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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 5 August 2012
Calling this 'portable' could give the impression of a lightweight work. Rather I think this offers solid foundations of the atheist view. I am still coming to terms with my new-found atheism and this book has been an eye-opener about the history of the questioning mind. There is a variety of views and styles on offer and I couldn't put it down. Despite Hitchens's name on the cover this is not a polemic against religion, rather it sets out the arguments and lets them speak for themselves. Epic.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2009
With believers on the back foot, resorting to "evangelical atheism" taunts against anyone who dares challenge their ideas, the measured and incisive writing in this collection would open their eyes - if only they would dare look. Alas, I suspect that the readership will be those who do not need convincing. Those who are prepared to believe the irrational simply don't want to be challenged by cogent argument - it frightens them. Nevertheless, the selections articulate ideas that many of us have but can't put into words with such ease. I recommend it without hesitation.

A favourite citation is this, from Penn Jillette, :
"...everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day."

What more does a person need?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2013
Truly excellent, Hitchens has put together a superb work of reference for people interested in this crucial subject, I would recommend this book to any thinking person.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2012
Hitchens again shows his genius by putting together this superb collection of writings as an introduction to many top freethinkers. As a one stop shop for finding reasons to support the view that there is no supernatural realm this book is excellent. For a balanced view it is important to have a good grasp of the main reasons for and against in the debate about religion. These articles show a myriad of reasons to think that the priests who wrote Old Writ were giving only their own opinion and were not receiving any e-mail, fax, text or letter from gods. The priests were in fact installing themselves as Gods. As Salman Rushdie sort of says in ch 43 'That's not to say that their opinions can't be part of the conversation about what is the best way to behave'. The Golden rule is found in most religions and as Hitchens says it is a good first base rule of thumb.

I have especially enjoyed:
chapter 10 Evangelical teaching by George Eliot 1855 ( very perceptive )
chapter 26 An outline in intellectual rubbish by Bertrand Russell- V. funny
chapter 29 The God hypothesis by Carl Sagan
chapter 39 If God is dead. Is everything permitted ?
chapter 44 The Koran, from ' Why I am not a Muslim ' by Ibn Warraq

I used to be stuck in Christianity. Having read many of these views elsewhere I find that my interpretation of the Bible has changed alot. As Daniel Dennett might say, " The spell has been broken " and as Victor Stenger might say, " I've realised that God is a failed hypothesis ". I find the Bible more interesting now. As Isaac Asimov noted, the Bible is our best evidence of the non existence of God. The Bible has been part of the development of civilization and contains both ideas which are helpful to a free, blossoming society and also ( probably far more ) ideas which are dystopian and can be used to form oligarchy. However if you approach the Bible with the benefit of the critical view of the writers in " The portable atheist " then you hopefully won't get mugged by the malware virus it contains.
Since Old Writ is clearly very flawed it is most probable that there are no Gods but I like to think that a hypothetical loving good God would have taken everyone to heaven or let them cease to exist & RIP anyway. But then such a God would have prevented crime too. Are the angels too busy singing to help down here?
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on 30 July 2013
Review: "The Portable Atheist" by Christopher Hitchens

This book contains essays on the views of 47 famous authors, past and present, on the possible existence or non-existence of god, each in an independent chapter of its own contained within 480 pages. It has been edited in a similar style throughout and as each chapter is independent of the next, I could read a few pages or a chapter or two at a time and not lose the thread when I resumed reading later, even much later. Thus I was able to spread reading the book over a period of weeks and at my choosing without loss of continuity.

Whether the reader is a believer or not, this book will not be the decider, but it will illustrate that many great thinkers have given this matter some serious thoughts. Coupled with other threads on ancient religions and traditions, each reader should soon form their own perspectives of their beliefs, because if you have started your journey in searching for answers, surely you will find it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2013
If, like me, you need writers like Hitchens to help you rage against the dying of reason - I mean, Halal meat is now one of the fastest growing food trends in the UK, what is THAT all about with its inherent cruelty and madness! - then books like these really are essential reading. The carefully selected essays and excerpts are beautiful. There is beauty in writing but not in God. God is a cruel fantasy. Read and weep.
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on 12 May 2014
Hitchens as done here a wonderful job of collecting here the works of great free-thinkers, rationalists, agnostics and atheists all through the ages. Some of these i was already familiar with yet others were new to me introducing me to some great pieces of writing. This book makes for excellent short reading with each chapter on average being 10-15min long allowing you get a bit of reading done as you await a meal order or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Its very quotable allowing you to quickly look up a counter argument to any theistic argument while also providing some pleasant reading with poetry, novel extracts and short essays. It has my full recommendation to anyone who wishes to join the ranks of the New Atheism movement
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on 16 June 2009
Take a look at the contributors in this work. The most brilliant minds of the last 2 millenia. Just read it and make your own mind up because no review is going to do it justice.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 22 April 2012
An historically comprehensive synopsis of atheist/agnostic thinkers and writers over two mellenia in the face of blind religions. Atheism is not a new phenomenon and either is challenging authority and this book is an account of that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2013
I expected a smaller book with more of Mr Hitchen's own ideas. But it is nice to see some work that has inspried the inspirational.
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