Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. His numerous books include Letters to a Young Contrarian and Why Orwell Matters.
Since the publication of his best-selling secularist manifesto, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens has become a visible and vocal advocate, along with fellow atheists Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris, of a return to Enlightenment values and a rejection of religion. The Portable Atheist continues that agenda by collecting a diverse sampling of secularist literature that spans more than two millennia. Each selection includes a short introduction by Hitchens that explains its historical context, its significance, and its influence on the development of secular thought. The 47 readings here represent a broad cross section of literature by nonbelievers, with selections from poets, novelists, journalists, philosophers, and scientists. Gathered here are many of the best-known secularists, from Lucretius and David Hume to Bertrand Russell and Carl Sagan. This collection also includes previously unpublished works by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Nicholas Ball provides versatile and nuanced readings across multiple genres, from the lilting verse of Omar Khayyam's The Rubaiyat to the denser prose of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan. Ball should capture the attention, if not the sympathies, of believers and unbelievers alike. Highly recommended for all general library collections, but particularly those with large religion, history, and philosophy holdings.--Philip Bader, Pasadena, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"Hitchens has returned to the Belief Wars backed by a full army...the Godless Warrior marshals in an Atheist A-Team...to buttress his own arguments...Hitchens is the guide as well as the commentartor linking it all together."--"San Diego Tribune"
Interconnecting a vast range of sources from Lucretius to more contemporary authors, Hitchens brings together a mix of naysayers and skeptics regarding religion and, in particular, God. While not all of his selections are by fervent atheists, Hitchens connects them in such a way as to explore how and why people have rejected religious beliefs throughout the ages. Additionally, he provides valuable introductions to many of the pieces, situating them for the listener in the context of his overall argument. While some provide great insight and questions for listeners, others are only tangentially relevant. Nicholas Ball has an agreeable voice, but when transitioning from introductions to the excerpt, he rarely pauses and listeners may not even realize the excerpt is being read. His timing and speed may work well with other material, but lacks the reflection and nuance needed for this diverse and complex work with many different writing styles. Simultaneous release with the Da Capo hardcover (Reviews, Oct. 29). (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.