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The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever Paperback – Nov 6 2007


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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 Details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; 1 edition (Nov. 6 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306816083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306816086
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 3 x 23.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 558 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #32,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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 What these dynamic writers are railing against often enough, however, is a strawman: an immature, fundamentalist, outdated, and even embarrassing style of religion that many intelligent believers have long since cast off.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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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Gayle Gibson TOP 500 REVIEWER on July 1 2008
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 By TomFPark on 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 By H. Adams TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 18 2010
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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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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By Victoria Guy on 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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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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By Graveleater on Feb. 5 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this one. Another great collection, put together by one of my favourite authors. Well worth the time!
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