For 10,000 years, marriage - and the idea of marriage -- has been at the very foundation of human society. In this provocative and ambitious book, Susan Squire unravels the turbulent history and many implications of our most basic institution. Starting with the discovery, long before recorded time, that sex leads to paternity (and hence to couplehood), and leading up to the dawn of the modern "love marriage," Squire delves into the many ways men and women have come together and what the state of their unions has meant for history, society, and politics - especially the politics of the home.This book is the product of 13 years of intense research, but even more than the intellectual scope, what sets it apart is Squire's voice and contrarian boldness. Learned, acerbic, opinionated, and funny, she draws on everything from Sumerian mythology to Renaissance theater to Victorian housewife's manuals (sometimes all at the same time) to create a vivid, kaleidoscopic view of the many things marriage has been and has meant. The result is a book that will provoke and fascinate readers of all ideological stripes: feminists, traditionalists, conservatives and progressives alike.