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Academic Books & Book Chapters

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Orphans: A History

Jeremy Seabrook


Orphans have often been beneficiaries of charity and compassion--but society has also punished, abused and ill-treated them. Attitudes behind this maltreatment are rooted in ideas that those without parents are disruptive, malevolent, and in need of discipline. Drawing on historic documents, interviews and memoirs, Jeremy Seabrook charts history's changing and often loose definitions of "orphans," and explores their many "makers"--from natural or man-made catastrophes to the State, charity, and other social forces that have separated children, especially the poor, from their close kin.But this history is not only one of suffering: Orphans also reveals the uncounted millions taken in and loved by relatives, neighbors or strangers. Freed from constraints and driven by insecurity, many orphans--including Nelson Mandela, Marilyn Monroe and Steve Jobs--have led remarkable lives.

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