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Humility: An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue [Book Review] by David J. Bobb (NashvilleThomas Nelson2013)


“America is not Rome—yet.”

The highly original book, Humility, elevates a quality of American character that few pursue and yet everyone admires. David Bobb introduces readers to what made America great by providing, as its subtitle states, An Unlikely Biography of America’s Greatest Virtue.

True to the wishes of America’s founding fathers, the young country prospered through understanding that greatness and humility weren’t mutually exclusive—something ancient Rome missed. Bobb traces the thread of humility in a select individuals:

  • George Washington—who twice declined the opportunity to have ultimate power
  • James Madison—who pushed for a realistic—not idealistic—view of human nature in politics
  • Abigail Adams—who chose devotion to home and husband rather than to socialites and helped shape America
  • Abraham Lincoln—who could have abandoned the constitution and become a dictator
  • Fredrick Douglas—who remained appropriately humble of his accomplishments

The book’s premise, of course, is outstanding and convincing.

However, the volume reads as simple history and philosophy—and honestly, pretty dry. With personalities as colorful as Fredrick Douglas and Abigail Adams in the mix, Humility would have been a more inspiring read if it included humility’s companion characteristics of joy or humor.