Nuanced, elegiac . . . Gopnik's essays [...] owe much to the idea of Alistair Cook's Letter from America . . . single, deeply intelligent voices allowed to expand on a subject . . . You trust his judgement . . . The article of hope or faith that Gopnik still clings to is the idea that serious, humane thinking and writing, of the kind that teases out the truth of the world, can still generate enlightenment. [The essay form] as this collection nimbly demonstrates, allows you to watch and enjoy another mind confront the world at its most problematic. It feels like a dying art.