Wall Street Journal columnist Felten (How’s Your Drink?: Cocktails, Culture, and the Art of Drinking Well, 2007, etc.) explores the ambiguous aspects of loyalty.
Has the concept of loyalty changed over time? And how does one navigate the often paradoxical terrain of competing loyalties? The author’s take on what he's rightly termed a "vexing virtue" is a refreshing investigation of a concept often oversimplified. Through philosophical queries, powerful stories and case studies that will set readers pondering for hours, Felten asks us to consider how loyalty is exhibited in a multitude of situations. Politics, religion and parenting all get the loyal treatment—as does warfare. Should a Marine, under the banner Semper Fi, who is witness to an atrocity committed by his brother in arms remain faithful or speak out righteously against him? What will readers make of Agamemnon of Greek legend, asked to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to turn the tides for Troy? Was he a cruel parent or loyal to his gods and his soldiers? Many of us aren't faced with such dramatic or tragic choices, but Felten’s point is that we’ve all faced the conflicts posed by questions of loyalty. From King Lear to George Washington to Tiger Woods, the author’s varied examples of vying interests ask readers to repeatedly reconsider the meaning of loyalty in their own lives.
Like this book, loyalty is a difficult but essential virtue.