London — What are men like when women aren’t around? Jane Austen couldn’t imagine, so her novels contain almost no private male conversations.

Tabitha Lasley is more intrepid. A sometime journalist, she spends six months in Aberdeen, interviewing the men who work on offshore oil rigs. Thus she hunts down that old-school masculinity, which we are always told is under threat yet which somehow keeps bubbling beneath the surface...

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