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FRATERNITY by Alexandra Robbins


An Inside Look at a Year of College Boys Becoming Men

by Alexandra Robbins

Pub Date: Jan. 22nd, 2019
ISBN: 978-1-101-98672-1
Publisher: Dutton

The author of Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities (2004) returns to campus to continue to sift through the realities and misconceptions of Greek life.

In this natural follow-up toPledged, investigative reporter and public speaker Robbins (The Nurses: A Year of Secrets, Drama, and Miracles with the Heroes of the Hospital, 2015, etc.) turns her attention to the often problematic, scandalized, and controversial fraternal brotherhoods. Hoping to demystify the negative public images these associations have historically generated, the author interviewed scores of young men both currently and formerly involved in Greek chapters. Through their experiences, Robbins explores the countless stereotypical complications of these groups. She presents often compelling profiles of men navigating the processes and pressures of rushing, pledging, and troubleshooting the hypermasculine fraternity culture and the rigid guidelines of collegiate social engagement. Refreshingly, the author never sugarcoats the intensive pledging process and addresses the prevalence of widespread racism, female objectification, and sexual assault within chapters all across the country. The book presents the experiences of men like Jake, a searching, introverted, socially timid freshman who “craved the bonds of a brotherhood”; Oliver, a chapter president eager to hone his leadership talents; and numerous other voices of those who pledged allegiance to their respective frat houses, with mixed results. Robbins astutely examines the stigma of hazing rituals, impulsive and stress-driven drinking patterns, and rigidly enforced house loyalties. Conversely, she highlights the more positive (and less-recognized) bonding and brotherhood benefits of fraternity participation and the prioritized importance of sorority relations. She also points out fraternal chapters that welcome more diverse members, including LGBTQ pledges. Though the narrative presents little that will be viewed as new or illuminating for any adult reader who attended college, much of the material will be useful and informative for college-prep students and their parents (a final section provides advice for both groups).

Real-life perspectives on the immersive, unifying, and chancy culture of fraternities.