As someone who has always loved philosophy, and who has a deep interest in Eastern philosophy, this book was one I had looked forward to reading, and it did not disappoint. I loved the technique the author used in having old sayings with short stories; it was enjoyable and kept me engaged. The author explained beliefs in a way that was charming, easy to understand and not dry at all like some philosophical works can be. What's interesting is now I feel that I have a better understanding and am eager to read more. I do hope there will be more to come from this author.
The book is quick and easy to read; in fact it is a bit too quick. I found myself simply wanting more of these maxims -- two hundred is a lot but when they're put down in such easy to understand ways, one simply wants more. I'm sure critics who say that this is not a totally new way of looking at life are probably right. However, I don't know that this criticism is particularly important. I think Smith's purpose was simply to whet the reader's appetite so they'd be motivated to do more in life and perhaps even to study more life philosophies. If I'm correct in this belief, he was successful, at least in my case.
This book is a wonderfully written dissertation on life-outlooks expressed in a manner that we can all easily understand. You don't need to be a philosophy expert to understand and appreciate this book. I've read a lot of philosophy and it's easy to see that Smith's summary in this book allows you to visualize certain of the more esoteric notions in a manner familiar to us all. Like most of the books that I really love, this one has now become a popular gift item for my friends' stockings.