The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer Paperback – 6 Nov 2007
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"Reading all these essays together is an intellectually invigorating experience this is a fine anthology and a provocative challenge to believers." --Metro (London) 14th November 2007
"(a)t 500 pages this excellent anthology is only just portable, but it is the perfect Christmas stocking-filler for the atheist in your life." --The Guardian
"(a)fter setting the non-believing cat among the devout pigeons in America, Christopher Hitchens compiles an anthology varied enough to entertain atheists, agnostics and believers alike." --The Financial Times
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Top Customer Reviews
The readings are well chosen and Hitchens provides a little introduction and context to each section (if I had one minor complaint it would be that these intros could have been even longer, they were fascinating in their own right). He also provides an overall intro to the book as a whole.
If I was to direct someone, atheist or theist, to a single book to explain non-theistic world views to them, it would have to be this.
Particular highlights for me were the writings of Mark Twain on the Church's position on slavery, and also a remarkable deconstruction of every Christian argument regarding morality and God by Elizabet Anderson. Its one of those books that I'd love my wife and my Christian friends to read. Sadly, the bubble of false consolation and cognitive bias appears overwhelmingly strong. My experience tells me that the only evidence that Christians can cope with is Christian evidence. A truly impartial assesment of the available evidence from both sides seems a pose a real challenge to them.
In short, it contains all the quotations and arguments an atheist might ever need, to win the inevitable arguments, in which we find ourselves so often. On top of that, it's contributors are witty, brilliant and mostly very readable. For those believers of one persuasion or another, who wish to confront the atheist argument; stay away from this book, unless you're ready to face the truth.
Good old Hitchens, his selection of writings is perfect, as we've come to expect.
Some of the writings are a little difficult to read as their use of English is very dated. The book starts with the work of an arab and ends with how a Somali woman left her faith.
There is an excellent piece by one of the Penn and Teller magicians. If nothing else, read that one.
A word of warning: the first 100 pages are a bit sticky to wade through. This is because the book's essays are arranged in chronological order so we start with some ancient texts where the English is very heavy and dozens of commas adorn each sentence. There are some wonderful points made of course, but extreme concentration is required to pick them all up.
Things brighten after that and the book becomes highly readable. The majority of the essays are informative, stimulating and beautifully written. Highlights for me included Dawkins (as ever), who once again comes over as the world's best science writer, Larkin's stirring poem Aubade, AC Grayling's succinct essay, Can An Atheist Be A Fundamentalist?, and Ibn Warraq's brilliant dismantling of Islamic beliefs. If only Muslims would read it - but if they did they'd likely just throw it on the nearest fire.
We have much work to do. It may be a thousand years before the awfulness of religion is eradicated from the world, but books like this help: they perpetuate the `drip-down' effect. In the West we were well on the way to eradicating it before several million Muslims came to live here. Personally I doubt that nothing but a devastating clash of civilizations can be the result (we have of course already seen such clashes). Reading this book underlined my belief that this will be the case.
In conclusion, this book is highly recommended. If you only buy one atheist book buy this one (although The God Delusion is also fantastic).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I love the 'Hitch', & this book (which has taken me 4 months to read!) was a very welcome Xmas pressie from my son. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Steve Cann
Another triumph for Hitchens. A collection of erudite,amusing and downright hilarious articles demonstrating the idiocy of the religious. Read morePublished 2 months ago by johnk42
The late Christopher Hitchens was an amazing character and his wit always made me laugh. I have enjoyed reading of Christopher's books and works. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tywin Considine
Pages 475 to 494 are missing in the book, but I've got replacement next day.
It's "portable" but a quite good brick to read. :)
Apart from Hitchen's own arguments, a collection of dissenters' writings through the ages. Up to date. Mainly showing the evil that was promoted through the old testament. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dileep Damle
what else can I say about hitch other than he was a genius god rest his soul :)Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
Other people reach for their bible. I'd sooner reach for this.Published 6 months ago by Doors of Perception