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on 16 April 2012
Christopher Hitchens died last year and until he died I had never heard of him. I read eulogies from his fellow journalists and then heard no more until last week when, by chance, I came across some video clips of Hitchens speaking about his views on religion and I found them fascinating.

I then found that Hitchens had written a book, God is not Great: how religion poisons everything. I bought the book and have now read it.

Firstly, I have only read a couple of chapters of Richard Dawkins The God Delusion and I have to say that Hitchens did a far better job than Dawkins.

Religious people do not like God is not Great. Not because it tests their faith but because of what it reveals about what goes on in the name of religion. Hitchens tells us, almost in passing, that he has received death threats, nasty phone calls and threats of violence for holding his view that he believes that religions poison everything.

Having been born and brought up in a country where freedom of speech is taken for granted, I wonder at who it could be that would so object to someone's views that they threaten murder. That's for their conscience!

As for the book, it is entertainingly written and full of stories aimed at the three main monotheisms: Christianity, Jewry, Islam. He regales us with story after story of the things that clerics hiding under these three banners get up to and have got up to for millennia. Hitchens reveals a great number of sources too: he's not just letting off steam.

I have to say that I read this book for the overview it provided and not to learn the deep and detailed information that Hitchens sometimes goes into: it's there if you want it, of course.

I like Hitchens' style as it is keen, ascerbic, funny, witty, well sourced and contains many words that I had never come across before. At least it will improve your vocabulary.

I have to say that another motivation for reading the book is that I arrived at a similar position to Hitchens vis a vis religion over the last two or three years having seen religious brainwashing and its consequences at first hand. No God will work in that way with those people: something else is most definitely going on and I could support these things no longer, having realised what was happening.

I imagine there will be people who read this mini review and who might feel angry with me for having written it: well, that's for you to come to terms with. I am glad I read the book, I learned many things about religions that I did not previously know and Hitchens gives a message that we all ought to consider. You do not have to agree with him!

What's wrong with the book? Well, Hitchens has a mission, to clarify why he thinks religions poison everything. He gives no time to the good that good people in religions often do. He does not attempt to redress any imbalances in his arguments at all in this respect. If he were alive to answer this point I am sure he would ask, why on earth should I?

Overall, if you are deeply committed to your religion you might not want to read this book but I think you should suspend your faith, read it and then explore fully what Hitchens has to say. Don't dismiss this book with anger in your heart! If you give Hitchens a fair hearing and stick to your guns then fine.

I recommend this book to everyone but if your English reading skills are weak, it will be difficult for you: Hitchens' English language skills are highly developed and he's writing for an educated audience. No offence to anyone, just a friendly warning!

DW
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on 7 March 2012
"This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill.... " Morpheus, The Matrix 1999.

Hitchens does not set out to disprove the existence of God. During the book he does point out some of the glaring inconsistencies and sickening immoralities contained in the main religious texts. But this is not its main focus. What he does is attack in devastating and visceral terms the last real defence upon which religions fall back - that we need them to make us behave better. Hitchens exposes the murder; needless death; restriction of free thought and scientific progress; child abuse (both physical and mental); and repression that are not just incidental to, but an essential part of all major religions.

The book is articulately argued by someone whose command of English is outstanding, without becoming inaccessible (with the minor exception of chapter 18) or verbose. The arguement in chapter 17 is a little weak, but apart from that the main point of the book is relentlessly driven home in an often witty way.

For believers - you may want to stick with the blue pill and not read the book.
For me this book burned away any semblence of doubt that religion is a good thing. This book is the red pill. It will free your mind.
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on 18 November 2012
A thoughtful and intelligent book that questions and debunks religion in all it's forms. Only the truly faithful can resist the clean and clear conclusion that (any) God is not great and belief systems such as these really do poison everything. An easy but compelling read that will surprise as well as inform you whatever your particular delusion. Don't be afraid.

Resistance is futile !
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on 13 May 2009
This book is EXTREMELY well written. Witty, informative, and determined.

Many one-star-ers have noted that this book is one of two things:

1. The Atheist Camp claim that this book is not as 'good' as the God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - the arguments are difficult to follow, it's not as scientific or academic as it might be.

Well, Christopher is not a scientist. The book is a fantastic diatribe against the parties of God - it doesn't claim to be anything more. It's a wonderful contribution to atheistic literature. It's funny, clever and well-researched. It's not supposed to be an academic thesis.

2. The God Camp claim that Hitchens succeed in attacking religion, but doesn't manage to prove that God himself does not exist.

While he outlines his reasons for not believing in God, Hitchens does not set out to prove that God does not exist. He sets out to do what it says underneath his main title - to demonstrate how religion poisons everything - and he does a fantastic job.

