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Barbara Caine: Friendship: A history

Book Review by Yuri van Hoef

Equinox Publishing Ltd, 2009, pp. 415
ISBN-13 978 184553 (hardback), 978 184553 197 3 (paperback)

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van Hoef, Y. (2015) Review of Friendship: A history, by Barbara Caine (ed.). AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 3:1, pp. 60-62. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/17


Friendship: A History is an important monograph that offers students of friendship a good entry point into this ambiguous subject. It is skilfully edited by Barbara Caine, currently Head of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry at the University of Sydney. The inquiry of the subject is also both from a historical and philosophical perspective, and the scholars that have contributed to the edited volume set out to analyse the major classical texts on friendship, and the changing role of friendship throughout (Western) history. It is an ambitious volume, setting out to analyse roughly 2500 years of history in 415 pages. Early on, the authors indicate that this means they will not cover every period in depth, but rather that they have focused on key themes that illustrate patterns of continuity and change (p.xiv). However, that concession proves to be unnecessary; even by limiting their focus the authors have succeeded in offering a good history of western friendship.

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