The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth

In 1928 Margaret Mead announced her stunning discovery of a culture in which the storm and stress of adolescence didn’t exist. The resulting book, “Coming of Age in Samoa” has since become a classic – and the best-selling anthropology book of all time.

Within the nature-nurture controversy that still divides scientists, Mead’s evidence has long been a crucial “negative instance”, an apparent proof of the sovereignty of culture over biology.

In this book, the author presents startling evidence that Mead’s proof is false. On the basis of years of patient fieldwork and historical research, Freeman refutes Mead’s characterization of Samoan society and adolescence point for point. Far from the relaxed transition to adulthood that Mead ascribed to permissive child-bearing and restrictive regulations against premarital sex.

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