This moving collection of philosophical, literary and theological readingson the nature of human work, part of a series on the "ethics of everydaylife," would make Robert MaynardHutchins, founder of the Great Books curriculum, proud. Meilander's selection of readings ranging from Marx toTolstoy, baseball writer Roger Angell to the Bible, illustrate beautifullythe paradox of human labor: its profound meaning and its ultimatemeaninglessness.

As with the best anthologies, many of the selections will make readerswant to go look at the original. The beautiful passages from Anna Kareninaabout landowner Levin working in the fields with his peasants, forexample, or those from George Orwell's "The Road to Wigan Pier" on thehorrors of life in the mines, whet the appetite for the whole book. But itwould have been interesting for Meilander to include information about thenature of work in modern society--none of Studs Terkel's famousinterviews, for example, made the grade. And at timesselections seem a little too whimsical and precious: What did Meilanderthink he'd accomplish by including the children's story "The Little RedHen"? It's hard to imagine Hutchins would approve.