Marriage, a History Book Summary - Marriage, a History Book explained in key points
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Marriage, a History summary

Stephanie Coontz

How Love Conquered Marriage

4.2 (36 ratings)
15 mins

Brief summary

Marriage, a History by Stephanie Coontz is a non-fiction book that traces the evolution of marital traditions across different cultures and time periods. It challenges traditional views and presents a nuanced understanding of current day relationships.

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    Marriage, a History
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    Marriage was initially a way of establishing kinship.

    Imagine marrying someone you don’t truly love. A frightening thought, right? Indeed, most of us would say that love must exist before marriage can take place.  

    Historically, this is a rather recent development. In fact, for thousands of years, love had little to do with marriage.

    In medieval Europe, for example, when people talked about “love,” they weren’t talking about married couples. Rather, “love” was something reserved for God, kin or neighbors.

    And in India, falling in love was once even considered dangerous. Romantic love was viewed as antisocial, an emotion that could lead people to make irrational decisions and challenge the authority of the family.

    So if marriage wasn’t about mutual love between two individuals, what was it about? Why invent marriage at all?

    The answer may sound strange to modern ears: marriage was a means of establishing kinship. But why was this something that people wanted to do in the first place?

    Well, our hunter-gatherer ancestors were nomadic travelers, constantly searching for food. In this search, they would sometimes stumble upon strange and potentially hostile groups and a fight would break out.

    Such fights could be avoided, however, if the bands made peace instead of threatening one another. They figured that one of the easiest ways to establish a reliable connection between the bands was to marry a member of one group to a member of the other.  

    Through intermarriage, complete strangers (and even enemies) could be transformed into relatives, thus establishing kinships that helped guarantee peace. With this in mind, it makes sense that the old Anglo-Saxon word for “wife” meant "peace weaver."

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    What is Marriage, a History about?

    Marriage, a History (2005) covers the history of the institution of marriage, from its genesis in the Stone Age to its recent crisis.

    Marriage, a History Review

    Marriage, a History (2005) by Stephanie Coontz explores the evolution of marriage and its influence on society throughout history. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • With a meticulous research approach, Coontz presents a wealth of historical evidence that uncovers the true nature of marriage, challenging common misconceptions.
    • The book offers a thought-provoking analysis of how marriage has transformed and adapted over time, shedding light on the complex dynamics of this institution.
    • By delving into cross-cultural perspectives, the book broadens our understanding of marriage, highlighting the diverse ways in which different societies have structured and perceived it.

    Best quote from Marriage, a History

    For centuries, marriage did much of the work that markets and governments do today.

    —Stephanie Coontz
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    Who should read Marriage, a History?

    • People interested in social history and women’s studies
    • Couples considering marriage
    • Proponents of “traditional” marriage

    About the Author

    Stephanie Coontz is an author, social historian and professor at Evergreen State College. She also serves as the Director of Research and Public Education for the Council on Contemporary Families, and has published several other books on family issues and gender, including The Way We Never Were.

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    Marriage, a History FAQs 

    What is the main message of Marriage, a History?

    Marriage, a History explores the evolving role of marriage throughout human civilization.

    How long does it take to read Marriage, a History?

    The reading time for Marriage, a History varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Marriage, a History a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Marriage, a History is a thought-provoking exploration of marriage's past and its implications for the future. Worth a read!

    Who is the author of Marriage, a History?

    Marriage, a History was written by Stephanie Coontz.

    What to read after Marriage, a History?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Marriage, a History, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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