Letters to Lily on how the world works

Author(s): Alan MacFarlane

Essays & Anthologies

What is love? Why are families so difficult? How do we get justice? How well does democracy work? Who is God? What makes us individuals? Why are we here in the first place? Alan Macfarlane is an anthropologist; Lily his inquisitive daughter, constantly asks him tricky questions about how the world works. In this highly original book he has decided to provide her with some answers in a series of thirty frank and unpretentious letters. In responding to Lily's challenging problems, Alan Macfarlane tackles the great questions in life, drawing on his experience as anthropologist, historian and teacher. His answers range through history and across the world's cultures, from the personal to the philosophical to the political. Lily's questions are timeless. The answers add up to a classic. First published 2005. About the Author : Alan Macfarlane trained as a historian and is Professor of Anthropology at Cambridge. His many books include 2003's The Glass Bathyscaphe.


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'A real tour de force. It is a guide to the whole of history and ethnography and encapsulates the historical philosophy of its author in a bewitchingly simple way' Keith Thomas, author of Religion and the Decline of Magic and Man and the Natural World 'A sweeping tour d'horizon ... deep-thinking, wide-ranging essays on identity and society couched in simple, sturdy prose ... charming.' Boyd Tonkin, Independent 'One of the most perceptive writers we have' Paul Barker, Evening Standard

Alan Macfarlane is Professor of Anthropology at Cambridge. He has often visited and taught in Japan.

General Fields

  • : 9781861977809
  • : Profile Books Ltd
  • : Profile Books Ltd
  • : January 2006
  • : United Kingdom
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Alan MacFarlane
  • : Paperback
  • : 828.914
  • : 320