Damning with faint praise is a big subject. Or not a small one, at any rate. I will tackle it a greater length on another occasion, when time permits. Today, however, I would like to share this example from a book review by Jonathan Sumption in The Spectator (subscription required).
The book in question is by Karen Armstrong, and is entitled: The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah.
That's right. The Great Transformation: The World in the Time of Buddha, Socrates, Confucius and Jeremiah. Over to you, Jonathan:
Karen Armstrong likes to take on large subjects, and they don’t come much larger than this. Her latest book is nothing less than an attempt to describe the historical origins of all the great world religions. The nearest analogy is The Key to All Mythologies, the grandiloquently named tome which George Eliot’s Mr Casaubon never got round to finishing. But it would be unkind to press the analogy too far. Armstrong is not a pedant, and whatever else may be said about this book she has certainly finished it.
I won't be reading Ms Armstrong's book, but I'm glad she wrote it.
Douglas Adams had far more success in tackling such large subjects in Life, the Universe and Everything... the meaning of which is, of course, 42.