MEAD, Margaret.

Coming of Age in Samoa.

A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilisation. Foreword by Franz Boas.

New York: William Morrow & Company, 1928 Stock Code: 118644

One of the most widely read anthropology books ever published

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First edition, first printing, of Mead's first and pioneering book which launched her career as an internationally recognised anthropologist. Based on Mead's immersive field work in American Samoa in 1925, Coming of Age in Samoa is one of the most widely read anthropology books ever published. Its unwavering influence during the following decades is evidenced by the publication of Derek Freeman's denunciation, Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth, in 1983. His refutation of Mead's conclusions sparked a new wave of arguments regarding the nature and nurture debate, which became known as the Mead-Freeman controversy.

The first issue jacket is free of reviews and does not have the quotation from George A. Dorsey printed at the top of the front panel in red as here. This was added to later issues, in keeping with Morrow's drive to maximize its sales by circulating as many endorsements as possible. Dorsey was a former curator of anthropology at the Field Museum of Natural History whose book, Why We Behave Like Humans (1926), had been a highly popular success. In a letter to Mead on 11 January 1929 William Morrow happily reported that he had "spent an evening with George Dorsey about the middle of December, and found him greatly delighted over the way we handled the book. We spent nearly 1,500.00 in various forms of advertising and promotion, and I am very glad we did because although this is a substantial sum for a book of its kind, I am confident the expenditure will be justified by the continued sales" (Lutkehaus, p. 91).

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Octavo. Original dark blue cloth, spine lettered in silver, front board illustrated with palm trees in silver. With the supplied pictorial dust jacket from a later issue.


Black and white photographic frontispiece, 7 plates.


Previous ownership signature of Arthur H. Swann to front free endpaper. Spine ends and corners a touch rubbed, foot of spine bruised with single nick, else the cloth bright and unmarked, the contents near-fine; jacket spine and rear panel lightly browned, joints split in places occasioning some loss and chipping at ends, remnants of tape repairs to verso. In all a very good copy, the contents especially crisp and clean.


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