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Happiness : a history
Darrin McMahon
Adult Nonfiction BJ1481 .M46 2005

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Before the contemporary onslaught of therapeutic treatments and self-help guidance, the very idea of happiness in this life was virtually unknown. In this eminently readable work, McMahon (Enemies of Enlightenment) looks back through 2,000 years of thought, searching for evidence of how our contemporary obsession came to be. From the tragic plays of ancient Greece to the inflammatory rhetoric of Rousseau and Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, McMahon delves deeply into the rich trove of texts that elucidate and confirm the development of Western notions of this elusive ideal. In one particularly rousing section, he highlights the breakthrough thinking of German theologian and religious revolutionary Martin Luther. Locked in self-imposed exile in the Augustine Black Monastery in Wittenberg, Luther struggled with a God who punished sinners, then realized that man is "justified-made just, not punished with justice..." and that this life was one to be lived, that man must "drink more, engage in sports and recreation, aye, even sin a little" in order to be happy. Throughout McMahon leads the reader with strong, clear thinking, laying out his ideas with grace, both challenging and entertaining us in equal measure. Agent, Tina Bennett. (Jan.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Utilizing an abundance of sources-e.g., art and architecture, music and theology, literature and myth-McMahon (history, Florida State Univ.; Enemies of the Enlightenment) traces the transformation of the concept of happiness through more than 2000 years of Western thought. The book is divided into two parts: Part 1 details the evolution of happiness from Greek and Roman schools of philosophy (e.g., Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, Epicureanism) to the Enlightenment, paying particular attention to the development of happiness as part of religious (particularly Christian) teachings; Part 2 marches into more modern thought, including skepticism, liberalism, Darwinism, German idealism, communism, and Freudian contemplations. Filled with ample and provoking commentary, this work keeps the reader engaged and makes valuable contributions to the concept of happiness with each successive chapter. Considering the range of information found in this book, it is highly recommended for both public and academic library systems.-Jason Moore, Madison Cty. Lib. Syst., MS (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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