Comments & Reviews about Reading History Sideways

Several scholars have now read Reading History Sideways and provided comments and reviews about the book. The statements that have come to our attention are listed below with reference links.


John Caldwell, Australia National University - "The product of great scholarship."


Gerald Cradock, University of Windsor, Canada - "A large and ambitious project....needs a more sophisticated theoretical framework capable of supporting what amounts to a 'grand narrative' of families around the globe."


Kenneth M. Cuno, University of Illinois - "Thornton amply documents the influence of developmentalist thinking in the foundational scholarship of Locke, Malthus, Le Play, Morgan, and Westermarck on the family....[and] demonstrate[s] .....the impact of developmental idealism in shaping 'modern' family life..."


Calvin Goldscheider, Brown University - "An intellectual feast ... grand theory at its best."


Tim Futing Liao, University of Illinois - "A superb piece of serious scholarship and an intellectual tour de force that deserves to be on the desk of....all social scientists....interested in societal change."


Attila Melegh, Hungarian Demographic Research Institute - "A very important book, which should be a starting point for all students and scholars studying the history of demography and modern social sciences in general."


K. M. McKinley, Cabrini College - "Wonderful because of the range and depth of the historical information as well as the theoretical analysis."


Susannah Ottaway, Carleton College - "This is an intriguing work....Historians of the family will benefit by engaging with Thornton's sweeping theories, even if these theories will require serious revision in the light of more rigorous historical analysis."


Michele Rivkin-Fish, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - "His impressive study promises to reorient population research in important new directions".


Rebecca Jane Probert, Warwick School of Law, UK - "An ambitious work that stimulates, even if it does not always convince."


Steven Ruggles, University of Minnesota - "Doubtful whether Thornton will convince many intellectual historians."


Daniel Scott Smith, University of Illinois at Chicago - "Hardly novel to criticize modernization and other frameworks of unilinear social evolution." [PDF]


Silvia Sovic, University of London - "A much needed book about powerful conceptual frameworks that have been profoundly influential for centuries....should be compulsory reading for any scholar working on families."


Dirk J. van de Kaa, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute - "A carefully constructed, well-argued, monument of a book that will in no time become a classic in the social sciences." [PDF]


Etienne van de Walle, University of Pennsylvania - "The argument is provocative, systematic, and cogent.... and [the book] is likely to be an important and influential contribution to family sociology"


Linda Waite, University of Chicago - "Strikingly original and extremely important, and ... argument is careful and thoughtful."


Susan Cotts Watkins, University of Pennsylvania - "Abundant and convincing evidence."


Martin K. Whyte, Harvard University - "An intellectual gem....Hopefully this new book will finally undermine the intellectual dominance of the developmental paradigm in studying family change"


Publication details for Reading History Sideways: The Fallacy and Enduring Impact of the Developmental Paradigm on Family Life.

 Reading History Sideways book cover

Recent Pub

Kavas & Thornton. "Developmental Idealism and Beliefs About Marriage and Fertility in Turkey," in Population Research and Policy Review.

Recent Pub

Thornton, Dorius, Swindle, Young-Demarco, Moaddel. "Middle Eastern Beliefs about the Causal Linkages of Development to Freedom, Democracy, and Human Rights." Sociology of Development.

Recent Pub

Kiss, Tamás. "Escaping the "Balkanizing" Gaze? Perceptions of Global and Internal Developmental Hierarchies in Romania." East European Politics and Societies.

Reading History Sideways

The method of reading history sideways is described and critiqued by Arland Thornton

© 2019
Developmental Idealism
Population Studies Center
University of Michigan