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Social Science Gay Studies

American Hunks

The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860-1970

by (author) David L. Chapman & Brett Josef Grubisic

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
Gay Studies, Popular Culture
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

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About the authors

David L. Chapman is the author of twelve books on male photography and bodybuilding, including American Hunks (Arsenal, 2009), Comin” at Ya!: The Homoerotic 3D Photographs of Denny Denfield (Arsenal, 2007), Adonis: The Male Physique Pin-up, and two other books on Denny Denfield. He lives in Seattle.

David L. Chapman's profile page

Brett Josef Grubisic teaches contemporary literature at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. His most recent book of fiction is This Location of Unknown Possibilities (2014). He is the author of Understanding Beryl Bainbridge, co-author (with David L. Chapman) of American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture, 1860—1970 and co-editor (with Andrea Cabajsky) of National Plots: Historical Fiction and Changing Ideas of Canada (WLU Press, 2010).

Brett Josef Grubisic's profile page

Editorial Reviews

Pictures of legendary physiques from original superstar hunk Eugen Sandow to Charles Atlas to Arnold Schwarzenegger appear, well produced and annotated.... What might have been a wink-wink, nudge-nudge volume is instead vital Americana.


American Hunks is far more than just a photo book; it explores the culture of ideal masculinity as far back as the Industrial Revolution.... [The book] is presented in a way which is frankly fascinating. The book feels like a trip to a museum in itself, and Chapman serves as the colorful tour guide. Well written and well annotated, this book is, hands-down, the best place to start for anyone who's curious about the subject matter.
-Seattle Gay News

Seattle Gay News

A delightfully eclectic compilation of historical man pix.... The photos and drawings, as selected and captioned by David L. Chapman, beautifully capture the erotic codes and cultural trajectory of the posed and naked male though the decades.


The excellent American Hunks: The Muscular Male Body in Popular Culture explores the "long and gradual striptease" of the chiseled, well-built American male as he evolved into a cultural icon far more ubiquitous than many people would care to admit.
-Outsmart Magazine (Houston)


A wonderful collection of photographs, spanning a bit more than a century from 1860 to the early 1970s.
-Speak Its Name (blog)

Speak Its Name

Chapman's pithy descriptions provide fine context, and Grubisic's well-sourced preface provides intellectual heft to accompany the physical bulk.
-Richard Labonte, Book Marks

Book Marks

Co-au­thors David L. Chap­man and Brett Josef Grubisic incisively address the use of homoerotic imagery in the service of political and military propaganda, grounding the stunning, often full-color re­productions in a historical context. And did we mention the visuals are smokin'?
-Just Out (Portland, OR)

Just Out

A beautifully produced volume.... American Hunks is an important contribution to the underdeveloped social history of the visual treatment of the well-built male body as documented in drawings and photography since the middle of the 19th century.
-Wisconsin Gazette

Wisconsin Gazette

Starting with the post-Civil War health craze that made names like Graham (of the cracker), Post and Kellogg (they, of cereal) household names, just the first few daguerrotypes of muscle men is worth the price of this book alone. American Hunks is encyclopedic in its accommodation of what society---and, not incidentally, the burgeoning consumer culture---considered hot.
-EDGE Publications (Boston, Chicago, etc.)

EDGE Publications

A fascinating collection of images that are homoerotic in every sense of the word.
-Bent magazine (UK)


Other titles by David L. Chapman

Other titles by Brett Josef Grubisic