Monday, April 22, 2013

The Mansion of Happiness by Jill Lepore ***

The Mansion of Happiness by Jill Lepore is a wonderful little book of essays on different stages life from conception to death.

I particularly recommend the chapter on children's libraries and literature. Evidently Stuart Little by E B White was denied even a mention for the Newberry Award because of its controversial first sentence,
When Mrs Frederick C Little's second son was born, everybody noticed that he was not much bigger than a mouse. The truth of the matter was, the baby looked very much like a mouse in every way.
Later editions responded to the criticism by changing the word "born" to "arrived."

I love books of rambling biographical anecdotes and historical trivia. For example, Kleenex was to remove makeup until they realized people were using it to blow their noses. Since the author is a Harvard History professor and a New Yorker Staff writer this should have been one of my favorites.

However, as the book unfolded, I became overwhelmed with its political agenda. If your favorite conspiracy theory to explain the political problems of the last 50 years (in the US) is the Nixon Southern Strategy, then this is the book for you.

No comments: