Authored Books

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Unconventional Combat: Intersectional Action in the Veterans’ Peace Movement Oxford University Press, 2021.

“Michael Messner has drawn back the curtain both on today’s US military’s misogynist and racialized culture and on older white male veteran peace activists’ difficulty in grasping its implications for them. I’ll be thinking about this book for a long time.”
Cynthia Enloe, author of “Nimo’s War, Emma’s War: Making Feminist Sense of the Iraq War

“Michael Messner does a beautiful job of thinking deeply about the interconnectedness of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and social class as they affect the standpoint and experiences of young activists. His book offers something really substantial to the study of intersectionality and social movements…a wonderful contribution.”
Mignon Moore, President, Sociologists for Women in Society, and Professor of Sociology, Barnard College & Columbia University

“A groundbreaking analysis of veterans and the peace movement. Told through compelling narratives and an intersectional lens, this is an important book for anyone interested in the complications of serving in the military and then coming to seek an end to war.”
Jo Reger, Professor of Sociology, Oakland University

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Guys Like Me: Five Wars, Five Veterans for Peace Rutgers University Press, 2019.

“A deeply personal, very human book. Michael Messner has brought on stage some eloquent survivors whom our politicians should listen to before they dare even consider sending young men and women out to fight yet again.”
Adam Hochschild, author of To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918

“Michael Messner delivers an eloquent, passionate, and moving account of how war has sometimes moved veterans towards peace.”
Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer

“There is a revelation on every page of Guys Like Me. A truly humane book.”
Cynthia Enloe, author of The Big Push:  Exposing and Challenging Persistent Patriarchy

“Michael Messner is our new Studs Terkel.  Essential reading for those seeking to understand military veterans.”
Hugh Gusterson, author of Drone: Remote Control Warfare

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No slam dunk: Gender, sport, and the unevenness of social change (with Cheryl Cooky). Rutgers University Press (2018).

Sport is an essential window for understanding what unites and divides us. It shapes our world. No Slam Dunk is essential: a decoder ring for understanding issues of gender and sexuality with the Rosetta Stone that is the games we play.”
Dave Zirin, sports editor, The Nation

“No Slam Dunk is an invaluable, highly accessible resource and a fantastic addition to the sport and gender literature. Cooky and Messner provide a volume that is both entertaining and engaging.”
Jeffrey Montez de Oca, author of Discipline and Indulgence: College Football, Media, and the American Way of Life

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Learn more about
Some Men

Some men: Feminist allies and the movement to end violence against women (with Max A. Greenberg & Tal Peretz). Oxford University Press (2015).

Winner of 2016 Distinguished Scholarship Award from the Pacific Sociological Association.

In the last four decades or so, there has grown up a diverse activist community of men who understand that feminism is their movement, too—not only because they support daughters, wives, mothers and co-workers, but because they see violence against females as a normalization of all violence, and a powerful way of limiting men’s full humanity, too. If you want to meet them, learn more and hope more, you’ll find them in the pages of Some Men, a practical, readable, inspiring guide to a crucial, growing, yet rarely reported American movement.
–Gloria Steinem

Some Men is a splendid book [that] tells in depth the story of those American men who have worked to end rape, domestic violence, and other forms of men’s violence against women. Tracing the complex relations with changing feminism, and the intense debates, failures and successes of three generations of activist men, this is vividly-written contemporary history from which everyone concerned with gender justice can learn.
–Raewyn Connell

Some Men is sure to stir the hearts of anyone championing a world where men denounce violence against women and advocate for the liberation of men.
–Rob Okun

In this moving book, the authors provide insight into the hearts and minds of men who took seriously the feminist call by making lifetime commitments as allies in the movement to end violence against women. A stellar book that is carefully grounded in the history of the feminist and anti-violence movements, it is a must-read not only for students and scholars…but also for policy-makers and activists working toward ending gender-based violence.
–Verta Taylor

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King of the wild suburb: A memoir of fathers, sons and guns. Austin, TX: Plain View Press (2011).

Michael Messner humanely explores the evolving, often confusing dynamics of masculinities between three generations of boys and men.
–Cynthia Enloe

In his closely observed memoir, noted Gender Studies scholar Michael Messner opens up the affective terrain between fathers and sons, and in the process deepens and complicates our understanding of masculinity.
–Alice Echols

King of the Wild Suburb helps us understand how masculinity has changed, albeit still precariously, making it possible to maintain a fidelity to one’s past while passing on to the next generation a freedom to explore new ways to be a man.
–Jan E. Dizard

What makes this book so moving and thoughtful are the connections between fathers and sons that Messner both ponders and experiences even as he defines a new culture of masculinity for himself and his own sons. Highly recommended.
–Literary Mama

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It’s all for the kids: Gender, families and youth sports. Berkeley: University of California Press (2009).

In this amazing book, Messner . . . provides the reader with fascinating insights into the gendered nature of youth sports. . . . Anyone interested in gender studies or sport, especially sport sociology, will appreciate this heartfelt, perceptive, and thoroughly enjoyable study. . . . Recommended.

“This book is a treat.”
—Howard P. Chudacoff American Studies Journal

Messner’s engaging writing style draws the reader into the fine details of what he observes.
—Men & Masculinities

[Messner’s] wide-ranging book examines every aspect of this culture.

