From Publishers Weekly
In the final book in a collaborative series between the New York Public Library and Oxford University Press on the seven deadly sins, Dyson examines pride in its many iterations, invoking pop culture icons and events to lend accessibility to a potentially didactic subject. (Francine Prose wrote earlier of gluttony, Wendy Wasserstein of sloth...) "If pride is a sin," Dyson writes, "it is no ordinary sin, to be sure." Indeed, Dyson, a prolific author, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an ordained Baptist minister, takes his time in explicating the virtues and dangers of pride. Although an initial chapter on the "philosophical and religious roots of pride" proves less than engaging, Dyson's discussions of "personal pride," "white pride," "black pride" and "national pride" are thoughtful and exhibit a fine balance of scholarship and philosophizing. In the black pride section, the book's liveliest, Dyson (Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?) talks about political figures such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and the effects they do and do not have on the black electorate. He analyzes Halle Berry's and Denzel Washington's acceptance speeches at the 2002 Academy Awards, concluding one was "brave," the other "cool." Readers already familiar with the "sins" series will welcome this final volume, as will those interested in issues of race.
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In this final part of a series on the seven deadly sins sponsored by Oxford and the New York Public Library, Dyson, in his distinct style, examines the sin of pride. Dyson posits Aristotle's notion of "proper pride," reflective more of virtue when used as a shield for survival, as reflected in a black man's struggle in America. However, the form of pride that "precedes the fall" is reflected in the practices of some black elites who are cold and condescending to the less fortunate. The nation's pride, however, especially post-9/11, provokes great trepidation for Dyson, who fears that patriotism is viewed too narrowly and truth is deflected by hysterical distortion that denies foreign policy vices.^B Dyson moves from pride as a vice on the human plane to pride as a sin in the sacred realm. He admonishes fundamentalists, whose rigid perceptions of right and wrong carry a tinge of hubris. This is an excellent essay on pride in its various dimensions. Vernon FordCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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