The American Male at Age 10

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Journalist Susan Orlean followed around a typical American 10-year-old boy in 1992 – white, middle-class and suburban – and produced an Esquire profile. The Classic Esquire Podcast reads excerpts from the story and talks to the author.

In 1992, writer Susan Orlean was tired of celebrity profiles. Instead, she wanted to do something bigger, deeper, and much harder: She wanted to profile the inner life of an average American boy. After convincing her editor, Orlean spent more than a week going to fifth grade and hanging out with Colin Duffy, a ten-year-old from Glen Ridge, New Jersey. The resulting article—“The American Man at Age Ten”—stands as one of the most intimate and touching portraits of what it’s like to be a boy in America. Orlean joins host David Brancaccio to discuss how the story came about, what it was like to shadow Colin and where he is now, and how the piece continues to reverberate almost twenty-five years after it was first published.

Read the article: The American Male at Age 10 / Susan Orlean / Esquire / December 1992

The Classic Esquire Podcast