Books: Escape to Privacy

CENTURIES OF CHILDHOOD (447 pp.)—Philippe Aries—Knopf ($8.50).

A man of the Middle Ages, dropped into the modern world, might gape at the jets and TV sets. But what would really set him back on his heels is the attitude of the modern family toward its children.

For if no culture in history has been so child-centered as the Spock-marked society of contemporary America, few have been so careless of their children as that of medieval Europe. How Western man moved from then to now is the subject of this rich piece of French scholarship by Social Historian Philippe Aries.

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