In praise of nepotism : a natural history



Transcription of Annotations

Front and back endpapers contain notes on the American war against nepotism, define a "new" nepotism where children choose to follow in their family's footsteps, refer to the culture of nepotism in the Mafia, and identify the Renaissance papacy under the Borgias as one the greatest monuments to nepotism in Western History. Other examples listed are the Rothschilds and Napoleon Bonaparte's family. Nepotism is widely practiced by African tribes, the clans of China and in the caste system of India. It is noted that the American attitude toward nepotism is the exception, not the rule, and that the American view of nepotism is synonymous with 'favoritism of the undeserving'. Other notes explain that nepotism in America is nevertheless wide-spread as evidenced by the fact that 95% of all American business is family owned or controlled, that John F. Kennedy appointed his brother Robert as attorney general at his father's insistence, that George W. Bush's eliminated the death tax, and that Lincoln adhered to the rule of reciprocity. -- Annotations by Brian Lamb in the margins and underlining of pertinent phrases throughout the book. -- Examples: p. 24: "The growth of the state and a civil society based on laws and contracts has led us to regard the exercise of these preferences as a form of corruption; but we can't seem to get rid of the impulse, and it creeps back in no matter what we do." -- p. 37: "The genius of the mafia has been its organizational simplicity, the resilience of its values, and its ability to adapt to a changing environment. These capabilities are clearly related to its familistic character - its roots in a culture of nepotism." -- p. 159: "Church, state, market had an impact on the unique pattern of European nepotism." -- p. 340: "From its beginnings, American politics has been animated by two principles of equal legitimacy: concern for merit and efficiency on the one hand, and the need to cultivate friendship and personal loyalty on the other." -- p. 417: "Inheritance tax: target of the Roosevelts; laid basis for interventionist state."


Bellow, Adam, “In praise of nepotism : a natural history,” One Book. One Author. One Hour., accessed October 7, 2022,


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In praise of nepotism : a natural history


Bellow, Adam


Program air date: August 24, 2003


Presents an exploration of nepotism, the favored treatment of one's relatives, arguing that the practice has its roots in human biological behavior and that it represents the bonds of human society and the transmission of family legacies.




Brian Lamb Booknotes Collection
Gift of Brian Lamb, 2011.


George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections & Archives


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1st ed.