Finally, a great book for a great series. I am a fan of The Sopranos but was unfamiliar with the Open Court Popular Culture and Philosophy series before picking up this volume, so I can't speak to how this book compares to others in the series. But as a Sopranos fan, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book and that it added to my appreciation and understanding of my favorite show. To give a few examples, the essays on Sun-Tzu and Machiavelli explained clearly to a non-philosopher who these two figures (both of whom Tony mentions) are and why knowing something about them helps you to understand the motivation of some of the characters on the show. An issue which has long interested me has been whether watching the show can actually be morally harmful, and two of the essays in the book specifically addressed this topic (and put my mind at ease). And the entire ethics section provided an nice overview of this daunting subject and explained its relevance to the series, focusing on such issues as whether the series espouses a relativistic viewpoint (it doesn't), and whether Carmela is a feminist (she's on her way).
The seventeen essays are grouped under five headings: history of philosophy, ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. If these topics sound too academic for a show like The Sopranos, don't worry. All but one or two of the essays are written in a style accessible to the general reading public.
The essays provide a good mix of discussion of the first four seasons of the show. The essay on nihilism traces Tony's existential crisis across the first fifty-two episodes. The chapter on how The Sopranos is like a Greek tragedy focuses primarily on season one, whereas the essay on the problem of evil places emphasis on the dominance of that issue in season four. While many of the essays focus on Tony (for obvious reasons), it seems all the major characters are amply covered. Carmela gets an essay devoted entirely to her, and Dr. Melfi is prominently discussed in several essays. Even Charmaine Bucco comes under scrutiny.
The authors love for the show is evident in every essay, and the editors seem to have taken great care to get things right. I checked many of the quotes against my DVD copies of the series and found them dead on accurate. My only complaint is that I would have liked more essays. And though I am glad Open Court decided to put the volume out now, since it has greatly deepened my appreciation for The Sopranos, I hope they put out a revised version once the series ends.