Coming of Age in Samoa
21 January 2017 | Pago Pago, American Samoa
As Margret Mead and her mentor expected, her book Coming of Age In Samoa upset many Westerners when it first appeared in 1928.
Many American readers felt shocked by her observation that young Samoan women deferred marriage for many years while enjoying casual sex before eventually choosing a husband. As a landmark study regarding sexual mores, the book was highly controversial and frequently came under attack on ideological grounds.
For example, the National Catholic Register argued that Mead's findings were merely a projection of her own sexual beliefs and reflected her desire to eliminate restrictions on her own sexuality. The traditionalist conservative Intercollegiate Studies Institute listed Coming of Age in Samoa as #1 on the list of what it thinks are the "50 Worst Books of the Twentieth Century".
While flawed in some serious regards, it was a breakthrough study in anthropology and its methods and it provides a good description of Samoan cultural and social norms and morae at the time, much of which still survives.