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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything [Paperback]

Christopher Hitchens
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 2 2008
Christopher Hitchens, described in the London Observer as “one of the most prolific, as well as brilliant, journalists of our time” takes on his biggest subject yet–the increasingly dangerous role of religion in the world.

In the tradition of Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not a Christian and Sam Harris’s recent bestseller, The End Of Faith, Christopher Hitchens makes the ultimate case against religion. With a close and erudite reading of the major religious texts, he documents the ways in which religion is a man-made wish, a cause of dangerous sexual repression, and a distortion of our origins in the cosmos. With eloquent clarity, Hitchens frames the argument for a more secular life based on science and reason, in which hell is replaced by the Hubble Telescope’s awesome view of the universe, and Moses and the burning bush give way to the beauty and symmetry of the double helix.


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From Publishers Weekly

Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* God is getting bad press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith(2005) and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have questioned the existence of any spiritual being and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not only does religion poison everything, which he argues by explaining several ways in which religion is immoral, but the world would be better off without religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts. Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment. Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of approval. With such chapter titles as "Religion Kills" and "Is Religion Child Abuse?" Hitchens intends to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless. Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions not only the virgin birth but the very existence of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Changed my life ... ... May 14 2010
Format:Paperback
This book literally changed my life.
I was so relieved to find within it all the intelligently constructed arguments that rang so true with me that I no longer felt any pangs of guilt for not believing in "the Faith of my Fathers". I loved this book. Now I feel I must read all the rest of Hitchen's books. It's all there. The total proof of evolution lies just down the road in the Burgess Shale. Now I have no doubts. There is no god. Man invented him in his own image. I don't need it.
Thank you Christopher Hitchens.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Nov. 21 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What appears to be a polemic attack by Hitchens, is really nothing more than the robust confrontation that religion's baseless assertions need and deserve. This book, and others like it, are way overdue.

Buy this book.
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133 of 149 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A review by someone who actually read the book May 22 2007
Format:Hardcover
This is by no means a hateful book. In fact, those who have become used to Hitchens' sometimes cut-throat prose will be surprised at how restrained he is, and how quick he is to acknowledge, say, the equally-ghastly crimes of the secular dictatorships of Hitler and Stalin. Then he points out how both regimes were abetted by the church.

The contention by "J" that Hitchens argues that "religions are closed-minded and have only brought about the oppression of women and children without any knowledge of the social and intellectual advances that many religions have afforded us" is proof positive "J" has indeed not read this book. Hitchens simply balances the claims of religion versus the results and argues that overall, religious dogma is merely a holdover from the time when humans had little to no information about how the world is actually constituted. While he does skirt around the shortcomings of scientific reason, Hitchens rightly reminds us that science has actually enhanced the mystery of "creation" rather than spoiling the fun.

Hitchens may be a lot of things: a misanthrope, a contrarian, and sometimes a bit of an arrogant jerk, but to say he is a "closed-minded journalist" without having read this work (which is shot through with references to the Classics, religious scholarship, science, history and literature) is an insult to Hitchens and the book-buying public. Hitchens can look after himself; the book-buying public is so advised.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Command of the english language June 22 2009
By Kyle
Format:Paperback
Extrordinary book, very comprehensive review of the damage relegion has done to our world, very challenging to read, this author has an exceptional command of the english language
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchens Is Very Well Researched Dec 9 2008
By Patrick Sullivan TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
The subtitle, How Religion Poisons Everything, pretty well sums up the entire book. Hitchens sets out to destroy every aspect of the worlds religions.
And I think he accomplishes his goal. Hitchens is an atheist, but has done so much research into the topic of religion. His arguments against religion are very well made.
I heard Hitchens commenting about his book. He mentioned this was a personal issue for him. In the seventh grade he started to question religious beliefs. It was the first thing that he really thought about. I also had the same feelings in the seventh grade about religious beliefs.
In summary, I would say that this book basically says everything about religion, that most people are afraid to say.
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33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars God may not be great, but this book is. Sept. 22 2007
Format:Hardcover
It doesn't matter if you are religious or not to thuroughly enjoy this book. Hitchins is artful writer and essayist who knows how to leverage substantiation techniques to craft very clear and accessible arguments. However, it is important to remember that this is exclusively a critique of religion and how it can (as the subtitle explicitly states) poison everything. It is not, and nor should it be, a cross-comparison with all the arguable good, religion has contributed to society; for which I'm sure there are plenty of other texts already available. As a critique, you will perhaps not find a better stated case against religious institutions and the dangerously unreasonable and fanatical belief they inspire.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better than I'd been giving it credit... Dec 31 2008
Format:Paperback
I'd been disinterested in Hitchens' book for some while. God has seemed mainly irrelevant to me of late, so the recent spate of God-bashing books didn't really register. Then a friend gave me a copy, and I realized that it's more important than I had been giving it credit. It reminded me that it's not adequate to ignore members of organized religions and hope they'll return the favour - because that is not and will never be good enough for them. We need to remind ourselves of the aspects of institutional religion that continue to be morally harmful, and plan how we can counter their debilitating effects. So, I'm grateful to Hitchens for nudging me back to a more active stance with respect to the positive evils associated with organized religion.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitch at his best Sept. 8 2011
Format:Paperback
The chapter "Religion Kills", should by itself carry enough weight to at least make someone ponder the terrible,stupid and dangerous things that are born from religious ideals. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys new age philosophy, and is interested in the very important topic of religion within our societies.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye Opener.
A real eye opener, full of rationality and other things that religious people cannot deal with. Compelling arguments and fact based criticism of the old fashioned, outdated and... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Chris Rose
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
One of the best books on the subject.
Published 10 days ago by Rudy Krueger
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes!
Not the easiest read, but a grand one. You can 'hear' his thought processes and respect his sometimes wayward ramblings, because they appear to be products of his earliest outrages... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Poetkitty
5.0 out of 5 stars Convincing with doubt inducing
This is a carefully and convincingly organized text, presented in the best tradition of rhetorical persuasions. Read more
Published 1 month ago by James Wilhelm
5.0 out of 5 stars You could read this for the sublime use of the language...
...even if you diagree ─ even if you abhor ─ the content. He is the Nabokov of modern English. You may want a dictionary handy, and that's a good thing.
Published 1 month ago by Ernie
4.0 out of 5 stars Vivisecting Sects
Christopher Hitchens was obsessed with religion. He says he’s been writing this book all his life, and despite its publication, would continue writing it the rest of his life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Wineberg
5.0 out of 5 stars God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
One of the most compelling books that I have ever read. The book written with total honesty and great for open minded people.
Published 4 months ago by champinn
5.0 out of 5 stars Great reading if you have an open mind.
As usual Hitchens pulls no punches and hits everyone where they deserve it. Well written (although not long enough) and something that everyone should read, although anyone with a... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Serge
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling
There's no doubt that his reasoning is logical and compelling. Most of the world's tensions and killings definitely can be linked back to one religion or another.
Published 6 months ago by Dirk
4.0 out of 5 stars Pure Acid
This bit of intellectual argument was the last of eight reads for the month and it almost didn't make it into the list at all. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Rob Slaven
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