Christopher Hitchens is a widely published polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York.
In November 2006, Wired magazine published an article called "The Church of the Non-Believers," which profiled the new atheism movement along with its proponents: the formidable Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. Missing from this erudite lineup was the learned Hitchens, journalist and contributing editor to Vanity Fair. Fortunately, Hitchens disseminates his views here, cataloging the major arguments against religion, which he deems a pernicious force. First, he writes, faith misrepresents the origin of the cosmos as well as that of humanity; second, it fosters servility, solipsism, and sexual repression; and, third, it is based on wishful thinking. Hitchens spares no targets in this manifesto, criticizing both Western and Eastern faiths. Ultimately, he calls for a "New Enlightenment" and the pursuit of "unfettered scientific inquiry." This provocative, challenging, and passionate work--a religious believer's and apologist's nightmare--is recommended without reservation for public and academic libraries.--C. Brian Smith, Arlington Heights Memorial Lib., IL Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"[An] impressive and enjoyable attack on everything so many people hold dear... Hitchens has outfoxed the Hitchens watchers by writing a serious and deeply felt book, totally consistent with his beliefs of a lifetime. And God should be flattered: unlike most of those clamoring for his attention, Hitchens treats him like an adult."--New York Times Book Review
"[Hitchens] has somehow turned out an atheist book that, whatever one's stance on divine providence, is thoroughly enjoyable...in its profane interrogation of the sacred, [it] achieves a kind of joyous impudence...His narrative leans briskly and unrelentingly forward, subverting an unsettling all kinds of complacencies, religious and otherwise."--Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal