June 20, 2007
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
1.34 Inches (US)
1.65 Pounds (US)
$65.00 USD, £48.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
August 10, 2012
9.25 Inches (US)
6.13 Inches (US)
1.09 Inches (US)
1.34 Pounds (US)
$38.00 USD, £28.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference

Brutes in Suits

Male Sensibility in America, 1890–1920

Are men truly predisposed to violence and aggression? Is it the biological fate of males to struggle for domination over women and vie against one another endlessly?

These and related queries have long vexed philosophers, social scientists, and other students of human behavior. In Brutes in Suits, historian John Pettegrew examines theoretical writings and cultural traditions in the United States to find that, Darwinian arguments to the contrary, masculine aggression can be interpreted as a modern strategy for taking power. Drawing ideas from varied and at times seemingly contradictory sources, Pettegrew argues that traditionally held beliefs about masculinity developed largely through language and cultural habit—and that these same tools can be employed to break through the myth that brutishness is an inherently male trait.

A major re-synthesis of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century manhood, Brutes in Suits develops ambitious lines of research into the social science of sexual difference and professional history’s celebration of rugged individualism; the hunting-and-killing genre of popular men’s literature; that master text of hypermasculinity: college football; military culture, war making, and finding pleasure in killing; and patriarchy, sexual jealousy, and the law. This timely assessment of the evolution of masculine culture will be welcomed and debated by social and intellectual historians for years to come.

About the Author

John Pettegrew is an associate professor of history and director of the American Studies Program at Lehigh University and coeditor of the three-volume Public Women, Public Words: A Documentary History of American Feminism.


Pettegrew... casts a challenge against conventionally accepted Darwinian notions of brutishness as an essential and natural male trait. He argues that male dominance and aggression are not predestined by instinct, but culturally and ideologically constructed, desired, and performed through time... This book contributes to intellectual and cultural history on gender and manhood.

- Choice

Pettegrew's book remains rigorous and passionate in its narration of the historic appeal as well as the immediate dangers of de-evolutionary masculinity.

- Jennifer Travis - American Historical Review

Ambitious study... valuable in exploring the vast cultural production of masculine instinct as a fact of life.

- Woody Register - Labor History

To Pettegrew's great credit, his study looks both forward and back: at the way masculinity was naturalized as aggressive in turn-of-the-century society; and, perhaps more importantly, at the extent to which modern-day historians, scientists, and ordinary citizens deploy discourses of evolutionary psychology, sociobiology, and psychology in a misplaced effort to read gender as the offspring of biology and society.

- Martin A. Berger - Journal of American History

Will be of interest to scholars of cultures of violence and middle-American masculinity. He offers a solid history of the naturalizing revelry of men in the violence they do.

- Neal King - American Journal of Sociology

It will spark debate within the field for its bold explanation of why modern men feel as though violence is both their burden and right.

- Ryan Anderson - H-SHGAPE, H-Net Reviews

[A] vivid, massively researched history of 'hyper-masculine' sensibility at the turn of the twentieth century... An instructive and provocative view of men’s dark side.

- Peter Filene - Men and Masculinities

This fascinating and ambitious study explores how an aggressive 'de-evolutionary' model of masculinity was woven into a broad range of American institutions... Pettegrew brings together feminist theory, 'an anthropological ironist perspective' and a wealth of gender studies scholarship to investigate the development of a pervasive mindset of brutish masculinity within a rich selection of archival and popular cultural materials... This well-researched and engaging volume will certainly enrich the ever-growing field of men's studies.

- Christina Jarvis - Gender and History


This lively, well-written exploration of the 'de-evolutionary' turn in the dominant model of masculinity in the United States since the mid-nineteenth century is smart, compelling, and often tartly funny.

- Toby L. Ditz, Johns Hopkins University
Johns Hopkins University Press
Gender Relations in the American Experience
From 17

9780801886034 : brutes-in-suits-pettegrew
424 Pages
$65.00 USD
9781421407647 : brutes-in-suits-pettegrew
Paperback / softback
424 Pages
$38.00 USD

Other Titles by John Pettegrew

Light It Up

John Pettegrew
Oct 2015 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$34.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles from Gender Relations in the American Experience

Jolly Fellows

Richard Stott
Aug 2009 - The Johns Hopkins University Press
$60.00 USD - Electronic book text

Horse Trading in the Age of Cars

Steven M. Gelber
Oct 2008 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.00 USD - Hardback
$54.00 USD - Electronic book text

Right Stuff, Wrong Sex

Margaret A. Weitekamp
Oct 2005 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$29.00 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles in HISTORY / United States / General

Challenging History

edited by Leah Worthington, Rachel Clare Donaldson, John W. White
Jul 2021 - University of South Carolina Press
$39.99 USD - Hardback
$39.99 USD - Electronic book text

The Long Civil War

edited by John David Smith, Ph.D., Raymond Arsenault, with contributions byMichael J. Birkner, Paul A. Cimbala, Stanley Harrold, James R. Hedtke, James Oliver Horton, Lois E. Horton, Daniel Kilbride, Diane Miller Sommerville, Stephen J....
Jul 2021 - University Press of Kentucky
$45.00 USD - Hardback
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text
$45.00 USD - Electronic book text

The Fabric of Empire

Danielle C. Skeehan
Dec 2020 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$54.95 USD - Hardback
$54.95 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in History of the Americas

The Black President

Claude A. Clegg III
Oct 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$34.95 USD - Hardback
$34.95 USD - Electronic book text

America's Original Sin

John Rhodehamel
Sep 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$27.95 USD - Hardback
$27.95 USD - Electronic book text


William D. Lopez - new foreword by former US Secretary Julián Castro
Aug 2021 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$22.95 USD - Paperback / softback