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The Mansion of Happiness review - Jill Lepore

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CULTURAL SHIFTS Lepore explores changing cultural constructs about life and death and their implications for modern society in this analysis-heavy read

The Mansion of Happiness

type:
Book
Current Status:
In Season
author:
67642
publisher:
Knopf
genre:
Nonfiction

We gave it an A

Named after the Victorian-era board game that inspired ? Milton Bradley’s LIFE, this ? fascinating book explores a few centuries’ worth of ideas about life and death — you know, just a light beach read. But for all its analysis of Darwin and Aristotle, The Mansion of Happiness is a lot of fun. Riffing on everything from breast pumps to cryogenics, New Yorker writer Lepore shows how our concepts of birth, youth, middle age, and old age have changed with cultural shifts like industrialization and feminism, leading us to view our lives as less circular (”ashes to ashes”) and more linear. As a storyteller, she’s always engaging, even surprising: At one point, she suggests that the 1920s birth control movement fueled modern conservatism. As for her take on childhood, well, you’ll never read Stuart Little the same way again. A

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