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The First Dissident, by William Safire

- Abstract

Himself a man of some wealth and influence, William Safire, the well-known columnist of the New York Times, has written a book about another man of (much greater) wealth and influence: Job of the land of Uz, who had 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 asses, many servants, and sufficient authority to be “the greatest man in the East” when his atrocious sufferings were about to begin.

This admittedly rather feeble parallel offers the only explanation I can think of for Safire’s unexpected achievement. Tackling a biblical text even more intensively studied than most, on which, it would seem, nothing new and valid could be said, Safire nevertheless offers an interpretation both original and persuasive. Job was a man of power above all, and Safire evidently understands power far better than most of the commentators on this book who have preceded him—pious men all, who tended to see only the piety in Job.

About the Author

Edward N. Luttwak is senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.