In this provocative study the author challenges many contemporary assumptions about the modern family, the circumstances of home life which lead to academic success and the proper relationship between home and school. The modern family is not ‘in decline’; its history is a success story. It is stable, unsociable, emotionally potent. Over the past three centuries it has turned its back on society. It is less remarkable for rebellious children than for the remorseless pressures it can exert upon the young, particularly for ‘success’ in the school system.