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The Sibling Effect: What the Bonds Among Brothers and Sisters Reveal About Us

3.18 of 5 stars 3.18  ·  rating details  ·  805 ratings  ·  179 reviews
A senior writer at Time magazine explores what scientists and researchers are discovering about sibling bonds, the longest- lasting relationships we have in our lives.

Nobody affects us as deeply as our brothers and sisters-not parents, not children, not friends. From the time we-and they-are born, our siblings are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 15th 2011 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published January 1st 2009)
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Aug 15, 2012 O_susannah rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to O_susannah by: Stephen Colbert
So I wanted to like this book a lot better than I ended up actually liking it. I'm really interested in sibling dynamics, especially in the effects of birth order. And he definitely talks about these things. But the book, to me, tried to be too many things at once. It tried to cover too much ground, it tried in many ways to be a "how-to" book on blending families, raising kids, etc., and it tried to be academic, but failed because it was overly anecdotal at the expense of academic-ness.

Jt O'Neill
I have always defined myself, in part, by my place in my family. I am the fifth child in a family of nine siblings and the first daughter of two daughters. My sister is the eighth child in the family and we are separated by 7 years. Our parents were married at the close of WW2 and we grew up under the strong influence of the Catholic Church. Our parents remained married until my dad's death in 1996 so there were no step siblings or half siblings involved in my life.

My sibs shaped who I am in w
So far my entirely unscientific conclusion from this pseudo-scientific book is that if you want to give your offspring equal chances at success and happiness you should either have just one(no division of parental resources) or 4+ (division so great no one is favored over any other). As a parent of 3 I am not sure i can glean much of help here(I suspect trying to subvert the age old sociological constructs that underpin sibling relationships might be a task beyond me), but I find the book very r ...more
Ugh, I'm throwing in the towel on this one - it just wasn't scholarly enough for me (ok, it wasn't scholarly at all!). Sure, the author reported on an assortment of sibling studies done (not that he cited his sources) but then he followed it up with how it applied to his own family.

And worst of all, he'd top it all off by using some celebrity or another to model the research. I find no value whatsoever in reading anecdotal evidence based on the public persona of various celebrities. Maybe the a
This book was very disappointing. The book is part autobiography about the author's relationship with his brothers, part parenting book, and part academic research review. It ends up being good at none of these. Furthermore, by trying to do too much, the books seemed to never find its focus or move towards anything in particular.

While the autobiographical part could have been interesting, it was too intermittent to really capture my attention. But the author failed supremely in the academic sect
As the third of four sisters, the topic of siblings interests me immensely and I was hoping to understand our sisterly dynamic better after reading this book. Unfortunately no easy answers were to be found: it seems the variables that go into sibling science are so complicated that it's very difficult to tease apart the contributions of birth order, gender proportion, parental favoritism, etc. What correlations have been found most often didn't apply to my sisters and me, alas.

The studies and e
Felt flat and seemed filled with fluff. I think it disappointed me because I was expecting a rigorous study and firm conclusions, even though I know that a topic like sibling relations doesn’t lend itself easily to rigorous studies and firm conclusions. Still – this could have been better. It’s impossible to write a book on this subject without talking about your own experiences with your siblings. And Kluger, growing up with three brothers close in age and then getting mixed up with even more s ...more
The facts presented here are interesting but seem unscientific to me. Kluger does list studies to back him up, but the anecdotes from his own life often conflict with the findings. Birth order is important, but not that important. Parents pick favorites, but mostly it doesn't matter. The youngest boy in a family of many boys is more likely to be gay, but in his family the opposite is true. I'm left feeling like there is no real truth to his analysis of sibling relationships other than they are i ...more
Joy H.
THE SIBLING EFFECT - Brothers, Sisters, and the Bonds That Define Us
by Jeffrey Kluger (first published March 2009)

Added 9/23/11.

