American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860-1970

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9781551522562: American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860-1970
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The "American hunk" is a cultural icon: the image of the chiseled, well-built male body has been promoted and exploited for commercial use for over 125 years, whether in movies, magazines, advertisements, or on consumer products, not only in America but throughout the world.

American Hunks is a fascinating collection of images (many in full color) depicting the muscular American male as documented in popular culture from 1860 to 1970. The book, divided into specific historic eras, includes such personalities as bodybuilder Charles Atlas; pioneer weightlifter Eugene Sandow; movie stars like Steve "Hercules" Reeves and Johnny "Tarzan" Weismuller; and publications such as the 1920s-era magazine Physical Culture and the 1950s-era comic book Mr. Muscles. It also touches on the use of masculine, homoerotic imagery to sell political and military might (including American recruitment posters and Nazi propaganda from the 1936 Olympics), and how companies have used buff, near-naked men to sell products from laundry detergent to sacks of flour since the 1920s. The introduction by David L. Chapman offers insightful information on individual images, while the essay by Brett Josef Grubisic places the work in its proper historical context.

David L. Chapman has written many books on male photography and bodybuilding, including Comin' at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3-D Photographs of Denny Denfield.

Brett Josef Grubisic is author of the novel The Age of Cities and editor of Contra/Diction: New Queer Fiction.

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About the Author:

David L. Chapman is the author of 11 previous books, including Comin? at Ya!: The 3-D Photographs of Denny L. Denfield (Arsenal 2007) and Adonis: The Male Physique Pin-up. He also writes for various bodybuilding magazines. He lives in Seattle. Brett Josef Grubisic is the author of the novel The Age of Cities (Arsenal, 2006) and the editor of Contra/Diction: New Queer Male Fiction (Arsenal, 1998)and co-editor (with Carellin Brooks) of Carnal Nation: Brave New Sex Fictions (Arsenal, 2000). He teaches English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Review:

Starting with the post-Civil War health craze that made names like Graham (of the cracker), Post and Kellogg (they, of cereal) household names, just the first few daguerrotypes of muscle men is worth the price of this book alone. American Hunks is encyclopedic in its accommodation of what society---and, not incidentally, the burgeoning consumer culture---considered hot.
EDGE Publications (Boston, Chicago, etc.) (EDGE Publications 2009-10-01)

A wonderful collection of photographs, spanning a bit more than a century from 1860 to the early 1970s.
Speak Its Name (blog) (Speak Its Name 2009-11-13)

Pictures of legendary physiques from original superstar hunk Eugen Sandow to Charles Atlas to Arnold Schwarzenegger appear, well produced and annotated.... What might have been a wink-wink, nudge-nudge volume is instead vital Americana.
Booklist (Booklist 2009-11-24)

A beautifully produced volume.... American Hunks is an important contribution to the underdeveloped social history of the visual treatment of the well-built male body as documented in drawings and photography since the middle of the 19th century.
Wisconsin Gazette (Wisconsin Gazette 2009-11-26)

Chapman's pithy descriptions provide fine context, and Grubisic's well-sourced preface provides intellectual heft to accompany the physical bulk.
—Richard Labonte, Book Marks (Book Marks 2009-12-02)

A delightfully eclectic compilation of historical man pix.... The photos and drawings, as selected and captioned by David L. Chapman, beautifully capture the erotic codes and cultural trajectory of the posed and naked male though the decades.
Xtra! (Xtra! 2009-12-03)

Co-au­thors David L. Chap­man and Brett Josef Grubisic incisively address the use of homoerotic imagery in the service of political and military propaganda, grounding the stunning, often full-color re­productions in a historical context. And did we mention the visuals are smokin’?
Just Out (Portland, OR) (Just Out 2009-12-12)

American Hunks is far more than just a photo book; it explores the culture of ideal masculinity as far back as the Industrial Revolution.... [The book] is presented in a way which is frankly fascinating. The book feels like a trip to a museum in itself, and Chapman serves as the colorful tour guide. Well written and well annotated, this book is, hands-down, the best place to start for anyone who's curious about the subject matter.
Seattle Gay News (Seattle Gay News 2010-02-01)

The excellent American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture explores the “long and gradual striptease” of the chiseled, well-built American male as he evolved into a cultural icon far more ubiquitous than many people would care to admit.
Outsmart Magazine (Houston) (Outsmart 2010-01-18)

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