As an eminent sociologist of gender and sports, the son of a high school coach, and a parent, Michael Messner is uniquely positioned to illuminate the persistent and changing gender dynamics of parent-organized youth sports. The result, as predicted, is a perceptive, vividly detailed, and highly readable book.
—Barrie Thorne

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Out of play: Critical essays on gender and sport. State University of New York Press (2007).

Awarded the 2008 Choice Outstanding Academic Title, American Library Association.

This book provides a valuable introduction to the issues concerning gender in sport while also maintaining a sophisticated level of analysis … Messner’s innovative work certainly deserves reprinting, and this volume conveniently self-selects some of his most influential arguments.”

In Out of Play, Michael Messner tells a fascinating story about the gender dynamics at play in late twentieth-century organized sports … The brilliance of Messner’s volume lies in its ability to combine analysis of materially based institutional structures and media-based representations that together project the gender ideologies that at any given moment help constitute the world of sports.”
— American Journal of Play

“Messner takes the topic of gender to new heights … will be an appealing, eye-opening, and frightening read for anyone interested in sports, women’s studies, gender studies, or American culture in general.”

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Taking the field: Women, men, and sports. University of Minnesota Press (2002).

Winner of the 2004 Outstanding Book Award from the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport

For many years, Michael Messner has provided unparalleled insights into gender issues in the arena of sport. With Taking the Field he opens our eyes and ears to how much work still lies ahead before girls and women truly take the field with equal societal approval as boys and men. We’re thirty years beyond the passing of Title IX, but when you read Taking the Field, you realize we’re not yet where we want to be.
–Diana Nyad

Messner examines the everyday practices of sport participants and how these are saturated with gendered meanings. The sophistication and scope of the discussion, and insightful integration of the theoretical, conceptual, and empirical materials, make Taking the Field a first-rate analysis. It is a key reference on gender and sport, of interest not only to scholars in sport studies and gender studies but also to readers keen to learn about the paradoxes and challenges of contemporary social life.
–Gender & Society

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Politics of masculinities: Men in movements. Alta Mira Press (1997).

This is a timely and lively book that illuminates not only what different groups of men think about gender but how they actually perform gender in their daily lives…..
— Verta Taylor, Signs: Journal of Women In Culture & Society

… an insightful and progressive sociological analysis of the wide range of men’s movement discourse and practice in the contemporary United States. As such it serves as an excellent introduction of its subject for students and scholars, and it will likely become a standard text in undergraduate courses on critical studies of masculinities….
— American Studies

A lucid, jargon-free overview of recent American men’s reactions to feminism.
— R.W. Smith, CHOICE

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Sex, violence and power in sports: Rethinking masculinity. The Crossing Press (1994).

Following the heels of accusations against O.J. Simpson and the murder of Columbian soccer player Andres Escobar, and with a made-for-talk-shows title, could this book possibly be legitimate? You bet: men’s studies scholars Messner (Power at Play) and Sabo (Jock), who have taught and written about the subject for more than a decade, have never been more serious than in this collection of essays and articles that address the relationship between sports and violence… It is never more powerful than when the authors, both self-described jocks, look back at the brutalizing competition; the ostracization that is “team spirit” in its most virulent form; and the desperate contests in which points are kept on the scoreboard of women’s bodies.
–Publishers Weekly

The authors, both academics and former athletes, examine the culture of male sports and its relation to concepts of masculinity… in these boring times, the book is bound to be sought by a variety of readers. Also, expect the Simpson connection to bring attention to what otherwise might be an unfairly neglected book.

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Power at play: Sports and the problem of masculinity. Boston, MA: Beacon Press (1992).

Winner of the 1993 Outstanding Book Award from the North American Society for the Sociology of Sport

An examination of the heartland of masculinity. . . Power at Play tells us about [sport's] compelling allure, its ability to bestow self-confidence and social status. . . but also [about] the dark side of the athletic subculture. A work of clarity and insight.
—Gender and Society

An eye opener about sport and its meaning. . . Loaded with valuable insights.
—San Francisco Chronicle

The first examination of American jock culture that makes sense to me . . . Parents of young kids may find it especially interesting.
—Whole Earth Review

Edited Books

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Gender reckonings: New social theory and research (with James Messerschmidt, Raewyn Connell, and Patricia Yancey Martin ). New York University Press, 2018.

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Child’s Play: Sport in Kids’ Worlds (with Michela Musto). Rutgers University Press, 2016.

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Sport, gender and sexuality: Critical concepts in sports studies (Volume I: Theorizing sport, gender and sexuality; Volume II: Playing: Sport as gendered practice; Volume III: Watching: The gender and sexuality of mediated sport; Volume IV: Bodies: Sport and the production of gender and sexuality). Routledge, 2015.

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Men’s lives (with Michael S. Kimmel). Allyn & Bacon, Ninth Edition, 2013

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Gender through the prism of difference (with Maxine Baca Zinn, Pierrette Hondagneu-Sotelo and Amy M. Denissen). Oxford University Press, Fifth Edition, 2016.

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Paradoxes of youth and sport (with Margaret Gatz & Sandra Ball Rokeach). State University of New York Press, 2002.

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Masculinities, gender relations, and sport (with Jim McKay & Donald F. Sabo). Sage Publications, 2000.

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Sport, men and the gender order: Critical feminist perspectives (with Donald F. Sabo). Human Kinetics Publishers, 1990.