The Mansion of Happiness

The Mansion of Happiness

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Renowned Harvard scholar and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has composed a strikingly original, ingeniously conceived, and beautifully crafted history of American ideas about life and death from before the cradle to beyond the grave. How does life begin? What does it mean? What happens when we die? a€œAll anyone can do is ask, a€ Lepore writes. a€œThat's why any history of ideas about life and death has to be, like this book, a history of curiosity.a€ Lepore starts that history with the story of a seventeenth-century Englishman who had the idea that all life begins with an egg and ends it with an American who, in the 1970s, began freezing the dead. In between, life got longer, the stages of life multiplied, and matters of life and death moved from the library to the laboratory, from the humanities to the sciences. Lately, debates about life and death have determined the course of American politics. Each of these debates has a history. Investigating the surprising origins of the stuff of everyday lifea€”from board games to breast pumpsa€”Lepore argues that the age of discovery, Darwin, and the Space Age turned ideas about life on earth topsy-turvy. a€œNew worlds were found, a€ she writes, and a€œold paradises were lost.a€ As much a meditation on the present as an excavation of the past, The Mansion of Happiness is delightful, learned, and altogether beguiling.The fi rst was opened after then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi pushed for a pumping station in a room in the basement of the Capitol Building. ... giving out manual pumps: plastic, one-breast-at-a-time gizmos that work like a cross between a straw and a bicycle pump. ... baby showers; the Medela Pump In Style Metro Modela€”a€œthe CEO of breast pumpsaquot;a€”was a particular rage; you could pick one upanbsp;...

Title:The Mansion of Happiness
Author:Jill Lepore
Publisher:Vintage - 2012-06-05


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