The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever Paperback – Nov 6 2007
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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 What these dynamic writers are railing against often enough, however, is a strawman: an immature, fundamentalist, outdated, and even embarrassing style of religion that many intelligent believers have long since cast off.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 Wests greatest thinkers.
"My prayers are answered!"--"The New York Observer"
"A fascinating collection of articles that just say no to religion...Required reading for anyone who believes, disbelieves, or just isn't sure yet."--"People," "Critic's Choice"
"Contrarian Christopher Hitchens' "The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever" should be sufficient fodder for anyone uncomfortable with the notion of a creator."--"Hartford Courant"
"Those objections and the writings Hitchens assembles to buttress them will surely bring on new controversies, which is just the sort of thing on which he has thrived over a long and fruitful career."--"Kirkus"
"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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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
A worthwhile addition to the Atheist's bookshelf
Most recent customer reviews
Great collection for those looking for a boiled down collection of essential short readings for the intellectual athiest and anti-theist.Published 12 months ago by iluvdanny83
A lot thicker than I expected and it took a while to get into but this is a very comprehensive catalog of atheistic and secular writings.Published 22 months ago by Pete