science behind the urge Fraternity is a well written glimpse into the world of college social fraternities. I've read a few of Robbins' books and they are excellent non-fiction books that will appeal to people who normally read fiction titles. I'm delighted with the timing of this book; my own son is a senior in high school and headed off to college next fall. While I don't think he would have an interest in joining a fraternity, I found this book to be extremely informative regarding the social science behind the urge to join these organizations. It also is an excellent resource on things to look for, or have your son look for, before rushing a fraternity. While I don't think I would encourage my son to pledge, after reading this book, I wouldn't be horrified either. The book follows a year in the life of two young men who are active in two very different fraternities at different schools. That part of the story reads like a narrative and I found it to be the most revealing. Peppered in in the middle of these narratives are short essays and interviews that explain the culture, concerns, and the benefits of fraternities. I would recommend this book to parents whose children are about to enter college as well as anyone who was a GDI in school (like me) because it is a captivating glimpse into a very secret world.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    As a mother of an eighteen year old boy who is going away to college next year, I appreciated this book and its depiction of college life. Not all fraternities are the same and young men join for a variety of reasons. Robbins writes about how many young men long for connection and friendship. Fraternities and their rituals and brotherhood provide a scaffold to build such connections. One of the boys featured in the book finds a good place in his fraternity where he makes friends and takes on rew As a mother of an eighteen year old boy who is going away to college next year, I appreciated this book and its depiction of college life. Not all fraternities are the same and young men join for a variety of reasons. Robbins writes about how many young men long for connection and friendship. Fraternities and their rituals and brotherhood provide a scaffold to build such connections. One of the boys featured in the book finds a good place in his fraternity where he makes friends and takes on rewarding leadership roles. However, the portrait of the second boy, "Jake" was both sad and horrifying to me. A smart, polite kid, he joins a fraternity where he regularly experiences humiliation during the first year (they will not admit to hazing). He is pressured to drink and hook up with girls--especially girls from high ranking sororities. Jake's grades suffer, he partakes in a culture that belittles women, calls for conformity, and rewards risky drinking. I learned that some fraternities (especially those that have made efforts to become more diverse) can be nurturing places. However, others harbor superficial values at best. An eye-opening book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    I think this book offers some great commentary into an area that is not discussed too often.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Erica Zutz

    I have always been passively curious about fraternities. This is a great look at Greek life and both pro and con.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sophia

    Sparked a lot of interesting conversations about groupthink and how society defines masculinity!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carolyn Kost

    The content of this book was so distressing and nausea-producing I decided not to finish it; I have no idea how anyone could. I surrendered at page 177. The very thought of exposing young men (and ladies) to this unconscionable behavior in universities makes me rethink everything I tell parents as a College Counselor. Evidently we are meant to overlook the enforced sex acts (!), sexual predation and objectification of women, the pornography, the rape jokes, the masculine stereotypes, the alcohol The content of this book was so distressing and nausea-producing I decided not to finish it; I have no idea how anyone could. I surrendered at page 177. The very thought of exposing young men (and ladies) to this unconscionable behavior in universities makes me rethink everything I tell parents as a College Counselor. Evidently we are meant to overlook the enforced sex acts (!), sexual predation and objectification of women, the pornography, the rape jokes, the masculine stereotypes, the alcohol consumption, the subordination of schoolwork to partying, the abandonment of religious and all moral values, that supposedly leads to positive formation of young gentlemen? We are meant to see that older fraternity brothers model responsible drinking? The universities make no concerted effort, just abdicate responsibility. I have never felt more disgusted by tertiary (I refuse to write "higher" education). I don't care whether the fraternities benefit the two young men the author studies because no end result could justify what they experience. It runs counter to everything I would want a university to be to its students. Horrifying. "Late adolescents, psychologists have found, experience an unusually powerful pressure to conform to peer norms" (146), which explains why they engage in problematic behaviors and why they become sheep that follow the prevailing ideology (think postmodern moral relativism) du jour. The behaviors and attitudes describe in this book should make you reconsider sending your son or daughter away to college. The fact I just can't read the rest of it doesn't detract from its importance. Better to be forewarned.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Annabelle Habber

    I could not put this book down. It is an important read for everyone about boys in these times, and it is enjoyable to read because the story is very engrossing. Thank you to Penguin Random House for the advance copy.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Walton

