An account of sordidness and redemption by the Dartmouth fraternity member whose Rolling Stone profile blew the whistle on the frat's inhumane hazing practices.
Always trust the brotherhood. Always protect your pledge brothers. What happens in the house stays in the house. Before attending Dartmouth, the worst thing Andrew Lohse had ever done was skip school to attend a John McCain rally. Growing up in suburban New Jersey, he was the typical American honor student: straight As, on the lacrosse team, president of the Model U.N. He dreamed of following in his grandfather’s footsteps and graduating from the Ivy League. When he arrived at Dartmouth, however, he found not the prestigious college of years past, but a wasteland of privilege and moral entropy. And when he rushed Sigma Alpha Epsilon, the fraternity that inspired the rival house in Animal House, Lohse’s once-perfect life, as well as his goals, began to crumble around him.
Lured by free booze and friendly brothers, Andrew pledged Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and soon his life became a dangerous cycle of binge drinking and public humiliation. From chugging vinegar to swimming in a pool of human waste, Lohse’s pledge class endured cruelty and psychological coercion in the hopes of obtaining a bid. Although Andrew succeeded in joining the fraternity, the pattern of abuse continued - except over time, he became the abuser. Told by a contemporary Holden Caulfield, this is a shocking expos of America’s most exclusive institutions and a cautionary tale for modern times.
If it wasn't for the fact that just in the past few years and even months of 2017 reports of manslaughter level deaths still emerge from negligent fraternity hazing behaviors at big time American universities, one could read this title and just cringe and chuckle at the stupid, moronic and in my opinion, dangerous alcohol and drug laced"Animal House" hazing behaviors that young post-high school males (and I assume in their own realms, females) sometimes still engage in when gathered into small university groups. This is the first account I've ever read that seems credible of what they really do dare to force each other to do in the name of "brotherhood." Makes the 1978 movie and other more recent portrayals seem like an innocent romper room.
It's a memoir, which means it could be biased or even untruthful. It could be faked or embellished. Somehow the author's words, excellently narrated by the way, seem however to ring true and not exaggerated.
It's all shrouded in mystery as the real names of everyone and everything save the name Dartmouth, are changed obviously to avoid years of litigation. Still. One reads it and wonders that the book was largely a part of the author's attempt for personal closure on a time in his life that in retrospect was clearly inappropriate. That's not a bad thing and especially when it adds illumination to a practice in a place that remains largely fringey to the public at large.
If I were a concerned parent whose male offspring were about to embark on university life and maybe even Greek life at that university, I'd slip this tome into his rucksack with a note that said, "Just saying," and leave it at that. Inevitably somebody had to let the cat out of the bag on these practices, but ewwwww.
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