This heavily anecdotal, occasionally touching and exasperatingly uneven
collection of meditations surveys the Book of Proverbs, the venerable
aphorisms of Hebrew scripture, as an extended lesson in character development.
The reader will come away with a helpful sense of the range of topics covered
by the ancient Proverbs writers, who were capable of comforting clarity about
what happens to fools and evildoers and also of caustic observations about
money management (and mismanagement) that could be ripped from today's
financial pages. Drawing on sources as diverse as his immediate family, Calvin
Coolidge and the rock group the Eagles, Lang portrays Proverbs as a collection
of fundamental lessons in morality that need to be relearned in each
generation. Although Lang, a well-established author and former book editor,
is clearly well versed in European and American history, he sometimes descends
to gross generalizations, e.g., "the main reason that so many cities today
are hellish places to live is that so many of the inhabitants have no
self-control." Some will be amused, and some probably annoyed, by the writer's
fondness for Confederate General "Stonewall" Jackson and the 16th-century
Scottish Protestant firebrand John Knox. Lang's essays are often powerful,
occasionally incisive and more often than not instructive. Like the other
books in the "101 Most Powerful" series (previous installments have explored
biblical prayers and promises), each brief meditation closes with a resolution
for readers; some of these are useful, some close to silly. (Jan. 21)
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