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15 Minutes of Fame: La Jolla author’s first book landed her on Oprah Winfrey’s show and hundreds more

Myriam Miedzian appears on the Charlie Rose talk show in the early 1990s.
Myriam Miedzian appears on the Charlie Rose talk show in the early 1990s.
(Courtesy of Myriam Miedzian)

Myriam Miedzian’s “Boys Will Be Boys,” which examined factors in aggression and violence in American males, was a sensation after it was first published in 1991.

Are you a La Jollan who has experienced what you would consider your “15 minutes of fame”? If so, the La Jolla Light wants to hear it. This story is part of an occasional series that puts the spotlight back on those who had their moment in the sun.

When La Jolla resident Myriam Miedzian set out write her first book in the early 1990s, she had no idea it ultimately would send her on a three-year world tour of speaking engagements, talk show appearances and even a brush with Oprah Winfrey at a time when her show averaged 12 million viewers a day.

Miedzian is the author of “Boys Will Be Boys: Breaking the Link between Masculinity and Violence,” which examines the factors that influence aggression and violence in American males.

After it was first published in 1991 (with a softcover version widely circulated a year later), Miedzian was booked on about 300 TV and radio shows, including the Winfrey, Charlie Rose and Larry King talk shows, and speaking engagements at universities across the country over a span of almost three years. When the British edition of the book was released, the publishers flew her to the United Kingdom for additional TV, radio and public speaking appearances.

Shows like King’s and Winfrey’s “were very popular at the time, but I had already been teaching for a good part of my life, so I was used to speaking to my classes and in front of an audience,” Miedzian told the La Jolla Light. “A lot of people get very anxious about that kind of thing, but I wasn’t nervous about it. I wasn’t completely relaxed, but I wasn’t a wreck.”

During her appearance with Winfrey, Miedzian was one of multiple experts asked to opine on a topical story of the time.

When she was a guest on Rose’s show, the episode also featured someone with an opposing viewpoint.

“The book was very controversial at the time,” she said. “I think that’s why I got on so many shows. I was called a male-basher a lot. In some fields, the book was just rejected as sexist against men. But on the other hand, I also got letters and phone calls from men who were working with juvenile delinquents or prisons. It seemed like the people who had experience with my topic were very enthusiastic.”

She was also the subject of a Time magazine article, and op-eds about the book appeared in publications across North America.

Following the book’s success, Miedzian did a lot of public speaking and was invited to testify before the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families (which has since been terminated).

Myriam Miedzian sits in her La Jolla home, where she still reads "Boys Will Be Boys" from time to time.
Myriam Miedzian sits in her La Jolla home, where she still reads “Boys Will Be Boys” from time to time.
(Courtesy of Myriam Miedzian)

“My motivation for the book was not to get famous or anything,” she said with a laugh. “My book is dedicated to a few of the huge number of my family members that were murdered in the Holocaust. It’s been difficult for me my whole life and the center of my preoccupation with violence. ...

“I get particular satisfaction from the fact that ‘Boys Will Be Boys,’ which contains three chapters on the importance of caring, involved fathers in terms of diminishing anti-social or violent behavior, was one of a few books published in the 1990s that played an important role in encouraging men to take up a role that in some environments has by now become commonplace.”

Though Miedzian welcomed the opportunity to discuss her book, her brush with fame was “exhausting after awhile,” she said.

During a speaking tour of U.S. universities, Miedzian often would fly from state to state in small planes, visiting small towns along the way.

“One time when I was leaving Minnesota, I had to take this really small plane that looked like it was in really bad shape. I didn’t want to do it, but I did, and four months later that plane crashed,” she said. “After that, I cut back on going on these talks in small places.”

Miedzian has published two more books and now focuses on opinion pieces and blog posts on a variety of topics.

A couple of years ago, she also was part of a group that helped get a statue of key figures who helped advance women’s suffrage installed in Central Park in New York.

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(Daniel K. Lew)

Contact Ashley Mackin-Solomon with your 15 Minutes of Fame story at ashleym@lajollalight.com.