Happiness: A History

Front Cover
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006 - History - 544 pages
17 Reviews
Darrin M. McMahon's sweeping new book, chronicling the evolution of happiness over two thousand years of Western culture and thought, argues that our modern belief in happiness -- that happiness is a natural right -- is a relatively recent development. It is a product of a dramatic revolution in human expectations carried out since the eighteenth century. Central to the development of Christianity, ideas of happiness assumed their modern form during the Enlightenment, when men and women were first introduced to the novel prospect that they could -- in fact should -- be happy in this life as opposed to the hereafter. Ultimately, the Enlightenment's recognition of happiness as a motivating ideal led to its consecration in the Declaration of Independence and France's Declaration of the Rights of Man. McMahon follows this great pursuit through to the present day, showing how our modern search for happiness continues to generate new forms of pleasure, but also, paradoxically, new forms of pain. In the tradition of works by Peter Gay and Simon Schama, "Happiness" draws on numerous sources, including art and architecture, poetry and scripture, music and theology, literature and myth to offer a sweeping intellectual history of man's most elusive yet coveted goal.

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I loved the ending li - Goodreads
Very researched, interestingly presented and nuanced. - Goodreads
Good for factoids, but not for philosophizing. - Goodreads

Review: Happiness: A History

User Review  - Annie Primera - Goodreads

Really interesting and thorough work. The concepts are presented clearly but not too simply. There is enough food for thought in this book to keep the mind busy for a good, long, while, but in the end ... Read full review

Review: Happiness: A History

User Review  - Kay - Goodreads

It's extremely challenging to undertake a topic as broad as happiness and what human thought has been from Socrates up to the present time. For the various schools of thought in this area from ... Read full review

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About the author (2006)

Darrin M. McMahon is currently a professor at Florida State University.

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