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A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
A Los Angeles Times Prize Finalist
An Edgar Award Finalist
Glen Ridge, New Jersey--a town most people would call perfect: a town proud of its prosperity and community ties, a town most proud of its high school athletes who served as community heroes. But in March of 1989, four of the town's top athletes--the most popular boys in school, all from respectable families--raped a retarded classmate, a girl they had known since childhood. In the courtroom drama and a wave of media attention that followed, Glen Ridge was stripped of its illusions and left with questions most residents were unwilling to face: How could parents and teachers have ignored the boys' long history of destructive and disruptive behavior that foreshadowed the rape? What kind of community could raise boys who regularly abused their female classmates? What went wrong?
Lefkowitz's sweeping narrative, informed by more than two hundred interviews and six years of research, recreates a hidden adolescent world that parents didn't--or wouldn't see: a high school dominated by a band of predatory athletes, a teenage culture in which girls were frequently abused and humiliated at sybaritic and destructive parties, and a town that embraced its celebrity athletes, despite the havoc they created, as "our guys."
But Our Guys is not just a picture of one suburb. Lefkowitz finds that the unqualified adulation athletes received in Glen Ridge is echoed in communities throughout the nation. Glen Ridge is not an aberration: the clash of cultures and values that divided Glen Ridge, he writes, still divides the country.
PRAISE FOR Our Guys:
“Riveting. . . . In a way that makes for compulsive reading, Lefkowitz has exposed the substrata of evil in a seemingly idyllic town. Most troubling of all, you come away with the realization that what happened in Glen Ridge could happen anywhere.”
—Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action
“In this gripping book, Lefkowitz takes one single event—the brutal sexual assault on a slightly retarded young woman by several high profile high school athletes in suburban New Jersey—and brings his readers face to face with the smug arrogance of predatory male sexual entitlement. And he does it not with a sweeping analysis but with a novelists's eye for precise detail, a tightly wound tale, elegantly told.”
—Michael Kimmel, author of Manhood in America: A Cultural History
"In the best tradition of social inquisitors, like the late great J. Anthony Lucas, Lefkowitz peels away the glossy surface of this not-so-unusual American suburb. What he finds at the heart of Glen Ridge is a culture in which women learn early that submission is the price of acceptance, and where male achievement, especially athletic achievement, is respected, as one resident puts it, ‘almost to the point of pathology.’ Our Guys deals with grim material. . . . Just be sure that if you do read Our Guys, you're near a beach or a park—some wide-open space. You’re going to need plenty of room to walk off your anger.”
—Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s "Fresh Air”
“Lefkowitz has written a compelling account. . . . He examines a part of American culture that appears to condone wildness and aggression in its young males and passive servitude in the females. Our Guys is an insightful work that could be as fundamentally important, and as widely read, as Mary Pipher’s Reviving Ophelia. Highly recommended.”
—Eric Robbins, Booklist
“Lefkowitz’s extraordinary chronicle . . . is an important book, one that should be read by parents and educator’s alike. . . . It’s possible to believe that there is not a whole new batch of ‘our guys’ graduating from high school this year all across America.”
—New York Times Book Review, front page