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

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

by Frank J. Sulloway


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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679758761
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/30/1997
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 672
Sales rank: 588,623
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.00(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Frank J. Sulloway has a Ph.D. from Harvard. He is a M.I.T. Research Scholar and also a recipient of a MacArthur 'Genius' grant. He is the author of Freud: Biologist of the Mind. He lives in Massachusetts.

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Born to Rebel: Birth Order, Family Dynamics, & Creative Lives 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Devil_llama on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A well written, easy to read book about the way that birth order affects our personality. An interesting entry into the nature vs. nurture debate, which gives a solid argument for the idea that children develop their personality in part based on where they are in the family.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was valuable in understanding myself and understanding others. I had never realized that there has been an ongoing battle between firstborns and latterborns all through history. Nor had I realized that most of my disagreements have been with people who are of the opposite birth order. As a result of reading this book, I have twofold advice for anyone: 1. Don't be too hard on yourself if you clash with those of opposite birth order. It's probably not your fault. 2. Don't be too hard on the other party if you clash with those of opposite birth order. It's probably not their fault, either. I have just one criticism of the historical examples: why wasn't the protest against the Vietnam war ever mentioned?