US Guys: The True and Twisted Mind of the American Man

Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Todd Gitlin
Mr. LeDuff has some Damon Runyon in him, some Raymond Chandler, and more good one-liners than a week’s worth of machine-tooled sitcoms.
— The New York Times
Entertainment Weekly
A fearless, clear-eyed companion into parts of America that rarely see print.
The New York Times
Mr. LeDuff has a distinct style for committing what the sociologist C. Wright Mills said was James Agee's forte: sociological poetry. . . . [He] has some Damon Runyon in him, some Raymond Chandler, and more good one-liners than a week's worth of machine-tooled sitcoms.
Publishers Weekly
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. (Feb. 5) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A Pulitzer Prize winner from the New York Times, LeDuff visits snake handlers, Little Big Horn reenactors, bike gangs, and the Burning Man festival (in full mohawk) to get a sense of what makes men in America tick. With a national tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Slouching through America to piece together remnants of the American male's soul. New York Times reporter LeDuff insinuates himself into other people's bad deals and power trips. This mostly happens on society's fringes, the strip-mall edges of town and forgotten pockets of economic blight where he seems most comfortable. LeDuff is quite capable of revealing human dignity among the ruins, but this does not necessarily drive his work. He excels at framing losers, phonies and various permutations of exploited/exploiter, along with the dreck, drugs and alcohol that tend to grease these folks' slides. His aim was to "seek out the American man at a profound time of war and debt and extravagance and sexual dysfunction and digitization and globalization and so many other -ations that people . . . no longer understand what it is to be an American." The venues range from a gay rodeo and a bare-knuckle fight club in Oakland to a Pentecostal church in Appalachia whose worshippers handle snakes to the seamy enclaves of New York City, where he follows hopeful young male models. In the gonzo manner of Hunter Thompson, LeDuff lets himself become the story: He rides a bull; he fights a huge biker and loses; he tries to become this year's "IT BOY. Face on a Times Square billboard, on the back of a magazine, on the downside of an uptown bus." Pat conclusions tend to support his dark visions of injustice, apathy and economic stagnation permeating the land: "No jobs and a mountain of debt left to us by the Baby Boomers. You can't go to a factory any more and make a good life."Revealing, raw-edged rants leavened by hangover humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143113065
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 355,310
  • Product dimensions: 5.63 (w) x 8.43 (h) x 0.58 (d)

Meet the Author

Charlie LeDuff

CHARLIE LEDUFF was a staff writer at the New York Times and a reporter at the Detroit News, and is now a television journalist for Detroit’s Fox 2 News. He contributed to a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times series and has received a Meyer Berger Award for distinguished writing about New York City. He is the author of Work and Other Sins, US Guys, and the New York Times bestselling Detroit: An American Autopsy. LeDuff lives with his wife and daughter on the edge of the Detroit city limits.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    I picked this book up in the store on a whim.  I was hooked from

    I picked this book up in the store on a whim.  I was hooked from the first chapter.  LeDuff's ability to bring a visceral component to the stories he tells is nothing short of amazing.  Each step of the way you feel his subject's joy and sorrows.  The stories themselves are enthralling and diverse.  They create a cross-section of American life that can't be expressed any other way.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a great read that spends it's time focusing on the people rather than pontificating about theory.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 25, 2009

    DISAPPOINTING!

    Wow, I don't know who this author dislikes more, women (see the Preface for just ONE example) or other guys! I thought it was going to be interviews with a good cross-section of American males from a lot of different walks of life; but with the exception of the chapter on the Detroit cop, the book is a collection of interviews with strange and mostly embittered men going nowhere done by an author who seems pretty bitter himself.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

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