The Pursuit of Happiness

By Howard Mumford Jones,

Book cover of The Pursuit of Happiness

Book description

Number seven in the William W. Cook Foundation Lectures at the University of Michigan. Presented in January, 1952.

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Pursuit of Happiness as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is an older book that traces the development of the American definition of happiness from the founding of the nation until the mid-twentieth century. Jones carefully illustrates that happiness transformed from a collective political concept to an individual moral entitlement. His reading of self-help texts shows that earlier Americans tried to achieve happiness by learning to conform themselves to the obligations imposed on them by others outside the self. In contrast, Jones’ investigation shows that the modern understanding of happiness demands individual liberation from the expectations of others, a feat achieved by listening to the internal desires of…

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