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January 02 , 2010

The Wonderbox: Curious histories of how to live


There are many ways to try to improve our lives - we can turn to the wisdom of philosophers, the teachings of religions or the latest experiments of psychologists. But we rarely to look to history for inspiration - and when we do it can be surprisingly powerful. Showing the lessons that can be learned from the past, cultural historian Roman Krznaric explores twelve universal topics, from work and love to money and creativity, and reveals the wisdom that we've been missing. There is much to be learned from Ancient Greece on relationships, from the industrial revolution on job satisfaction, and from Ming-dynasty China on bringing up our children. Just as a Renaissance 'Wunderkammer' was a curiosity cabinet full of fascinating objects, each with a story behind it, The Wonderbox is full of stories and ideas from history, each of which sheds invaluable light on the decisions we make every day, whether we think about the different uses of the senses or changing attitudes to time. History is usually read for pleasure or for insight into current affairs, but The Wonderbox, stepping into the territory of Alain de Botton and Theodore Zeldin, is 'practical history' - using the past to think about our day to day lives.
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