04 June 2012

The Game of Life, the Universe, and Everything

This weekend the Boston Globe reviewed Jill Lepore’s The Mansion of Happiness, an examination of American life and values through board games—particularly the game Life itself.

Reviewer Buzzy Jackson wrote:
Lepore, a staff writer at The New Yorker and a professor of American history at Harvard who has written about the intellectual and political history of Colonial and 19th-century America, isn’t really interested in board games. Instead, she wants to know what [Milton] Bradley’s game can tell us about American values and aspirations. As in the game of Life, each chapter takes the reader a little further along the path of human development. . . .

The marriage chapter examines the life and work of Paul Popenoe, famous for posing the eternal question, “Can this marriage be saved?” The oddly contentious story behind E.B. White’s story, “Stuart Little,” makes up the chapter on childhood, and Lepore dismantles the myth of Taylorized efficiency in “Happiness Minutes,” the chapter on working.
Now did Lepore actually start her investigations and ruminations with board games, or did she realize that Bradley’s Life provided a structure to unite essays on several disparate concerns?

Lepore will speak about this book and the history of American board games, with pictures, at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester on 5 June at 7:30. This illustrated lecture is free and open to the public.

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Speaking of the Game of Life, have you seen this yet? http://www.collegehumor.com/article/6774819/honest-game-of-life