    I received an advanced copy of Fraternity to review for my college newspaper, The Review. Here's a preview of what I had to say: This is the type of writing Robbins seems to have found her footing in — approachable and informative, but casual. Her Goodreads page identifies her style as “poolside nonfiction,” which is the most fitting phrase I can think of when describing the style of “Fraternity.” She manages to tackle not only difficult topics but also generally complex ones, such as masculinity I received an advanced copy of Fraternity to review for my college newspaper, The Review. Here's a preview of what I had to say: This is the type of writing Robbins seems to have found her footing in — approachable and informative, but casual. Her Goodreads page identifies her style as “poolside nonfiction,” which is the most fitting phrase I can think of when describing the style of “Fraternity.” She manages to tackle not only difficult topics but also generally complex ones, such as masculinity and various theories of social psychology. Most admirably, Robbins does this while still maintaining a tone of breezy accessibility. It is the kind of book that could be appealing to both those who regularly read nonfiction and those who prefer fiction, something that could help boost conversations not only about the book itself but about Greek life in general. You can read the full review here.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    I've read a few of Robbins' books, and I have to say this isn't her best work. While I liked her familiar writing style as always, I wasn't so fond of how she seemed to try to go out of her way to show the positive aspects of Greek life and spent less time analyzing how her human subjects were able to distance themselves from their own morality and boundaries just to be accepted into a fraternity. The groupthink issue was addressed, but not nearly as thoroughly or as often as the concept of "bro I've read a few of Robbins' books, and I have to say this isn't her best work. While I liked her familiar writing style as always, I wasn't so fond of how she seemed to try to go out of her way to show the positive aspects of Greek life and spent less time analyzing how her human subjects were able to distance themselves from their own morality and boundaries just to be accepted into a fraternity. The groupthink issue was addressed, but not nearly as thoroughly or as often as the concept of "brotherhood". The sexual assault and binge drinking statistics were discussed, but AGAIN, the pros of fraternity life and how being a member makes young men feel seemed to be relegated to a more higher echelon of importance. While I get that some boys do not learn how to be vulnerable and create meaningful friendships in our society, I don't actually believe that fraternities, with their expensive dues and vows of secrecy and culture of booze is a very good way to deal with the problems of toxic masculinity in our country. Three stars, but reluctantly so.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    Following up on Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, Robbins dove back into the world of Greek life to examine the world of fraternities. The book focusses on two students: Jake, a freshman pledge at a sex-drinking-and-partying chapter, and Oliver, a sophomore and president of a more progressive frat. I've read most of Robbins's books at this point. Fraternity closely follows the fewest students of any of them (e.g., Pledged, The Overachievers, and The Nurses all followed four or more people), Following up on Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, Robbins dove back into the world of Greek life to examine the world of fraternities. The book focusses on two students: Jake, a freshman pledge at a sex-drinking-and-partying chapter, and Oliver, a sophomore and president of a more progressive frat. I've read most of Robbins's books at this point. Fraternity closely follows the fewest students of any of them (e.g., Pledged, The Overachievers, and The Nurses all followed four or more people), and I rather wish there had been more students followed here as well. It could just be that it was harder to get participants (fraternities are not exactly known for cheerfully letting outsiders in on their secrets, and it wouldn't be possible for Robbins to, for example, blend in in the same way she could sometimes in sororities. Robbins works hard to emphasise the 'not all men' argument for fraternities (i.e., 'not all fraternity brothers are hard-partying rapists' and 'not all fraternity chapters support hard-drinking rapists'—she literally says 'not in every chapter and not by every brother', which seems to be missing the point somewhat), but gosh, it's...it's not that I think all the apples are bad, but that some of the apples that are bad are really fucking toxic. Jake's fraternity, for example: not the sort of toxic that ends up in the news; not the sort of toxic that leads to lawsuits. Probably. But definitely the sort of toxic where any woman over a US size 4 is ridiculed (repeated mentions of 'whales' and 'harpooning'), as are any brothers who date a woman over said size, or where rape jokes are considered funny, or where pledges and newly initiated brothers are required to drink until they puke or pass out, or where coming thisclose to flunking a class is fine so long as one's pledge book is memorised. All in the name of brotherhood. Oliver's fraternity represents the better end of the scale: a place where the chapter takes pains to make sure it's a safe place not only for members but also for guests (including, or perhaps especially, female students), where hazing is not a thing but community projects are, and where any punishments meted out are done with an eye to growth. I'm honestly still not convinced it's somewhere I'd want (or have wanted in college) to spend any significant time anyway, but if Robbins wanted to make the point that there are healthy fraternities out there, then sure. If anything's clear, though, it's that Oliver's fraternity is not the norm. Neither are the worst fraternities, mind; if anything, it's frats like Jake's that are the middle ground. Basically okay people who find a community but also succumb to peer pressure and groupthink and turn into somewhat less decent human beings over time, maybe. And that's kind of sad, no? In both Pledged and Fraternity, Robbins talks some about the differences between historically white Greek life and historically black Greek life. I'd be curious to read something like In Search of Sisterhood or The Divine Nine, as the non-historically-white approach (yes, that's clunky phrasing, and yes, I'm going to let it stand) sounds very different, and probably much healthier.

