This is a story, rather than a history, of the customs surrounding the institution of marriage. In a reasonably straightforward way but without neglecting the humorous aspects of his subject the author deals with various customs of marriage in the past and present, using his title as a pivotal and central symbol. He discusses the trials and pleasures of choosing a mate in different cultures and in various stages of civilization; the habits of courtship through the ages; the forms of wedding ceremony and its preparation; the practices involved in the consummation of marriage; and the stages of human relationship in marriage -- from the tyrannical to the practical to the romantic. Some of the customs Braddock describes are in the realm of the barbaric, others have great charm, and some simply seem foolish. But regardless of the author's attitude toward the phenomena he is describing he is continuously interesting. His book is written with considerable wit supported by a substantial amount of research.