Or alternatively, we could subtitle this book 'In search of a point of view.'
Good things first. This is a much better introduction to humanism than Peter Cave's truly awful attempt. It is easy to read, non dogmatic and makes many interesting and thought provoking points. There is little I would disagree with, except some political points which are rather left wing for my taste (this means they are VERY left wing) and which have little to do with humanism anyway. I found the section on the history of humanism very interesting.
It remains however a rather academic work, and like A C Grayling's latest book, puts a lot of emphasis on the individual working things out, in an intellectual way, for him or herself. In this it excludes most of the human population from accessing humanism, which is a pity.
On the down side, the author reminds me very much of a butterfly - extremely difficult to pin down. Much of the text is full of unresolved questions. Often when making a point, the author will follow this with an alternative point of view and leave the matter open. I am sure this type of approach earns points from the academic establishment, but it has limited value in the real world. I kept wanting to ask, in my frustration - 'yes, but what do YOU think?'.
In the end, I found the whole thing rather depressing. Jim Herrick's vision doesn't go much further than trying to 'make life a bit more bearable' and refusing to take a position on anything.
So overall worth reading, given the shortage of good titles on this subject, but hardly a strong recommendation for humanism generally.
This book delivers what it promises: a clear, concise presentation of the humanist outlook. As a general introduction, it poses many of the questions that humanists grapple with: What are good and evil? Should neo-Nazis be given the right to free speech? Is the value of nuclear power greater than the risk of pollution or accident? Should RE in schools be abolished? Should someone who wishes to die be helped to do so? But appropriately, given its aim and scope, it leaves the deeper exploration of these problems to other writers. Well organised into short chapters focusing on separate aspects of the topic – e.g. humanism and morality, humanism and science, humanism and the environment – it's lucid, informative, open-minded and fair, and a useful springboard to further exploration.