  25. 5 out of 5

    skip thurnauer

    A lot has changed since I pledged a fraternity about 50 years ago (and my sons 25 years ago) - social media, the release of the "Animal House" movie and the spread/acceptance of binge drinking, the advent of the me-too movement, and a changing level of tolerance for Greek "hijinks" and bad behavior. Our fraternity significantly reduced rush and hell week thazing, and degradations in the mid-60s, but the practices described by Robbins were and are still widespread (& I fear our chapter backslid a A lot has changed since I pledged a fraternity about 50 years ago (and my sons 25 years ago) - social media, the release of the "Animal House" movie and the spread/acceptance of binge drinking, the advent of the me-too movement, and a changing level of tolerance for Greek "hijinks" and bad behavior. Our fraternity significantly reduced rush and hell week thazing, and degradations in the mid-60s, but the practices described by Robbins were and are still widespread (& I fear our chapter backslid after a hazing hiatus). Some of the most flagrant and inexcusable examples of hazing result in death, headline stories, and family heartbreak. Our university had a proud Greek heritage; 4 fraternities and one sorority were founded on campus. Today 11 fraternities out of about 30 are suspended or on probation, including 2 chapters founded at the university! These suspensions are due to the behaviors graphically depicted in Robbins "FRATERNITY An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men" - especially the zero tolerance alcohol policy. The year vividly follows the experiences of 2 men, Jake a young man who neither drank or partied in high school, and Oliver who is cast into a fraternity leadership role as a sophomore. How Jake and Oliver deal with pledging, partying, and hooking up offers a glimpse into the challenges that many young men (and women) still must confront when considering or entering Greek life on campus. Their stories made me wonder whether they were composites or exaggerations - are students so shallow & self-absorbed today - so I took some of the anecdotes with a grain of salt. For balance I checked my university's online Greek pages in the student manual. The Greeks still maintain higher academic averages and graduation rates than non-Greeks. When you see the unmonitored partying and drinking one block away from fraternity row, it is not surprising. Bad behavior isn't a Greek behavior or an independent behavior. At least there is some level of supervision over fraternities and sororities. I would recommend FRATERNITY to parents of students (& students?) considering joining a fraternity or sorority. But don't let Jake's and Oliver's stories scare you away. Check out your university's IFC and Panhellenic pages and learn how Greek organizations contribute to individual growth and collegiate life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    James

