An Economy of Regard
SOMEDAY ALL THIS WILL BE YOURS:
A History of Inheritance and Old Age.
By Hendrik Hartog.
Harvard Univ. Press. 353 pp. $29.95
The story behind Hendrik Hartog’s important new book sounds almost like the setup to a joke: What does a Princeton legal historian do when he visits his 91-year-old mother for a month? Spend alternating days shuttling between Mom, who lives in a retirement community in San Mateo, California, and the New Jersey Miscellany, an “obscure and unofficial series of New Jersey case volumes” unearthed in the law library at the University of California, Berkeley.
Hartog discovered a cluster of New Jersey cases spanning the mid-19th to mid-20th centuries, chronicling disputes that arose when older people used promises of inheritance to cajole younger ones, usually their adult children, into caring for them. The resulting book, Someday All This Will Be Yours, explores arrangements that preceded the multibillion-dollar enterprise we now call family caregiving.
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Marie-Therese Connolly is a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center, director of the nonprofit Life Long Justice initiative, and a 2011 MacArthur Foundation fellow.more from this author >>