Royal weddings, a campaign for toilets in India linked to marriage, and trash-the-dress photo shoots (a new U.S. custom) are introduced in this whirlwind tour of courtship, marriage, and divorce.
Using catchy chapter headings (“Control Freaks” focuses on the historical, political, and economic reasons for marriage), this slim volume offers a cursory glance at marriage in many religions, the ancient world, and some contemporary cultures, primarily the U.S. and Great Britain. China, Japan, and India are mentioned, while most European cultures are lumped together. The chapter on polygamy, “More Ways Than One,” starts off highlighting Zulu traditions with Jacob Zuma, the South African president with four current wives. Scant information about Latin America, the Middle East, and the Pacific region appears. Same-sex marriage and interfaith and interracial marriage are covered in “Forbidden Love,” which starts with celebrity couples such as David Bowie and Iman (white and black, Christian and Muslim) and Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka (two men). The legal struggles for interracial marriage (1967 Loving v. Virginia) and same-sex marriage (2015 Obergefell v. Hodges) are summarized, but the last sentence of the chapter again refers back to famous couples. This celebrity approach and such sections as “Over-the-Top Weddings,” along with references to YouTube and Vimeo, seem meant to ensure teen interest. Photographs (mostly in color) are clear and relevant. Readers can tease out interesting takes on feminism and women’s history. Some self-help sidebars on dating and relationships are generalized and superfluous.
An up-to-date if not in-depth introduction to a topic that has certainly affected many people’s lives throughout the ages. (source notes, glossary, selected bibliography, further information, index) (Nonfiction. 13-16)