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The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason Hardcover – 3 Sep 2004


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (3 Sept. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393035158
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393035155
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 0.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,045,991 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'A bold and exhilarating thesis . . . A brave, pugilistic attempt to demolish the walls that currently insulate religious people from criticism' -- Johann Hari, Independent

'A clever thesis by a clever man . . . Even Harris's critics will have to concede the force of [his] analysis' -- The Economist

'A genuinely frightening book . . . Read Sam Harris and wake up' -- Richard Dawkins, Guardian

'A tour de force' -- Alan Dershowitz

'I felt relieved as I read it, vindicated, almost personally understood . . . This is an important book' -- Natalie Angier, New York Times Book Review

'Radical . . . An eminently sensible rallying cry for a more ruthless secularisation of society' -- Stephanie Merritt, Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

WINNER OF THE 2005 PEN AWARD FOR FIRST NON-FICTION --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

248 of 263 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 24 April 2006
Format: Paperback
To call this book provocative is something of an understatement - it's an attack on ideals held very dear by many, from the sanctity of religious faith through to the desirability of religious tolerance. It's also highly persuasive, and a timely wake-up call to anyone who dislikes religion but believes that private beliefs should go unchallenged.

Harris's key concern is pragmatic: there are religious fundamentalists happy to kill both themselves and others on the basis of their faith in particular holy books, and we must find the best way of stopping them. Harris's view is that the way to do so is to undermine all religion, not just that of the fundamentalists.

He notes that "religious tolerance", the liberal consensus which minimises conflict between believers and non-believers, and between moderates and radicals, allows fundamentalism to flourish because it creates a climate where only actions can be challenged, not the beliefs that cause them. Harris (with some tendency to exaggeration) downplays the political causes of terrorism which other writers focus on, and concentrates on the central absurdity that makes acts like suicide bombing possible - belief in reward in the afterlife.

Harris rarely minces words. The book is filled with quotable invective, which depending on your perspective you'll either find inspiring or apalling. As a rant, it's highly articulate and very well-argued.

Harris pours scorn particularly on Islam and Christianity, enumerating the false beliefs to be found in their holy books and devoting a chapter each to their flaws. Judaism gets off more lightly, and he clearly has more sympathy for Israel than its neighbours.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Mr. T. White TOP 500 REVIEWER on 24 Mar. 2009
Format: Paperback
End of Faith is one of the most important books of the decade. Read this book and start thinking. And please don't stop thinking, otherwise you'll miss the point of it. For this is a book to inspire thought about how the world has come to have so many problems, so many of which are directly or indirectly attributable to religion. Even some laws which make no rational sense are in existence because of a moral tradition which is directly attributable to religious belief. Belief, in other words, which is not based on any scientific proof.

I must echo what another said, as it is totally right to say:

If you have an open, intelligent and enquiring mind - Read it.
If you want a better understanding of why the world is in such a mess - Read it
If you are interested in ethics, moral identity and politics - Read it.
If you are intrigued by the nature of belief - Read it

Harris makes a most brilliant and compelling treatise on why religion is so disturbingly destructive in so many ways; and is all the more so when it is followed with blind allegiance. He also demonstrates with the most logical fluidity and rational reasoning how its effects affect all of us - whether we are religious or not. And he develops, most compellingly, the argument that this is wrong. In short, read this book and wake up! And please give this book to others who are influential in this world, as this book is far too important to ignore. An unquestionable must read, which has divided many people and accordingly does not have the mark of greatness here on Amazon that is so thoroughly deserves.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jo Phillips on 13 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover
So you are thinking of buying this book! Well I totally recommend the read. For someone who is not particularly intellectual (me!), I was a little daunted by all the 'big words' and although it took me a couple of weeks to read and digest I found it inspiring, interesting, thought provoking. It has got me thinking and that, I think, is the main point of Sam's work. to get us to think and to question 'Why?' and look for truth. I grew up as an Evangelical, happy clappy Christian (Was told that Evolution was wrong and that Creationism was correct) and have since converted to Judaism. I have always been on a quest for the truth and Science delivers so many answers that the Rabbi's fail to fully answer. Now?- well, I have 'lost' my faith - but in a good way. I don't feel depressed about it anymore and and am excited about life and learning more about life and what it is all about. Next book - Evolution for Dummies!
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92 of 103 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on 6 Feb. 2006
Format: Paperback
Mum always insisted; "Don't discuss politics or religion!" These days the two are too thoroughly intertwined to avoid discussing one without the other. Sam Harris thinks so, and is emphatic that we need to recognise that. He doesn't like religion - there are too many illogical and inconsistent expressions of it. He's particularly concerned about how religions manifest themselves in politics. In this challenging and provocative book, he urges us all to be aware about what the "faithful" learn about their gods, and how they express that learning. He finds the situation dangerous, threatening enough that immediate action is overdue to correct the peril we face. This cry of alarm must be heeded, and Harris has done a thorough job of explaining why we must act.
In the West, he notes how religious tolerance, after a long struggle to gain acceptance, poses a conundrum. Tolerance means acceptance, but the faithful in the three extensive monotheistic religions, preclude tolerance. "The Book", accepted if not admired universally, demands the diminution, if not the destruction of "heresy". He's particularly scathing of Islam's own "Book", the Qur'an in its insistence on rooting out infidels. Thus, there is no "border" to the Islamic world short of the planet itself. This, he argues, is a tangible threat. We've experienced one of its most diabolically conceived acts in the destruction of the Twin Towers. This, he argues, is but the first of a series of acts that will grow increasingly severe with the passage of time. Those in the West stressing that the suicide bombers are "fanatics" and "fundamentalists" are deluding themselves. It is clear, Harris says, that Islam "must find a way to revise itself".
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