    So... I have a number of thoughts about this book that I'm still sorting out. So this review is a very rough one. First, my perspective. The Greek world is a strange one to me. As a non-Greek I've always tried to be non judgmental about these organizations. Not my thing, but you do you... So I came into this without a whole lot of bias. I think... My most pervasive reaction throughout the book was one of horror. As I read more and more about the practices of many fraternities, I just kept thinki So... I have a number of thoughts about this book that I'm still sorting out. So this review is a very rough one. First, my perspective. The Greek world is a strange one to me. As a non-Greek I've always tried to be non judgmental about these organizations. Not my thing, but you do you... So I came into this without a whole lot of bias. I think... My most pervasive reaction throughout the book was one of horror. As I read more and more about the practices of many fraternities, I just kept thinking "This is is awful!" By the end of the book, I was pretty convinced that the Greek system should be banned from colleges. Robbins says that her goal is to provide a nuanced view of fraternities and to move away from the stereotypes/bad name that they get. Maybe I missed something but she seemed to undermine that goal at mostly every turn. She provides horror story after horror story and in the analytical sections of her text, she identifies underlying problem after underlying problem with the Greek system. If this was meant to be a defense of the Greek system and its potential benefits, I hate to see what an attack on that system would look like. She provides glimpses into Greek organizations that might be more salutary, but for some reason she doesn't choose to focus on them. She could have tried to go inside a historically black or Hispanic fraternity to give us another view of the fraternity world, but instead they are presented as atypical EXACTLY BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE THE PROBLEMS TYPICAL OF most fraternities. Her idea of "good" fraternities seems to be fraternities that don't engage in the most abominable behavior. She notes (I think as a positive thing) that Oliver's fraternity didn't have one member accused of sexual assault during a whole school year. Think about it. That's her standard. If an organization's members aren't accused of sexual assault in a year, they should be congratulated. They piece of praise might be the most damning condemnation of the fraternity system. Revealing book, but the case was not made.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kase Noll

    Like many I pictured fraternity life to be partying, drinking, hazing, and getting in trouble constantly. I picked up fraternity while I was opening boxes for Barnes & Noble when I worked there. I started the read the first page, and before I knew it, I was 15 pages in. At the end of the work day I ended up buying the book. I finished it in about three days (pretty fast for me considering I’m a fairly slow reader). I hadn’t thought about joining a fraternity until the spring of this year. Differ Like many I pictured fraternity life to be partying, drinking, hazing, and getting in trouble constantly. I picked up fraternity while I was opening boxes for Barnes & Noble when I worked there. I started the read the first page, and before I knew it, I was 15 pages in. At the end of the work day I ended up buying the book. I finished it in about three days (pretty fast for me considering I’m a fairly slow reader). I hadn’t thought about joining a fraternity until the spring of this year. Different fraternity members from my university began reaching out to me and I started to think that maybe that life was for me. The one thing holding me back was that I knew nothing about fraternity life. All I had seen were various news reports about fraternities across the country being shutdown or banned for poor behavior and many times crimes. Reading this book opened my eyes to the many pros and cons of fraternity life and how different each one can be. It showed the lives of two different men and two completely different fraternities. I realized that not every fraternity just wanted to party and get all the women. Some of them genuinely cared about philanthropy and their educations. Some of them, though, do only care about drinking, parties, and women. I was weary still as I read through the book and about the two vastly different fraternities. On one hand there’s a great opportunity to expand your networks and gain lifelong friends. On the other hand there’s a chance to become a national headline for another death or sexual assault crime. This book was well written and was the ultimate deciding factor of me joining a fraternity. I was able to do more research and find fraternities that were more geared toward enhancing college life and education opportunities rather than just focusing on the party scene. Now I’m proudly part of a fraternity and I feel like I’ve found a group of men who support me and have the same goals in mind as I do. If it wasn’t for this book I wouldn’t be with that group of people today. It showed me the light and dark sides of Greek life and the things to be aware of when being part of a fraternity.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Graser

    🔎Book Review🔎 - I read Robbins’ Pledged back in 2010 and I gave it a 1 star. Ironically, in June of 2010, I had just graduated High School and wasn’t planning on joining a sorority. Less than 6 months later, I had joined, and now, I’m a national volunteer and my professional job is a Fraternity and Sorority Adviser for a University. - I don’t remember why I gave Pledged a 1 star back in the day, but I do remember what sticks in my mind now- a woman pretending to be an undergrad so she could go throu 🔎Book Review🔎 - I read Robbins’ Pledged back in 2010 and I gave it a 1 star. Ironically, in June of 2010, I had just graduated High School and wasn’t planning on joining a sorority. Less than 6 months later, I had joined, and now, I’m a national volunteer and my professional job is a Fraternity and Sorority Adviser for a University. - I don’t remember why I gave Pledged a 1 star back in the day, but I do remember what sticks in my mind now- a woman pretending to be an undergrad so she could go through recruitment, the author seeming to search out scenarios that confirmed biases, and then revealing sorority ritual secrets, simply because she could. - When I saw that Robbins had a follow-up coming out, I was intrigued. I knew it would be big news in my field and I was curious what perspective 15 years had given Robbins. The answer? A lot. Robbins clearly says that the book is not pro- or anti- fraternity, but is pro-student. Robbins has really balanced the good and bad of the fraternal landscape by focusing on two very different chapters. - The narrative was both familiar and eye-opening. Jake reflecting on not getting a bid from his dad’s fraternity and wondering how he was judged unworthy through conversations over the course of an hour hit home. So did thoughts about the tier systems and the damaging role they play- perpetuated both by the community and those outside it. Robbins has done a lot of research and her ruminations on masculinity are masterful. - I wish that Robbins had disguised the identity of the chapters better in order to protect her subjects. This time she didn’t include the names of the fraternities when she told their secrets, but you can easily Google them and find out. And she made a key mistake with providing info about one of her campuses that reveals which it is to anyone who knows the industry. - Alexandra Robbins has created a well-balanced, insightful, and emotional look into college men and fraternities- I only wish she had given college women and sororities the same treatment 15 years ago.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mountain Girl

