In this nonfiction debut, New Jerseyite and former frat brother Lohse blows the whistle on the distasteful hazing practices he witnessed during his tumultuous time at prestigious Ivy League institution Dartmouth College.
The author comes off like your average middle-class, all-American lad, with good grades and a fair amount of potential in life after leading his high school’s Model United Nations and graduating with honors. Even so, to live the Ivy League dream, he was reduced to getting his Dartmouth-educated grandfather to help him in his quest to be “reconsidered” by the admissions officers. Being insecure and desperate for acceptance, Lohse figured the easiest thing to do would be to join the most notorious fraternity on campus. Little did he know that his stint as a Sigma Alpha Epsilon pledge would nearly ruin his life. The author soon found himself in a socially poisonous environment in which he was forced to guzzle vinegar, Mad Dog 20/20 and even cups of urine. Other mandatory activities in this phony ritualistic ascent to brotherhood included wading in a pool of human excrement, games of blackout-drunk beer pong and even the chance to snort cocaine while listening to Eric Clapton’s song about cocaine. Eventually, his flirtation with the drug got him in trouble with the cops. Lohse’s writing is passable but also peppered with annoying frat slang (he frequently employs the term “boot” as a verb meaning “to vomit”) and awkward metaphors and similes (“Summer was long gone, though—it had faded out like washed out salmon pink shorts”). The author’s story might be more sympathetic had he not eventually decided to haze pledges himself before ratting on his “bros” to Rolling Stone.
A readable exposé that feels like an article-length topic overstretched into a book.