9/23/11 - I discovered this book today among the NY Times book update reviews for 9/23/11.
The title of the book review is: "What Our Siblings Do to Us".
Below is a link to the review:

A footnote at the review says:
"A version of this review appeared in print on September 25, 2011, on page BR18 of the Sunday Book Review with the headl
This was another book I picked up at a bookstore that sold used books. Years ago I read a book about birth order and this book looked like it would be interesting too. The author shares some of his family stories and how his relationship with his family has affected his world. He uses studies, science, and research to defend some points about the role of sisters and brothers and how that role guides us in what we do later in life. While I enjoyed the book I wish he had used different chapter hea ...more
I was disappointed in this book. It was pretty simplistic. The author grew up in a family with four boys, so maybe he didn't realize how much gender also plays a role in families and how siblings relate to each other. He had a whole chapter on the effect of birth order on siblings and how they relate to each other and their parents. I felt that by not even acknowledging that gender can also play a role in these kinds of things, he missed a huge opportunity.
Walter Bowne
So this book sounded very interesting. I love psychology, and of course from reading lots of books that our siblings deeply impact us. Think King Lear. Think Little Women. Think Three Sisters. Think The Brady Bunch. So I was keen on learning additional stuff. Well, I did, and this book is decent. I loved when the book related the author's experiences, trouble with his father, the remarriage, and all that narrative was moving. The problem comes, however, as in most soft sciences, with examples an ...more
Charity (CJ)
The Sibling Effect begins with Kluger's personal observations of his relationship with his three brothers, and then Kluger tries to explain what he's observed using the relatively small and often contradictory research available about sibling relationships. The book would have worked better if he'd just picked one or the other, and probably would have worked best if he'd just chosen to make it a memoir and dropped the pretense of science entirely.

Kluger appears to want to include all of the rese
Jason Hamilton
From the book The Sibling Effect - What the bonds among brothers and sisters reveal about us by Jeffrey Kluger

Page 7:

From the time we're born, our brothers and sisters are our collaborators and co-conspirators, our role models and our cautionary tales. They are our scolds, protectors, goads, tormentors, playmates, counselors, sources of envy, objects of pride. They help us learn how to resolve conflicts and how not to; how to conduct friendships and when to walk away from them. Sisters teach bro
I had real high hopes for this book and it ended up being a disappointment, mostly because I was looking to either gain insight into my own experiences as one of two sisters or to learn what to expect as I raise my young one of each pairing. However, the topic is so broad that neither of those were treated in much depth in this book. And the author had numerous anecdotes about growing up as one of four brothers with step siblings and half siblings, experiences totally foreign to me that did not ...more
While some of the theories about siblings mentioned in this book are pretty obvious, there were a few theories that were new and interesting to me. I liked how it was a mix of the author's own childhood with studies done. I find books with all studies to be pretty boring. I found some theories to be definitely true and some to be very false. I did not appreciate how negative the book was about youngest siblings. Only children were treated better than youngest children! Besides that fact, this bo ...more
Mike Smith
It seems obvious, but I hadn't really thought about it until I read this book: your relationships with your siblings will almost certainly be the longest relationships of your life. Your siblings will be with you from early childhood until old age. This book explores the effects that siblings have on each other. It covers such topics as sibling rivalry and fighting, birth order (first- and last-born tend to get more perks than middle children), parental favouritism, divorce and step- and half-si ...more
This book examines how growing up with siblings affects our personalities and emotional development. I was attracted to the book because I have a close-in-age younger sister with whom I don’t interact much as an adult. So, I was interested to see what the author had to say about that sort of situation.

Perhaps I would have gotten more out of the book if I were a parent or if I had a less dysfunctional relationship with my own sibling. The author seems to assume that most adults have (or want to
How much of our psyches are influenced by our siblings? Does birth order really matter? Do our parents play favorites? Jeffrey Kluger, a senior editor at Time magazine, explores these questions, and many others, in his new book.

I have to admit that I approached this book with more than just curiosity. I have two children, who are close in age and, I can’t really imagine how their sibling experience may go. I come from a large family—I could say that my mother had six children. While she did have
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. Kluger examines the bonds siblings have, as well as how they can affect one another, good and bad, younger and older, half siblings, step-siblings and full-blooded ones.

Intertwined with his story of his brothers and later step-siblings and half siblings, Kluger looks at the relationships siblings have with one another throughout life, from babyhood to childhood and beyond. He looks at siblings tussles to hierarchy to effects on teen pregnancy a
Borderline trash. This man thinks I want to read a completely uninteresting autobiography about him, an unremarkable man, clouding interesting information about important siblings in history?

