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I Don't: A Contrarian History of Marriage Hardcover – Bargain Price, July 22, 2008


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Hardcover, Bargain Price, July 22, 2008
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1st edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582341192
  • ASIN: B0046LUUZ4
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,080,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In breezy, irreverent prose, Squire (The Slender Balance) catalogues the history and religious significance of the institution of marriage from Adam and Eve to the Renaissance and beyond. Writing as if gossiping with a girlfriend, Squire argues that marriage was developed to establish paternity by controlling the sex life of women. We learn that the men of Athens had hetaera (courtesans) to entertain them, concubines for their daily need and wives with whom to breed legitimate children; the women of Rome, on the other hand, learned how to use their power to threaten male rule of society. The New Testament offers equality to husband and wife, at least in the marriage bed; the association of lust with Eve's original sin can be attributed to Augustine. Squire explores sixth-century penitentials on sexual sins, adultery in the Middle Ages and the intersection of wife and witch during the Renaissance inquisitions. Readers are left questioning whether our modern idea of love matches might end up as a chapter in a future book about the incarnations of marriage. Love may not be the answer, but for now, it is the story. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"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


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Customer Reviews

The author seemed very ultra feminist man hating in some of her side rants.
Karen Brown
It's a fantastic gift for all your single friends, or an anniversary gift for those who've already taken the plunge.
Rose Paulsen
Squire takes the reader on an historic tour of the one of civilization's most confounding institutions - marriage.
Linda R. Ziskind

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer Cipriano on August 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Susan Squire's I Don't, A Contrarian History of Marriage is an intelligent and playful history of an institution we're all captivated by in one way or another but know little about. Her writing is funny and outrageous because it's true. Squire imparts the horrendous ways every western society--Greeks, Romans, Christians--treated women. But I Don't is hardly a diatribe against marriage or men. Squire is not out for vengeance. Instead, she tells the story of why and how society became organized into couples and families. And this honest investigation thereby helps to ease the pain of the impossible conundrum of marriage by putting the personal into a political and historical context. We're not alone, we don't live in a vacuum. I Don't is a powerful book.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David L. Weltman on July 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A research product that is fascinating and memorable. The author does a sardonic job on the Old and New Testaments in examining the routes of males on top as a biblical command! Especially interesting is her cross-examination of the Genesis story with Adam, Eve, the Serpent and Him as
putative witnesses on the "stand". Her chapter on the virgin birth is uniquely well-documented. The story flows to Martin Luther and the religious re-acceptance of marriage without female authority. Looking forward to the sequel from Luther to modern times when relationships change dramatically at least in the Western world.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Johnson on August 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A fantastic, original, and entertaining read. Considering all the horrifying events Squire covers, from plagues to witch burnings, it's amazing how many times she made me laugh. A fresh and provocative look at how western civilization and religion have shaped contemporary mating. I can't believe I got married without knowing all this.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Heather F on May 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book, although it's a bit dry in parts, it's also funny and informative. Much of her material was covered in Stephanie Coontz History of Marriage. But this book is more readable, tho less informative. Both authors do a great job and show us the humor involved in trying to define "traditional marriage." Well Done.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob Fitzgibbon on October 19, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I Don't is Susan Squire's deliciously cynical and caustic take on the institution of marriage, written with cutting insights and sardonic wit. Contrary to the idealized take that marriage is an unchanging institution, feminine apogee and guarantor of social stability, Squires points out that the specifics of marriage have varied widely in Western civilization and that perhaps the only constant ever since the Garden of Eden is that the woman partner gets the shaft in more ways than one (spoiler alert: Eve was framed).

Squires does a good job documenting the Madonna/Whore complex in Classical Greece and the important influence of Martin Luther on the modern idea of marriage as a romantic union. Who knows where this love train may lead us next, but I Don't is an interesting take on where marriage has been.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Emma on May 13, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book is worth reading, and the good parts of it (adequately summarized by other reviewers) are truly impeccable. But I must take umbrage with a few things.

- First of all, the title is certainly catchy, but not a fair representation of the content. Which could better be described as "A Brief Survey of Western Marriage in Select Societies from Biblical Times to Martin Luther." To frame western history as "History" is rather unbelievable at this moment in said history.

And the cover image is an odd gimmick.

- It ends about five chapters short. Squire essentially concludes: Martin Luther changed the value of wedlock, now people get married for romance, The End. What a bitter disappointment. With a book like this a reader commits to the more mundane pieces expecting a payoff in the end: How does this apply to the world I know? What does all this dazzling historical detail say about debates on gay marriage on the Senate floor?

... Silence ...

Not even a prologue to suggest maybe a few things have changed between 1546 and 2008, or how striking it is some of our parliamentarians sound a lot like those in 80 A.D.

- Reviewers are dubbing this a feminist text but I disagree. Historical, yes. Feminist? Not really. It is also called "funny" and that rather points to the problem. Yes, ascerbic wit is a fitting approach to misogynist texts. But the tone does not change with other material, such as what reads to me the very sad story of Margery Kemp, and also a brief and glossed over treatment of the witch trials.

At which point the writing really betrays the tragedy. The tragedy is not lost on me: I had to read this book in small pieces to be able to consume it at all.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Delaney Faulk on December 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
There are great history books and great "reads" -- few manage to be both. Squire is a thorough researcher and very wry writer - which must explain how she managed to be scholarly and entertaining at the same time.

If you have any interest in knowing how the whole institution of marriage came about, and why it's so screwed up, I suggest you buy this book. Even if you don't, you'll enjoy the amazing stories about everyone from St. Augustine to Jesus and Jezebel.
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