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Review Essay: Danger, Divorce, and Other Family Values Beatrice GottUeb. The Family in the Western World from the Black Death to the Industrial Age. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993. vüi + 309 pp.; ilL ISBN 0-19-507344-4. Lawrence Stone. Uncertain Unions: Marriage in England 1660-1753. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992. xiü + 281 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-19-820253-9. Jeffrey R. Watt. The Making of Modern Marriage: Matrimonial Control and the Rise of Sentiment in Neuchâtel, 1550-1800. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1992. xiii + 302 pp. ISBN 0-8014-2493-3. Merril D. Smith. Breaking the Bonds: Marital Discord in Pennsylvania, 17301830 . New York and London: New York University Press, 1991. xv + 225 pp; tables; ill. ISBN 0-8147-7934-4 (d); O-8147-7980-8 (pb). Frances E. Dolan. Dangerous Familiars: Representations of Domestic Crime in England, 1550-1700. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1994. xiü + 253 pp; ill. ISBN 0-8014-8134-1 (cl); 0-8014-2901-3 (pb). GJ. Barker-Benfield. The Culture of Sensibility: Sex and Society in EighteenthCentury Britain. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1992. xxxiv + 520 pp.; ill. ISBN 0-226-03713. Eüeen Spring. Law, Land, and Family: Aristocratic Inheritance in England 1300 to 1800. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1993.199 pp. ISBN 0-8078-2110-1. Merry E. Wiesner Little did I know when I was asked to write this review a year ago that I would sit down to do it on the day of opening statements of the "Trial of the Century," and that the types of domestic relations traced in many of these books would also be appearing every night on the evening news: battering and perhaps murderous husbands, rebeUious and murdering children, angry and vindictive wives. Indeed, the titles of several of them could easily serve as summaries of the most widelyreported legal cases of 1994-95 in the U.S.; Breaking the Bonds, Uncertain Unions and Dangerous Familiars apply equally well to the Bobbitt, Menendez, and Simpson families as to the families of early modern England and the United States. These parallels create a strange aura of © 1996 Journal of Women's History, Vol. 8 No. 2 (Summer) 160 Journal of Women's History Summer famUiarity as one reads, making the "modern" in Jeffrey Watt's title remarkably appropriate. Though all of these are books which explore aspects of women's Hves Hi early modern Europe and the United States, they differ in a number of ways and may be compared along a number of axes. The Family in the Western World is by far the most basic and the most general, written in a breezy style that makes it easily accessible to most college freshmen. The content as well as the style make this a book for beginning students, as it responds more to their stereotypes about famüies of the past—e.g., that they were large, with extended families HvHig under one roof—than to those of historians famüiar with the field. Gottlieb has done those of us who teach courses in the family a great service by providing a useful overview of a range of developments in family structure, function, and relationships over 400 years. She makes good use of spedfic examples to demonstrate general points, and includes material from aU over Europe. She keeps the reader very cognizant of social and geographic differences, as well as of the Hmits of what can be known about famüies. The book wül be frustrating to many spedalized scholars, however, as it is only Hghtly footnoted and has no specific chapter bibliographies. Thus it is very difficult to check questionable generalizations. These occur with some regularity, such as the statement on page 44 that after the Reformation fathers not only in Protestant countries but "everywhere" read from the Scriptures to their assembled households. The author notes that the general bibhography is not "exhaustive," but some items missing from it that one would expect and that would be good for students to know about, such as the books by Martha Howell, Thomas Safley, Linda...


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