I wanted to like this book. I wanted to agree with the reviewers that this is an important, wise and humane book. But while it seems to be aimed at the general reader, I couldn't begin to say what it is about or what Sennett is talking about when he uses words like 'respect' and 'character'. He seems to be using words that have a common, ordinary meaning in another way, but without explaining the new meanings. After 263 pages I'm no wiser about how respect between social groups (or perhaps between social groups and the state) might work or, for that matter, how Sennett believes it might work.