So the title of the book is The Seven Deadly Virtues and there are seventeen chapters. Apparently nobody told editor Jonathan V. Last that there would be math. And I don't know why Owen Wilson is on the cover.
Those quibbles aside, it's pretty good! Mr. Last persuaded 17 other conservative writers to each pen an essay on (in all but one case) a single virtue. Why so many? Well, first there are the classic virtues noticed by Plato (I'll put Mr. Last's assigned writer next to each):
- Temperance [Andrew Stiles]
- Prudence [Andrew Ferguson]
- Courage [Michael Graham]
- Justice [Rob Long]
Christian theology adds three more…
- Faith [Larry Miller]
- Hope [David Burge, aka Iowahawk]
- Charity [Mollie Hemingway]
And to pad things out, Last's writers also opine on "everyday" virtues:
- Chastity [Matt Labash]
- Simplicity [James Lileks]
- Thrift [Joe Queenan]
- Honesty [Rita Koganzon]
- Fellowship [Christine Rosen]
- Forbearance [Sonny Bunch]
- Integrity [Jonah Goldberg]
- Curiosity [Christopher Caldwell]
- Perseverence [Christopher Buckley]
If you're counting, that's 16: add in Mr. Last's introduction, and P.J. O'Rourke's overview of the first two batches, "The Seven Deadly Virtues and the New York Times".
Famous folk, all except… I had never heard of Rita Koganzon. Her back-of-the-book-bio shows why: she's a mere grad student (albeit at Harvard) and her publications are in serious journals I don't read.
I'm a little surprised that Christopher Buckley made the cut, due to his 2008 endorsement of Obama and his subsequent separation from his dad's magazine, National Review. (This also led to a wicked and delightful Iowahawk parody, so I'm also a bit surprised that Buckley agreed to appear in the same book as the Hawk.)
The essays range (in my subjective opinion) from superb to good. And the humor content varies from (usually) high to (a couple cases) undetectable. Some writers seem to stray from their topic. For example, Mr. Lileks on "Simplicity" takes off on his (well-known, if you know about Mr. Lileks at all) habit of picking up ephemera. (He ties it back up by the end of the essay.)
An adapted version of Jonah Goldberg's contribution can be read here.
Consumer note: my generous family gave me the hardcover for Christmas, but it's a tad pricey ($20.57 at Amazon as I type). I would recommend the Kindle version at $9.99.