Someday All This Will Be Yours: A History of Inheritance and Old Age

Someday All This Will Be Yours: A History of Inheritance and Old Age

by Hendrik Hartog
     
 

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We all hope that we will be cared for as we age. But the details of that care, for caretaker and recipient alike, raise some of life’s most vexing questions. From the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, as an explosive economy and shifting social opportunities drew the young away from home, the elderly used promises of inheritance to keep children at

Overview

We all hope that we will be cared for as we age. But the details of that care, for caretaker and recipient alike, raise some of life’s most vexing questions. From the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century, as an explosive economy and shifting social opportunities drew the young away from home, the elderly used promises of inheritance to keep children at their side. Hendrik Hartog tells the riveting, heartbreaking stories of how families fought over the work of care and its compensation.

Someday All This Will Be Yours narrates the legal and emotional strategies mobilized by older people, and explores the ambivalences of family members as they struggled with expectations of love and duty. Court cases offer an extraordinary glimpse of the mundane, painful, and intimate predicaments of family life. They reveal what it meant to be old without the pensions, Social Security, and nursing homes that now do much of the work of serving the elderly. From demented grandparents to fickle fathers, from litigious sons to grateful daughters, Hartog guides us into a world of disputed promises and broken hearts, and helps us feel the terrible tangle of love and commitments and money.

From one of the bedrocks of the human condition—the tension between the infirmities of the elderly and the longings of the young—emerges a pioneering work of exploration into the darker recesses of family life. Ultimately, Hartog forces us to reflect on what we owe and are owed as members of a family.

Editorial Reviews

New York Times blog

A page-turner with Dickensian overtones.
— Fred A Bernstein

Choice

Aside from the history of development in this area of law, the book offers a social and cultural history of families caring for their elder members. This book will be of interest not only to those interested in estate law but also students and researchers of gerontology.
— C. Ross

Martha Minow
In this gem of a book, Hartog reveals the human drama of growing old and dependent, and the enduring dilemma in mixing love and economic need.
Dylan Penningroth
Hartog brilliantly illuminates the central role that law has played in shaping Americans' ideas about getting old. Poignant, funny, and analytically razor-sharp, this is a groundbreaking book.
Viviana A. Zelizer
With empathy and captivating style, Hartog, a superb historian, offers a memorable analysis of changing family struggles over inheritance and care.
Amy Dru Stanley
This is a disturbing book, in the best sense--a transformative book. With unique sensitivity and ingenuity, Hartog tells a profound story about the meaning of inheritance and what one owes and is owed as a member of a family, making brilliant history of seemingly eternal human predicaments.
New York Times blog - Fred A Bernstein
A page-turner with Dickensian overtones.
Choice - C. Ross
Aside from the history of development in this area of law, the book offers a social and cultural history of families caring for their elder members. This book will be of interest not only to those interested in estate law but also students and researchers of gerontology.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674046887
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
01/15/2012
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.30(d)

What People are saying about this

Dylan Penningroth
Hartog brilliantly illuminates the central role that law has played in shaping Americans' ideas about getting old. Poignant, funny, and analytically razor-sharp, this is a groundbreaking book.
Dylan Penningroth, author of The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South
Martha Minow
In this gem of a book, Hartog reveals the human drama of growing old and dependent, and the enduring dilemma in mixing love and economic need.
Martha Minow, Dean, Harvard Law School
Amy Dru Stanley
This is a disturbing book, in the best sense--a transformative book. With unique sensitivity and ingenuity, Hartog tells a profound story about the meaning of inheritance and what one owes and is owed as a member of a family, making brilliant history of seemingly eternal human predicaments.
Amy Dru Stanley, author of From Bondage to Contract: Wage Labor, Marriage, and the Market in the Age of Slave Emancipation
Viviana A. Zelizer
With empathy and captivating style, Hartog, a superb historian, offers a memorable analysis of changing family struggles over inheritance and care.
Viviana A. Zelizer, author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

Meet the Author

Hendrik Hartog is Class of 1921 Bicentennial Professor in the History of American Law and Liberty at Princeton University.

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