Why Young Men

Why Young Men

Rage, Race and the Crisis of Identity

Book - 2018
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Longlisted for the Toronto Book Award

The day after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, twenty-eight-year-old Canadian Jamil Jivani opened the newspaper to find that the men responsible were familiar to him. He didn’t know them, but the communities they grew up in and the challenges they faced mirrored the circumstances of his own life. Jivani travelled to Belgium in February 2016 to better understand the roots of jihadi radicalization. Less than two months later, Brussels fell victim to a terrorist attack carried out by young men who lived in the same neighbourhood as him.

Jivani was raised in a mostly immigrant community in Toronto that faced significant problems with integration. Having grown up with a largely absent father, he knows what it is to watch a man’s future influenced by gangster culture or radical ideologies associated with Islam. Jivani found himself at a crossroads: he could follow the kind of life we hear about too often in the media, or he could choose a safe, prosperous future. He opted for the latter, attending Yale and becoming a lawyer, a professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and a powerful speaker for the disenfranchised.

Why Young Men is not a memoir but a book of ideas that pursues a positive path and offers a counterintuitive, often provocative argument for a sea change in the way we look at young men, and for how they see themselves.

Publisher: Toronto, Ontario :, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd,, 2018
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9781443453196
Branch Call Number: 305.568 JIV
Characteristics: 255 pages ;,24 cm


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May 12, 2018

The Canadian author of this new book had a mission: explore "why" young men turn to violence. He might have started with the premise, how MANY young men actually turn to violence, but, he has difficulty separating his own experience from his narrative. Understandable: he came close to a (short) life of violence, too. There's been a significant amount of media attention for young (visible-minority immigrant) Jamil Jivani. That's understandable, too, in that he took another path, attending three universities including Yale. How'd he do that, when he was so obviously headed for either prison or an early death? Luck? A rich mentor? Tenacity? Fate? Still don't know.

This is a bad book. It fails as a memoir. It fails as a well-written, accessible examination of the issue was meant to explore--I think. Maybe Jivani's book was written to help him work through his own life. Hope he got some closure. Or something.

Jivani takes his research findings at face value: quotes them, accepts them as truth and just...moves on to the next bald "fact" as any former public school illiterate might. No "Yes, but", no dissenting opinions or viewpoints, no discussion. Some of the stuff--Black Like Me; feminist issues--has little to do with men, or violence either. What's it doing here? Worse, some of his findings are easily contradicted. When I got suspicious (more women than men enrolled at universities, today, for example) I spent a few minutes on the internet, and found it's easy to offer dissenting views and moreover, decent explanations (In this case, it's NOT because men choose violence, or have given up in the face of feminism, nor, are fewer men enrolling in university. Quite the opposite, in fact.)

Readers can do better. Try another new book on a similar subject, Boys, What it Means to Become A Man, by Rachel Giese.

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