The basis of this extraordinary effort, the first in a trilogy of foundation volumes in anthropology, is that all history is the history of reproduction and succession - in other words, of kinship. Fox claims that anthropology seems to have forgotten this, while sociology never did grasp it, getting bogged down in something called the family. Economics and psychology for their part were never of much help in the pursuits of cultural universals.If Reproduction and Succession is about anything then, it is about the great shift from the law of status to the law of contract. But this shift hi fault lines concerns not just ideas and legal scaffolds, but some intractable biological givens of the peculiar species that we are. No matter how much we shift our ideas about how the world ought to work, these atavistic, limbic, subrational motives, according to Fox, continue to surface in ways that are either a discomfort or a disaster to neat social constructions of modern reality.This book is an attempt at a constructive approach from social and evolutionary science to the law. Fox does this by using four case studies of a deliberately varied nature and discussing their particulars, rather than by preaching a general theoretical position. He tackles Mormon polygamy; the Baby M trials; Sophocles' Antigone, and the problem of the avunculate. The view is anthropological in a highly old fashioned sense. But this is far more than some ethnography of tribal courts, it is rather a search for the universals that connect up the rational search for law and the empirical search of anthropology.