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Of Time, Work, and Leisure

4.4 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0527221010
ISBN-10: 0527221015
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 548 pages
  • Publisher: Periodicals Service Co (June 1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0527221015
  • ISBN-13: 978-0527221010
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,775,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 26, 2002
Format: Paperback
What is the ultimate goal of a society? Two possible answers are: Work and Leisure. The goal of current US culture appears to be work, at least for the majority of people. Why shouldn't it be leisure instead?
This book, written in the very early 1960s, is still relevant today for the questions it asks, which are very neglected but of utmost importance, viz., is the "good life" solely constituted of work? This question is analyzed from a 1960s perspective so it is, sadly, fairly dated in that respect (though it is interesting in its analysis of how people spent leisure time four decades ago). The book is also a little plodding, and the argument is presented in a very disjointed and sometimes overly statistical fashion. I had to literally struggle through some of the later chapters. Nonetheless, the issues are still very relevant, and the questions De Grazia asks are still worth asking today (in fact, they may be more pressing today than they were in the 1960s).
The book does include a good historical survey of how the world has looked at leisure since the time of Aristotle. This is how the book begins, and it is completely engrossing for the first few chapters. De Grazia discusses the sticky issues surrounding leisure and slavery in a society, and outlines a history of how we have been gradually progressing "toward the work society."
This could easily have been a book in itself. Unfortunately, the book begins to drag later on. It gets bogged down in details and hard to follow arguments that contrast strongly with the book's beginning. There is, nonetheless, plenty to sink one's teeth into as the book's pace slows (the pace never stops, and it never becomes outright boring, it just doesn't maintain its momentum).
You will not get answers to any difficult questions in this book. What you will get is insight into the issues raised. In short, it is a rewarding but arduous read.
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I agree with his review almost entirely. I teach a course on the good life, work, and leisure. I use the book Working Life by Joanne Ciulla. Overall, its a more accessible read but some of my Freshman still have a bit of a hard time with it. Ciulla references this book and I had time to read it this summer. I can certainly see how this book may have stimulated her thinking. I really like deGrazia's depth on the cultural shifts that occurred since the Greeks and especially his perspective on how we lost the way so thoroughly in the US. But reading it is a bit of a slog and it is showing its age now in terms of understanding the current culture of work and leisure. I'd also recommend another book by Lee Hardy, The Fabric of This World, for another perspective a bit more based in the shifts created by organized religion.
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Format: Paperback
If you look at Van Gogh's My Room at Arles wondering why you wish your life were that simple... here's a 500 page explanation. It's a little hard to follow at times, often out of focus and it ends in poorly justified optimism. I'd be surprised if it helped anybody figure out whether mankind is moving forward or backward. Yet, the issue is essential in the USA, at least for those still struggling to understand the rhythms of this country. Of course, the book has a wider and deeper scope (geographically and otherwise) but you'll find you can apply its thoroughly documented (i.e., based on facts, figures, statistics and historical trends) logic to your own little world... (Where little is not used derogatorily. Non multa sed multum.) Finally, unforgivable as it may be, here's a quote that could come from this book but it doesn't: "the average American should be portrayed as a victim of the advertising and marketing industry, which has suckered him into buying a lot of junk that he doesn't need and that is very poor compensation for his lost freedom". If you know who wrote the above, you'll agree that this book's ending revery is completely pardonable.
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As a graduate student I was required to read this book. I was amazed at how relevant it is, even 50 years after it was written. De Grazia's points of time and the clock are fascinating and made me truly think about how I spend my time and leisure.
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five stars
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