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Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives

Shared Beginnings, Divergent Lives

Delinquent Boys to Age 70

John H. Laub, Robert J. Sampson

ISBN 9780674019935

Publication date: 03/31/2006

This book analyzes newly collected data on crime and social development up to age 70 for 500 men who were remanded to reform school in the 1940s. Born in Boston in the late 1920s and early 1930s, these men were the subjects of the classic study Unraveling Juvenile Delinquency by Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck (1950). Updating their lives at the close of the twentieth century, and connecting their adult experiences to childhood, this book is arguably the longest longitudinal study of age, crime, and the life course to date.

John Laub and Robert Sampson's long-term data, combined with in-depth interviews, defy the conventional wisdom that links individual traits such as poor verbal skills, limited self-control, and difficult temperament to long-term trajectories of offending. The authors reject the idea of categorizing offenders to reveal etiologies of offending--rather, they connect variability in behavior to social context. They find that men who desisted from crime were rooted in structural routines and had strong social ties to family and community.

By uniting life-history narratives with rigorous data analysis, the authors shed new light on long-term trajectories of crime and current policies of crime control.

Praise

  • The accounts of individuals are quite riveting, and the book can be recommended strongly purely for the stories provided about diverse lives. However, the book is much, much more than that in terms of the serious challenge that the authors' findings and ideas present to some of the leading contemporary theories of both crime and development. A highly original and scholarly contribution of the highest quality.

    —Sir Michael Rutter, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London

Awards

  • 2005, Winner of the Albert J. Reiss Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award

Authors

  • John H. Laub is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Maryland.
  • Robert J. Sampson is Professor and Chair of Sociology at Harvard University.

Book Details

  • 352 pages
  • 0-7/8 x 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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