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Coming of Age in Samoa Paperback – January 1, 1971


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (January 1, 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688309747
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688309749
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #838,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Illuminating and interesting . . . Corroborates, through practical demonstration, the psychosexual theories promulgated by Freud and his pupils." -- -- Dr. A. A. Brill

About the Author

Margaret Mead (1901-1978) began her remarkable career when she visited Samoa at the age of twenty-three, which led to her first book, Coming of Age in Samoa. She went on to become one of the most influential women of our time, publishing some forty works and serving as Curator of Ethnology at the American Museum of Natural History as well as president of major scientific associations. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom following her death in 1978.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Sandwhich on January 6, 2005
Format: Paperback
A few reviewers have referenced the Mead / Freeman controversy. I'd like to explain this controversy and provide some historical context for readers unfamiliar with the book.

Coming of Age in Samoa is Margaret Mead's first publication. It launched a career that made Mead one of the most famous anthropologists in American history. I find this book interesting in two ways: historically and stylistically.

Coming of Age in Samoa is historically interesting in that it represents one culmination of the conflict between cultural and biological anthropology. Mead was a student of anthropologist Franz Boas, a famous advocate of "nurture" over "nature." Mead borrowed and expanded Boas' ideas, and many cultural anthropologists still cite her work as evidence that a person's cultural upbringing--not his genetic makeup--accounts for most of his personal development.

Anthropologists that valued "nature" over "nurture" did not dig. Mead's claims were big, bold, and well-received.

But Boas' opponents (or his opponents' students and their students' students) were able to breath easy once Derek Freeman, an Australian anthropologist, published a book refuting Mead's findings. Freeman accused Mead of conducting sloppy fieldwork, approaching her subject with predetermined conclusions, and refusing to correct her work after its publication. In response, Mead supporters accused Freeman of attacking Mead personally rather than professionally. While they disagreed about the quality of Freeman's own fieldwork, these critics all thought that he could have written his critique with more tact and civility.

Coming of Age in Samoa is stylistically interesting in that it targets a general audience. Some sections seem to come from a travelogue, others from a novella.
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By golffiend on May 24, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My husband started this because we were both looking forward to it. My aunt is Samoan and I thought that would be very informative. My husband couldn't finish it and I didn't start it. It was disappointing.
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22 of 39 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on August 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am not an anthropologist, and I am not qualified to judge the claims of either Mead's detractors or defenders. Clearly, she was writing as the product of her time-- and in fact noted in the preface to the 1952 edition that this kind of book would provide more evidence about the time and place the author was from than about the culture being studied.
It is certainly a pleasurable book to read. She paints a picture of an approach to childhood that sets ours off in a not-too-flattering light-- it successfully questions the values of her own culture regardless of how well it captures Samoan culture. I can understand why people from Samoa might find that "regardless" offensive, but I find it (again) a rather hopeless thing to try and judge. I do not find this book less valuable because I question its truth-- I do not know any scholarly book from the 1920s whose veracity would not be tested-- and at this point in time I think everyone who reads it is not accepting it as an authoritative view.
File it under history of our cultural thought or under Utopian philosophy if you'd rather not file it under anthropology-- but I'd still recommend that you read it and file it somewhere.
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9 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
Though Meads research was questionable in terms of its accuracy, the observations she makes of Samoan and American cultures caused the anthropolgical world of the time to rethink itself and reorganize its ways of doing things. This book will cause one to reflect upon a society's culture much more deeply and look for the things within that culture that make it truly wonderful.
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6 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Dawn Hadfield on August 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
I had to read this book for an essay I was writing, but I did not think I would enjoy it. I figured it would be the kind of book you half heartidly read because you have no choice. Boy was I wrong. I loved the book. I enjoyed reading about Meads adventures, and sure...they say that she was tricked and lied to, but I still believe she was ahead of her time and discovered a lot about the culture.
Great Read for anyone who likes to learn about society and cultures
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