cover image Pride


Michael Eric Dyson. Oxford University Press, $23.95 (142pp) ISBN 978-0-19-516092-5

In the final book in a collaborative series between the New York Public Library and Oxford University Press on the seven deadly sins, Dyson examines pride in its many iterations, invoking pop culture icons and events to lend accessibility to a potentially didactic subject. (Francine Prose wrote earlier of gluttony, Wendy Wasserstein of sloth...) ""If pride is a sin,"" Dyson writes, ""it is no ordinary sin, to be sure."" Indeed, Dyson, a prolific author, professor at the University of Pennsylvania and an ordained Baptist minister, takes his time in explicating the virtues and dangers of pride. Although an initial chapter on the ""philosophical and religious roots of pride"" proves less than engaging, Dyson's discussions of ""personal pride,"" ""white pride,"" ""black pride"" and ""national pride"" are thoughtful and exhibit a fine balance of scholarship and philosophizing. In the black pride section, the book's liveliest, Dyson (Is Bill Cosby Right? Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?) talks about political figures such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice and the effects they do and do not have on the black electorate. He analyzes Halle Berry's and Denzel Washington's acceptance speeches at the 2002 Academy Awards, concluding one was ""brave,"" the other ""cool."" Readers already familiar with the ""sins"" series will welcome this final volume, as will those interested in issues of race.