American Nerd by Benjamin Nugent
The Story of My People

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Most people know a nerd when they see one but can't define just what a nerd is. American Nerd: The Story of My People gives us the history of the concept of nerdiness and of the subcultures we consider nerdy. What makes Dr. Frankenstein the archetypal nerd? Where did the modern jock come from? When and how did being a self-described nerd become trendy? As the nerd emerged, vaguely formed, in the nineteenth century, and popped up again and again in college humor journals and sketch comedy, our culture obsessed over the designation.

Mixing research and reportage with autobiography, critically acclaimed writer Benjamin Nugent embarks on a fact-finding mission of the most entertaining variety. He seeks the best definition of nerd and illuminates the common ground between nerd subcultures that might seem unrelated: high-school debate team kids and ham radio enthusiasts, medieval reenactors and pro-circuit Halo players. Why do the same people who like to work with computers also enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons? How are those activities similar? This clever, enlightening book will appeal to the nerd (and antinerd) that lives inside all of us.

About Benjamin Nugent

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Benjamin Nugent's nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Time, and n+1, and his fiction has appeared in Tin House. He holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts fellow. Director of Creative Writing at Southern New Hampshire University, he teaches fiction and nonfiction in its MFA and undergraduate programs. He grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Published May 13, 2008 by Scribner. 244 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Journalist, blogger and Dungeons & Dragons veteran Nugent (Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing, 2004) delineates the world of the “nerd,” which Newsweek described in 1951 as a Detroit term for “a drip or a square.” Nerds have been exemplified in popular culture, he writes, by the bow-tied scientist...

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The New York Times

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Why did the nerd button the top button of his shirt?

Jun 01 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

Publishers Weekly

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In his charming and disarmingly serious study of the history of the “nerd” in popular culture and throughout modern history, Nugent (Elliott Smith and the Big Nothing ) succeeds in crafting a nuanced discussion without resorting to smugness or excessive cleverness.

Feb 11 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

Entertainment Weekly

Based on its genius subtitle (''The Story of My People'') and its blurb from Chuck Klosterman, you might expect American Nerd to be the latest in the recent spate of clever-yet-premature memoirs to spring from NYC literati.

May 09 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

In American Nerd, Benjamin Nugent delves into the subculture and history of the nerd, from Pride and Prejudice through the World of Warcraft and anime nerds of the present day.

Aug 22 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

Various sub-castes are represented here: debate nerds, anime nerds, World of Warcraft nerds, nerd hipsters, and my personal favorite, Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) nerds, a group of more than 30,000 adults worldwide who cooperatively dedicate themselves to reproducing historical crafts, ...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Randy Dotinga Boston Globe 3.5 of 5 Stars "The passages in which Nugent reduces nerds to their essence (and the obligatory chapter on nerds and Asperger’s syndrome) will provoke winces of self-recognition in a lot of readers, which is why this book is at its best when Nugent makes everything...

May 18 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

Scientific American

Boellstorff, an anthropologist at the University of California, Irvine, applies the methods and theories of his field to a virtual world accessible only through a computer screen.

Jun 10 2008 | Read Full Review of American Nerd: The Story of M...

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