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US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Manby Charlie Leduff
Synopses & Reviews
Heir to Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Charlie LeDuff scours the country, tossing back whiskey with the seedy, the dreamy, and the strange in search of the soul of the American male.
No one knows life's underbelly better than New York Times reporter Charlie LeDuff. Christened the bibulous scribe of the working class by his peers, he's made a career chronicling, with dead-on feel for character and idiom, the gritty lives of the drifters, the forgotten, and the strange — people washed up and washed out on alcohol, broken dreams, lifetimes of hard living. Willing to follow his subjects where no respectable white-collared man would dare go, he is clearly — and admittedly — a writer not for people who have doormen, but for doormen. And while his wholly original coverage of this beat has brought him acclaim as a journalist, it has also made him something of a working-class hero.
Who better, then, to examine what it means to be a man in modern-day America? US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man is LeDuff's equally intoxicated and intoxicating journey across the country in search of the heart and soul of today's American male. With characteristic audacity, compassion, and humor, he takes part in a Bacchanalian Burning Man festival in Nevada, clad in a Mohawk and little else; trains with the sadhearted Russian clown of a traveling circus; leads a cavalry charge down the Little Bighorn River with war reenactors; joins a C-level professional football team; infiltrates a West Oakland bike gang that holds fight parties; travels with Appalachian snake handlers and tent revivalists; and covers a cowboy love story at a gay rodeo (Not like themovie. Life is never like the movies. Life is messy and complicated and self-loathing and funny). At each juncture LeDuff faithfully records their religion and sins and racism, their freaks and misfits, their search for the American dream, and the sweetness they find in living it out, if only for a moment.
"Whether fighting the biggest guy at an Oakland biker club, talking race with a semipro Texas football team or riding shotgun with Detroit homicide, LeDuff's gonzo exploits in this book are nothing short of inspired. The New York Times reporter is a big-game hunter, with plenty of ability to sniff out, ensnare and lovingly stuff and mount his subjects. Less an analytic discourse than an 'American travelogue,' the book searches out 'the angry forgotten middling America' — rendering a complex array of American wildlife, from gay rodeo star wannabes to Little Big Horn re-enactors. Though LeDuff's writing often comes off as aggressive and unfiltered, there are many moments when it feels self-consciously stylized, eclipsing an otherwise keen eye for detail. Authenticity surfaces in astute observations ('self-expression is dangerous when too much expression is mixed with too little sense of self'). But LeDuff's quest for edginess sometimes overwhelms his insights, through overuse of words like 'cheap' ('cheap booze,' 'cheap-looking girl,' 'cheap chromium tanning salons'). His pronouncements on American life (e.g., 'meaning is invented in America through new sink faucets and car waxes and aluminum siding in pastel colors') can also miss the mark. Like the hard-luck stories he chronicles, the book is angry, touching, entertaining and flawed — a prologue, one hopes, to greater things down the road." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mr. LeDuff has...more good one-liners than a week's worth of machine-tooled sitcoms." New York Times
"This is a hard-hitting, profane, humorous, gritty, difficult, insightful, and definitely satisfying book." Library Journal
"In the gonzo manner of Hunter Thompson, LeDuff lets himself become the story: He rides a bull; he fights a huge biker and loses....Revealing, raw-edged rants leavened by hangover humor." Kirkus Reviews
From the New York Times bestselling author of Detroit: An American Autopsy
A fearless, clear eyed companion into parts of America that rarely see print.”—Entertainment Weekly
Charlie LeDuff has made a career out of his extraordinary ability to capture the spirit of the people and places he profiles. US Guys is his odyssey in search of the truth behind the American man, from a jaded homicide detective in Detroit to a two-bit jockey at a racetrack in Miami to a pair of lovers at a gay rodeo. With audacity, humor, and no small amount of physical pain, he captures a broad diversity of voices as they wrestle with an America they love but increasingly fail to understand.
About the Author
Charlie LeDuff contributed to the 2001 Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times series "How Race is Lived in America" and has also received a Meyer Berger Award for distinguished writing about New York City. He has been a staff reporter at the New York Times since 1999 and is now a member of the Los Angeles bureau. During the war in Iraq, LeDuff was an embedded Times correspondent reporting from Kuwait and Iraq and covered events such as the release of U.S. POWs.
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