A Contrarian History of Marriage
Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781582341194, 272pp.
Publication Date: July 22, 2008
A provocative survey of marriage and what it has meant for society, politics, religion, and the home.
For ten thousand years, marriage and the idea of marriage has been at the very foundation of human society. In this provocative and ambitious book, Susan Squire unravels the turbulent history and many implications of our most basic institution. Starting with the discovery, long before recorded time, that sex leads to paternity (and hence to couplehood), and leading up to the dawn of the modern "love marriage," Squire delves into the many ways men and women have come together and what the state of their unions has meant for history, society, and politics especially the politics of the home.
This book is the product of thirteen years of intense research, but even more than the intellectual scope, what sets it apart is Squire's voice and contrarian boldness. Learned, acerbic, opinionated, and funny, she draws on everything from Sumerian mythology to Renaissance theater to Victorian housewives' manuals (sometimes all at the same time) to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic view of the many things marriage has been and meant. The result is a book to provoke and fascinate readers of all ideological stripes: feminists, traditionalists, conservatives, and progressives alike.
"Wickedly funny...As we head into the presidential election, you may find yourself channeling Squire as you puzzle out your feelings about the Obama [and] McCain marriages..."--New York Times Book Review "Delightful... Squire has a deft touch... More than a few laugh-out-loud moments, [and] filled with fascinating tidbits." --NPR.org
"Fascinating... Valuable insight into an institution that has recently been transformed yet again."--The Boston Globe
"Very amusing...[A] passionate intellectual manifesto."-- Library Journal
“Squire archly reconsiders the disobedient Biblical helpmeet Eve (‘Shouldn’t the buck stop with the senior officer, not the assistant?’), as well as witches, bitches, nymphomaniacs, concubines, clerics, cuckolds, and others … Take this potent, hugely entertaining book to bed.”—O Magazine
“Lively and a pleasure to read”—Kirkus Reviews
"In breezy, irreverent prose, Squire catalogues the history and religious significance of the institution of marriage ....as if gossiping with a girlfriend...."—Publishers Weekly
“A sardonic and delightful romp through the history of conjugality, from day zero on. An illuminating book for those who want to know their history, rather than just repeat it: anyone in a marriage or just contemplating the possibility will want to take notes. Also perfect for couples therapists’ waiting rooms, throwing at your spouse, and Valentine's Day.”—Laura Kipnis
“Written with an incisive wit and an unshowy audaciousness, I Don’t is an absolutely compelling read—a must for anyone, man or woman, who has wondered about the war between the sexes and the truce that is marriage. Steeped as her book is in historical detail, Susan Squire proves herself to be that rare breed: a scholar with a light touch, writing with a deftness and fluency that lifts her comprehensive knowledge and closely informed readings to the level of literature. This is a book that informs while it entertains the reader—a truly original take on its subject.”—Daphne Merkin, author of Enchantment and Dreaming of Hitler