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The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities Hardcover – Mar 1 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 412 pages
  • Publisher: Univ of North Carolina Pr (March 1 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807832537
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807832530
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.3 x 3.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,172,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Stunning. . . one of the finest 'masculinity histories.' . . . This well written, carefully argued, and (in the conclusion) deftly polemical book is an excellent example of what modern historiography can achieve. It should be required reading for campus administrators, if not the parents of prospective fraternity members, and will in addition be of use to any American Studies scholar interested in gender, masculinity studies, social history, institutional history, literary and cultural studies.--"American Studies"

From the Inside Flap

Tracing the history of white college fraternities in America from their days in antebellum all-male schools to modern-day college campus, Syrett reveals how fraternity brothers have defined masculinity over the course of their 180-year history. Based on extensive research at 12 different schools and analyzing 20 national fraternities, this book explores many factors--such as class, religiosity, race, sexuality, athleticism, intelligence, and recklessness--that have contributed to versions of fraternal masculinity at different times. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa197d7c8) out of 5 stars 5 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa277f0b4) out of 5 stars Enlightening Treatment of a Little-Known History May 6 2009
By P. Kranz - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has done a superb job of dealing with the little-known history of American fraternities, especially the less-edifying aspects of that history. The book is exceedingly well-researched and well-written. Especially interesting is the author's description of the all-white Protestant fraternity and the nature of the masculinity it promoted.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa18da5a0) out of 5 stars Fascinating and well-researched! Feb. 28 2009
By N. Schwartzman - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"The Company He Keeps" is a fascinating book about an under-explored topic- the history of white college fraternities. The author, Nick Syrett, has a vivid writing style and presents his in-depth research in a compelling, entertaining voice. This is a must read for those interested in group behavior, gender relations through a specific historical framework and the embedded role of fraternities in American culture.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa19752a0) out of 5 stars Excellent scholarship Dec 8 2009
By Patrick Dilley, Ph.D. - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great historical and cultural analysis. I assign this book in my Gender in Higher Education course, and use it as a supplementary reading in my Masculinity in the United States course.
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1dda894) out of 5 stars Too Focused on Southern White Culture June 21 2014
By FightingScot82 - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Obviously if you focus on fraternity men at southern universities such as Duke, University of North Carolina, and University of MIssissippi in the 19th century, you're going to run into issues of race, class, and privilege. In 2013, Ole Miss is still challenged by those things. There are some great stories in here to better understand the reasoning behind the rapid spread of college fraternal groups in the 19th century, but I feel Mr. Syrett does a disservice by focusing on a limited number of institutions.

I also believe the byline of "A History of White College Fraternities" unnecessarily brings race to the forefront of his book. Racial attitudes and segregation practices were largely reflective of social culture of the time. I disagree with his assertion that fraternities spread as a way to keep non-whites, Catholics, homosexuals, etc. among the lower rungs of the campus culture. Maybe at the southern universities he focused on, but that was hardly the case as even he showcases African American members of college fraternities before 1900.
3 of 22 people found the following review helpful
By GK - Published on
Poorly rationalized and biased towards what he wants to believe. Research is spread thin due to the depth and breadth of the material he attempted to cover and thus preconceived opinions become forced facts. Pass on this one.