52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Modern life and human nature, 3 Feb. 2005
This book is divided into two sections: the first defining the problem the second possible solutions
The first section is a compelling analysis of the human condition and how our (modern) world plays upon our predisposition and fears. The second section, while equally well reasoned took me to where I could see dry land but left me stranded on a sand bar. It offers no new solutions but only the consolations of philosophy politics religion or non-conformity. In short de Botton concedes that we are captive to our often punishing assessment of ourselves as handed to us by society and faced with that, perhaps the best we can do is to change the way we consider that assessment - to change one value system for another more humane.
Having said that, these solutions are solutions and certainly well worth considering, however I suspect that the type of person who buys this book may have covered much of this ground already.
I don't wish to appear negative about a book that I valued and will certainly recommend and it is perhaps to his credit as a scholar, that he is honest enough not to peddle any simple solutions - but - part of me wished he had sold me something and not just set out the stall.
I found the book clear well reasoned well written and understandable. It is also a good read - this was a book that I read in a couple of days. It is obvious that Alain de Botton has an enviable understanding of his subject and it was a pleasure for a lazy reader to be guided through such a wide tapestry of thinkers - I have in the past tried to read some of these authors but have been defeated by their verbiage. All in all a very good read and a valuable tool to make you assess the way you live your life and react to the world and other people