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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever [Paperback]

Christopher Hitchens
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 6 2007
From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of God Is Not Great, a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages - with never-before-published pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.Christopher Hitchens continues to make the case for a splendidly godless universe in this first-ever gathering of the influential voices - past and present - that have shaped his side of the current (and raging) God/no-god debate. With Hitchens as your erudite and witty guide, you'll be led through a wealth ofphilosophy, literature, and scientific inquiry, including generous portions of the words of Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and many others well-known and lesser known. And they're all set in context and commented upon as only Christopher Hitchens - "political and literary journalist extraordinaire" ( Los Angeles Times ) - can. Atheist? Believer? Uncertain? No matter: The Portable Atheist will speak to you and engage you every step of the way.

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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever + God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything + The God Delusion
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hitchens, an avowed atheist and author of the bestseller God Is Not Great, is a formidable intellectual who finds the notion of belief in God to be utter nonsense. The author is clear in his introduction that religion has caused more than its fair share of world problems. "Religion invents a problem where none exists by describing the wicked as also made in the image of god and the sexually nonconformist as existing in a state of incurable mortal sin that can incidentally cause floods and earthquakes." The readings Hitchens chooses to bolster his atheist argument are indeed engaging and important. Hobbes, Spinoza, Mill and Marx are some of the heavyweights representing a philosophical viewpoint. From the world of literature the author assembles excerpts from Shelley, Twain, Conrad, Orwell and Updike. All are enjoyable to read and will make even religious believers envious of the talent gathered for this anthology. What these dynamic writers are railing against often enough, however, is a strawman: an immature, fundamentalist, outdated, and even embarrassing style of religion that many intelligent believers have long since cast off. It could be that Hitchens and his cast of nonbelievers are preaching to the choir and their message is tired and spent. However, this remains a fascinating collection of readings from some of the West’s greatest thinkers.

Review

"Hitchens has returned to the Belief Wars backed by a full army...the Godless Warrior marshals in an Atheist A-Team...to buttress his own arguments...Hitchens is the guide as well as the commentartor linking it all together."--"San Diego Tribune"

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
By Gayle Gibson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
In editing this anthrology, Christopher Hitchens has performed a great service for all who wish to understand one of the most important issues of our time, the debate (the struggle?) between secularism and religion. From Lucretius to Ayan Hirsi Ali, the chosen authors reveal and explain their understanding of the universe and its ways. Hitchen's pithy introductions to each selection add considerably to the reader's understanding and pleasure.
Many of the essays would be difficult to find outside of a large library, others might be hard to find at all. From the 1997 UN Anthology, for example, there's Salman Rushdie's "Imagine There's No Heaven": a letter to the Six Billionth World Citizen. This gentle and loving essay fearlessly accepts the fact that there is no god, but gently and with love asserts that there is much beauty in human life if each of us can manage to 'live in our own time, use what we know. . .'
The reader expects to find Spinoza, Hume, Shelly, George Eliot, Marx, Einstein, H. L. Menkin,Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins in such a book, and we are not disappointed. Hitchens also introduces us to many less-well known (or almost forgotten) men and women, such as Chapman Cohen, Elizabeth Anderson and Charles Templeton.
There are brief contributions such as the poems by Thomas Hardy, Johon Betjeman and Philip Larkin;, other segments, such as Ibn Warraq's commentary on the Koran, are extensive. (The latter is sixty pages in fact.) The variety in the length of selections makes The Portable Atheist an excellent book for a long journey, or to keep beside a favorite chair.
The subtitle of the book is "Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever" but i would suggest that any and all intelligent citizens will find the selections stimulating and exciting, well worth the purchase price and reading time.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Commendable Effort June 7 2011
Format:Paperback
Put quite simply, this is an anthology intended to give agnostics and atheists and perhaps secular theists the groundwork and firepower that may be needed to engage in critical discussion with their friends or enemies of opposing or complimentary viewpoints.

I felt the anthology so engaging, I read the 500 page book(roughly) in 2 nights. I would have liked to see more intellectually thick argumentation based on more of a logical approach. I did like The excerpt regarding Freud's view of religion as a mass illusion of the people, and I loved how Ibn Warraq laid waste to the belief that the Koran is unchanged and perfect. The excerpt of Bertrand Russel's Intellectual Rubbish is lovely(one of my favourite philosophers).

I feel compelled to purchase many of the full publications of a majority of the contributing authors of this work.

Christopher Hitchen's introductory essay pretty much sums up the entire anthology and is a concise razor sharp tactical shot at the virtues of superstition and totalitarian ethics.

I would recommend anyone who has the freedom to read this, to pick up this book and examine the pages within.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intellectual Feast April 18 2010
By H. Adams TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This is not a bedtime book. Find a nice comfortable chair and put on a pot of coffee, you'll need to be alert. The effort will be worthwhile.
Hitchens has compiled wide ranging review of atheist (rationalist, humanist)thought that is both revealing and challenging. Each chapter deserves to be re-read, in order to fully appreciate the reasoning and philosophy behind it. An intellectual feast to be savoured and revisited frequently.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Why I'm a fan of Hitchens May 8 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a fan of Hitchens and this book only reinforces my position. I would recommend this book to anyone who believes he or she needs to cement his/her stance against religion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars such a relief April 30 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have now read a number of books that shred the magical beliefs so prevalent in our many societies. This is yet another excellent addition to the hopeful demise of religion and magical thinking.
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2.0 out of 5 stars A dry read indeed March 27 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The entire 'sample" is the prologue, none of the actual book. It made it hard to choose. If I had seen say, the first chapter, I would not have bought this book.
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A most interestisng collection of essays on atheism which while by no means exhaustive, nor always original, usually manage to bring powerful argument for the rejection of belief in god in our daily lives.
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