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

by Frank J. Sulloway

ISBN 0679442324 / 9780679442325 / 0-679-44232-4
Publisher Pantheon
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

A landmark work that illuminates the crucial influence of birth order on personality and the far-reaching consequences of sibling competition--not only within individual families but on society as a whole.


At the heart of this pioneering inquiry is a fundamental insight into human behavior: that the personalities of first-born children differ from those of their younger siblings not because of cultural differences but because common human instincts play themselves out differently in the universal quest for parental favor. Frank Sulloway's most important finding--that eldest children support the status quo and youngest children rebel against it--provides the foundation for startling analyses of the Protestant Reformation, the French Revolution, and Darwin's theory of evolution.


Concerning first borns--Did you know that:
First borns are more frequently defenders of the status quo, more accepting of parental or conventional values.
In their support of authority they will use either brains or violence to resolve conflict.
More first borns--Albert Einstein, Ivan Pavlov, Linus Pauling--are Nobel Laureates.
First borns--like Stalin, Robespierre, and Carlos the Jackal--will not shy away from tactics of terrorism.


Concerning later-borns--Did you know that:
Most later-borns more frequently turn over convention and champion reform, revolution and upheaval.
Later-borns have been the catalysts of change supporting free speech, free worship, civil rights and women's rights.
They are the creators of revolutionary ideas--Voltaire, Rousseau, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson-- were all later-borns.
Those who pressed for the absolution of slavery--Frederick Douglass, John Brown and Harriet Tubman--were all later-borns.


Born to Rebel is a path-breaking study, a solid confirmation of the belief that a scientific, empirical basis exists for our understanding of human behavior. [via]