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To find out, Ray Raphael conducted in-depth interviews with one hundred American males ranging from a Mr. America body-building to a practitioner of witchcraft, from a “right stuff” fighter pilot to a draft dodger, from a self-proclaimed Don Juan to a “superdad.” The Men from the Boys is the first and only book-length study of contemporary simulations of classical male initiations.
The results of this study are unsettling. Initiations today function more as tests to determine who can make the grade than as educational tools that encourage the development of all young men. In the absence of inclusive rituals, Raphael’s subjects struggle to overcome doubts as they negotiate their own paths to maturity. Their personal tales, told with dramatic and emotional intensity, speak to all American males who find themselves torn between a unisex modernity and more archaic notions of masculinity.