THE FAMILY: The Evolution of Our Oldest Human Institution by Joan Berg & Joelle Sander Victor

THE FAMILY: The Evolution of Our Oldest Human Institution

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Victor and Sander begin with ""the origins of the family"" among Homo erectus, Neanderthal, and Cro-Magnon man, then summarize in 14 different chapters the family structure, marriage customs, sex roles, child-rearing practices, etc., of 14 different cultures. These are as varied as the ancient Egyptian, the Medieval English, and the Iroquois societies--and they include several tribal cultures studied earlier in the 20th century but nevertheless misleadingly described in the present tense. In the last two chapters, on the black American and the middle-class white American families, the limitations of the authors' generalizing, synopsis approach is especially noticeable; but it is dry and unstimulating throughout. All description, this is instant anthropology, a sort of outline of a beginning college course, providing neither a sense of the different cultures nor any intellectual framework in which to view them. (For an introduction that does both, see Gregor, above.) Perhaps the mere fact that different peoples make such different arrangements will be a revelation to some readers; otherwise this is chiefly a handy compilation for school-related searches--toward which the marginal guidewords seem aimed in any case.

Pub Date: June 26th, 1978
Publisher: Bobbs-Merrill