I was puzzled at first why Ms. Kolakowska chose the short and curious essay “Is God Happy?” as the title of the book. In it, her father concluded that the concept of happiness can’t apply to God and that, as long as pain and death are in the world, it can’t apply to humans either. But on reflection the title makes sense. As a boy, Leszek Kolakowski saw Jews rounded up in Nazi-occupied Poland; as an adult he witnessed the dominance of a brutal and fraudulent ideology; and in middle age he saw many of his fellow intellectuals defend that ideology at every opportunity. In such a world, where is there room for happiness?