Grayling (Meditations for the Humanist) writes in praise of the essay, and his book is an excellent example of a fine essayist in action. It consists of a large number of short pieces on various philosophical themes, including religion, capital punishment, fasting, war, and politics. Grayling views religion with alarm, regarding it as a principal source of fanaticism. Religious views, he holds, should be strictly confined to private life and should have no influence on education and public affairs. Instead, he favors a tolerant humanism that owes much to the Greeks and Romans. He finds value in Stoicism but criticizes it for its reluctance to engage fully with life. Grayling does not confine himself to generalities, however: he has some up-to-the-minute comments on terrorism. He warns against curtailing civil liberties and feels that the threat of terrorism should not induce us to abandon civilized tolerance. Grayling often "tells" us rather than deploying sustained arguments for his controversial views, but readers will benefit from an encounter with his erudite and elegant prose. Highly recommended.-David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ. OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.