    I attended a university in California way back in the 80's, where the Greek System was not a big part of campus life. I would almost go so far as to say those who joined Fraternities/Sororities were mildly scorned and judged to be drunks, insecure, and unable to make friends "on their own." My boyfriend attended a different university in California way back in the 80's, where the Greek System was HUGE and EVERYONE participated. He became a member of a "high tier" fraternity on his campus, and to I attended a university in California way back in the 80's, where the Greek System was not a big part of campus life. I would almost go so far as to say those who joined Fraternities/Sororities were mildly scorned and judged to be drunks, insecure, and unable to make friends "on their own." My boyfriend attended a different university in California way back in the 80's, where the Greek System was HUGE and EVERYONE participated. He became a member of a "high tier" fraternity on his campus, and to this day (30 years later) he is still a very active alum with his fraternity. He remains incredibly close with his Brothers, many of whom I know and absolutely adore. They are charming, kind, considerate, supportive, compassionate adult men (all in their 50's now). I watch them interact with each other and see the bond and friendship they have maintained despite distance and busy lives. I can honestly say that I envy it. I am so grateful he has a close knit collection of male friends he can talk to because I know that level of intimacy can be hard for men to cultivate. Heck, it can be hard for women to cultivate too! Ms. Robbins did a great job of examining Fraternity life from all angles--the good and the bad. The hazing incidents were difficult to read, the "forced" drinking truly made my stomach churn, but the active striving to better themselves was inspiring. We hear terrible things about Fraternities on the news and the deaths from hazing are absolutely tragic. We need to hear more about the good things because there are SO MANY good things these young men and women do.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Robbins has an incredible knack for turning research notes into compelling personal narratives. In this book, she presents two very different ways of being in a fraternity: a pledge who rushes right at the beginning of his freshman year and gets swept up in a status-obsessed, aggressive, stereotypical frat, and a young president who navigates challenges with the help of his gentlemanly, nurturing, brotherly chapter. As a journalist, Robbins takes a very light hand with editorial opinion, refusing Robbins has an incredible knack for turning research notes into compelling personal narratives. In this book, she presents two very different ways of being in a fraternity: a pledge who rushes right at the beginning of his freshman year and gets swept up in a status-obsessed, aggressive, stereotypical frat, and a young president who navigates challenges with the help of his gentlemanly, nurturing, brotherly chapter. As a journalist, Robbins takes a very light hand with editorial opinion, refusing to vilify fraternities and reserving her advice for the end of the book. Personally, I will say that I would happily wave a magic wand to shut down every single chapter and require the earnest ones to prove themselves before reinstating. However, I recognize one of her major insights: that fraternities flourish in American colleges because of the intense emotional repression that toxic masculinity imposes on teenage boys. At a point in their lives when they desperately want guidance, and in a culture that tells them that they're weak for wanting to seek it out in the first place, it makes sense that a lot of college guys will pursue brotherhood at great cost. My only grievance is that some of the descriptions of hazing sound a little too forgiving to me. I hope it will be clear to the reader that forced sleep deprivation and yelling in someone's face are destructive behaviors, even if Jake (our protagonist pledge) doesn't seem to realize it, but I worry that sticking with the word hazing softens the fact that it's really, truly abusive.

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