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Book: Humility

Today’s book addresses one of the classic questions: can you write a book on humility and not be arrogant for doing so?

History is one of the greatest teachers of virtue, and biography a specialist in that field. In his work Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue, David J. Bobb hands the classroom over to this great teacher. Bobb finds a need for a lesson in humility and presents his case here.

Wisely, Bobb does not attempt to himself as the epitome of humility. Neither does he argue the concepts from a vacuum. Rather, he takes the reader through the lives of great people from history to enlighten us.

Before going into the five figures examined, Bobb first examines how Benjamin Franklin pursued humility. He widens Franklin’s pursuit of humility to point out how the Founders of our nation saw the need for humility to weave into the warp and woof of our nation.

Humility’’s chapter on Jesus and Socrates was particularly interesting to me. These two are often mentioned together, and Bobb contrasted their lives well. He then went on to examine how the preaching of Jesus on humility has endured better than Socrates’ views on pride, though both still contend for our affection.

The five mini-biographies come from two periods in American History. The first three are from the Founding Era, the others from the Abolition/Civil War Era. Humility brings George Washington, James Madison, and Abigail Adams from the era of our national beginning.

I found Madison’s biography the most enlightening of the three, thought that’s likely due to ignorance of his character. I knew he lived and was the Father of the Constitution, but little else. Abigail Adams I have read more about, and Washington is certainly well known.

Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln represent the Civil War and Abolition Era in our nation. Their stories are familiar to me, but it was enlightening to see how Bobb drew out lessons in humility specifically.

It is quite obvious on reading Humility that Bobb favors a Christian worldview, and this is certainly pleasing to me. If you would rather draw ethics from a source alien to that idea, you’ll dislike this book.

In all, this book gives a quick glance at biographical history to make a point. You’ll profit even more by looking through the recommended readings and broadening your knowledge. It is truly a shame that good book like this one is hampered by the publisher’s use of Endnotes over Footnotes—someday I’m going to bill a book maker for the papercuts I get from their Endnotes.

I received a copy of this book free through Booksneeze. Search their website for details.

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