This book is highly recommended to those who want to laugh and cry at the same time.
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on 13 July 2013
Brilliantly sets up and then demolishes the arguments for organised religion. Agree or disagree it should make you think, but preaching to the converted, (or unconverted with me). Enjoy!
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on 10 July 2009
This book is an ideal read for those who doubt there is a God but would like to hear the case against explained in a forthright and occasionally humorous way. This book should also be read by anyone contemplating joining any organised religion. The sub title "How Religion Poisons Everything" may seem a little harsh until you hear Hitchens' argument. It's not a demanding book to read, its skips along at a fair pace and Hitchens' style keeps what could be a dry subject entertaining. Thoroughly recommended.
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on 2 June 2007
Firstly - I've read the US version of this book, "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything", this is why I can write a review.

If you just want to comment on Hitchens/Atheism in general (either for or against) then please do it somewhere else!

I wasn't the greatest Hitchens fan but I have to admit that this book is something special. It's well written with lots of entertaining anecdotes and is easily more readable than Dawkins "The God Delusion". The pages fly by and his points are interesting and well made.

Obviously I was expecting a rabid attack on all things godly yet Hitchens turns out to be cleverer than that. He insists that people should be free to believe what they want - they just shouldn't try to force their beliefs on others. There's the expected examination of the Abrahamic religions here (yes, including Islam) but also critiques of other faiths too. Intelligent and inventive, this was far far better than the book that I was expecting.

Overall it's a great read with a convincing message that has convinced me to look at Hitchens back catalogue to see what other gems are hidden there...

I dare you to read this!
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on 12 September 2012
After watching many debates in which Hitchens systematically picked apart many of the world's religions, I though that I must get this, the Hitchens 'Bible', for want of a better term.

An exquisite book with complex yet accessible arguments against a myriad aspects of almost every popular religion in the world. His case against Buddhism, as just one example, is both provocative and vindicating; highly educational.

A fantastic book for the non-believer, or the agnostic, or even the theist.
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on 18 August 2008
I was a convinced secularist before I started buying books on the subject. The first book I tried was Dawkins 'The God Delusion' and I found it rather disappointing. Perhaps the key reason is that Dawkins is a scientist while I am, if anything, a historian. Dawkins spent too much time for my liking showing how Darwin's theories are the answer to all the questions that religious people claim that their religions solve. The book was a struggle for someone like me who does not start with a good understanding of natural selection.

Hitchens on the other hand has produced a book that completely met my needs. The book gives a thorough account of the attitudes and beliefs of various religions, and, most important, their histories, the crimes that have been committed by them.

I must make it clear that I don't mean crimes committed by individuals who happened to profess some particular religion, I mean crimes committed by and in the name of the religion itself. The harmful effect that religions have on the young, the way they have persecuted anyone who is different, the hate that they irrationally generate, ....

Everyone with a modicum of education knows how the Catholic church forced Gallileo to deny what he knew to be true, and that the Dutch Reformed church supported apartheid. But I certainly did not know that Catholic support for the Nazis was so strong that when Hitler died Irish president de Valera dressed formally and went by stage coach to offer his condolences to the German embassy in Dublin. The book is full of accounts of religions' wickedness.

Indeed, the book presents the case against religion so forcefully that it is as if Hitchens is a barrister prosecuting religion in a court of law. Every crime, every fallacy, every wickedness is exposed. It is almost inconceivable that anyone who reads the book with other than a completely closed mind will be a believer by the time he finishes.

Unlike the Dawkins book, there is not one passage where the text makes difficult reading. As Dawkins himself is quoted as saying on the front cover (at least of the paperback edition) 'If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline.'

The case against religion could not have been more clearly or more comprehensively presented. An excellent book.
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on 27 September 2007
This book is a worthy companion to Dawkins "The God Delusion". Whereas Dawkins is a scientist, this author takes more of a historical perspective.

I have read a great deal of the current fashion of these type of books. I have enjoyed them all, but Hitchens is perhaps the best of all. He is fearless and expresses himself with great eloquence. You really have to admire his convictions, even if you do not agree with his every point.

Hitchens shows why he believes religion to be a consequence of our evolutionary childhood, why he believes it should not be considered a source of morality and all the ways in which it has demonstrated (he believes) its tendency to forster totalitarian malevolence.

It is unfortunate that many of the reviews posted are vitreolic arguements from pro- or anti-creationists. Clearly many people take great offence to their faith being questioned. But surely if ones faith is trully strong, they should be able to respond to such challenges in a positive way? It is scarcely likely that a book is going to change your lifelong held beliefs, so surely it can be read with an open mind as to understanding other peoples point of view.

The only criticism I would make of this book is that sometimes too much knowledge is assumed of the reader. At times I found myself having to contentrate quite hard as I was not overly familiar with the historical events.
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