Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives

Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, and Creative Lives

by Frank J. Sulloway
     
 

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"An important and valuable study that will define research agendas for years to come. It is also hugely fun to read."
--Boston Globe

Why do people raised in the same families often differ more dramatically in personality than those from different families? What made Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin,… See more details below

Overview

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year

"An important and valuable study that will define research agendas for years to come. It is also hugely fun to read."
--Boston Globe

Why do people raised in the same families often differ more dramatically in personality than those from different families? What made Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, and Voltaire uniquely suited to challenge the conventional wisdom of their times? This pioneering inquiry into the significance of birth order answers both these questions with a conceptual boldness that has made critics compare it with the work of Freud and of Darwin himself.    

    



Frank J. Sulloway envisions families as ecosystems in which siblings compete for parental favor by occupying specialized niches.  Combing through thousands of biographies in politics, science, and religion, he demonstrates that firstborn children are more likely to identify with authority whereas their younger siblings are predisposed to rise against it. Family dynamics, Sulloway concludes, is a primary engine of historical change. Elegantly written, masterfully researched, Born to Rebel is a grand achievement that has galvanized historians and social scientists and will fascinate anyone who has ever pondered the enigma of human character.    

    



"Daring . . . a stunning achievement. "    


--The New York Times Book Review

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The thesis advanced by M.I.T. research scholar Sulloway (Freud: Biologist of the Mind) in this provocative, sure-to-be-controversial study is that firstborn children identify more strongly with power and authority and are more conforming, conventional and defensive, whereas younger siblings are more adventurous, rebellious and inclined to question the status quo. He bases this conclusion on birth-order research and on his theory that siblings jockey for niches within the family in Darwinian fashion: while firstborns defend their special status, later-borns are more open to experience because accessibility helps them maximize attention and love from their parents. Providing a detailed statistical analysis of thousands of individuals' responses to 28 scientific innovations-Darwinism, the Copernican revolution, Einstein's relativity, etc.-Sulloway concludes that most have been initiated and championed by later-borns, whereas firstborns tend to reject new ideas. He overstates his case when he interprets the French Revolution's Reign of Terror as fundamentally a battle between firstborn conservatives and later-born liberals, and his analysis of the Protestant Reformation in similar terms is debatable. And although Darwin, Voltaire, Ralph Nader and abolitionist Harriet Tubman were later-born siblings, Einstein, Freud, Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Lavoisier and many other radical innovators were firstborns, casting doubt on birth-order influence. Photos. First serial to the New Yorker. (Nov.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780788196775
Publisher:
DIANE Publishing Company
Publication date:
04/01/2001
Pages:
653

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