Each chapter boils down to him giving an autobiographical anecdote about his own family, throwing in some famous sibling stories, and then coming to the conclusion that certain aspects of sibling-hood is of evolutionary advantage.

Duh. That's why it's called natural selection.
I discovered this book by chance in an online search of an unrelated library book. I began reading it with the intention of affirming my belief that my siblings and I are a close knit group. I ended up discovering much more, including insight into my four sons and their sibling relationships. The fact that we spend more time in this life in a relationship with our siblings, than any other relationship, is true. I enjoyed learning of the dynamics of many siblings that were shared in clinical stud ...more
It would have been hard for me not to at least partially enjoy The Sibling Effect, simply because it was fun to stack up against my own life. Neurotic studious older sibling versus creative free-thinking younger sibling? Check. Older and younger siblings having different approaches to dealing with their parents’ divorce? Check. Younger sibling first to die off in impending natural disaster or famine-like situation? God I hope so. (Kidding!)

Overall, this was a decently interesting book that could
Michael Jenkins
I had a hard time rating this book,it was more average. I loved the idea of the book about how siblings transformed lives through experiences, and critical advice about overcoming obstacles. It also talked about the misconception about sibling disputes and how that actually can be a benefical thing than a bad thing. Despite the testimonies from the author and the lovely writing style, it was not exactly what I was looking for.

Although it was an insightful book, it was too scientific than persuas
Jeffrey Kluger has an accessible, easygoing style of writing that I found a pleasure to read. I liked his family anecdotes, but his attempts to relate them to research into birth order within a family did not always work. I came to the book with an interest in the subject and lots of questions, but after reading it, I have just as many questions and a stronger than ever sense that birth order has little to do with character or personality. There are just so many variables, and while the author m ...more
Mrs W
Jan 20, 2013 Mrs W rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2012
Very cool and interesting book. The author's personal stories made it less sciency and more readable. I also liked that he admits that while "trends" may be seen in sibling research, it's not a strict cause-effect type of science, since human beings bring so many variables to the table. I recommend this if you're interested in the topic of birth-order or other sibling (or only child) research and are new to the topic.
• No language or sexual issues
• Kluger’s father was physical with his children.
Marla Glenn
This is a really interesting book and an easy, conversational read by Kluger of Time magazine. He weaves in details from his own family to help illustrate some of the more scientific points.

I have to say, this work gives me whole new insights into my own brother's behavior, particularly when we were teen-agers and he took to belittling me on a regular basis. Maybe I should send him a copy of the book?
I was fairly disappointed with this book, because I expected to really like it.

For one thing, the book relied too much on anecdotal evidence from the author's life. He would relate the results of some trends of study to events of his life - e.g., the effect of birth order, the impact of blended families. It was almost as if he was shoving his persona memoir into the confines of a more scientifically rigorous analysis. For another thing, his summaries of research trends seemed to be all over the
Through the analysis of the life and behavior of some "famous brothers" and several sketches of the life of the author, we have a more or less psychological examination of "how is the life" for people with siblings or, even if much reduced in terms of pages, without them.

Attraverso l'analisi della vita e dei comportamenti di alcuni "fratelli famosi" piú parecchi spaccati della vita dell'autore, abbiamo una disamina piú o meno psicologica di quello che comporta avere dei fratelli o, per quanto tr
This was a well crafted book by a talented author. He takes a thorny and complex subject and does an excellent job of making it relatable . He manages to bring scientific articles and there is inherent uncertainty into focus during this book-no mean feat- all while putting it in perspective with stories from people's lives. (It's a wonder that he isn't more screwed up , given what he relates as his family background. Kudos to him and his brothers for persevering through some real adversity.)

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Jeffrey Kluger is a senior writer for TIME. He joined TIME as a contributor in 1996, and was named a senior writer in 1998. He has written a number of cover stories, including reports on the connection between sex and health, the Mars Pathfinder landing, the loss of the shuttle Columbia, and the collision aboard the Mir space station.

In 2002, Mr. Kluger along with two other colleagues, won First P
More about Jeffrey Kluger...
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