I admit I am a huge fan of Christopher Hitchens and have enjoyed practically all his literary efforts immensely. He strikes me as extremely witty and intelligent and the points he makes (except for the justification of the Iraq war) are right on the money in my book.
HOWEVER, as a narrator, he falls flat. Literally. The narrative is monotone and devoid of any inflection whatsoever. Where in an interview he comes off as dry, here, reading his book, he is downright arid. The volume is low, the voice is expressionless and the ends of sentences are almost inaudible as his voice drops off. I could not listen to this in the car as it was putting me to sleep.
I had to go out and buy the book - and that was much easier to digest and enjoy.
While I found the book to be interesting and a worthwhile listen, I believe the author would have been prudent to have chosen someone else to read it. I found the author's speech patterns and modified British accent to be not only a distraction but a real hinderance to understanding what was being said. Too much "hissing" on the "esses" to suit me!
I can't even describe how frustrated I am by this author and his choice to read this himself. I'm lucky to understand 1 out of 4 words. The only way to understand this is to buy the book and read along with him.
Criminal defense Lawyer in Las Vegas, Nevada. Read mostly non-fiction.....history, science, military biography. My quirky side likes Zombie Books? Will also pick up a fiction bestseller once in a while. Favorite movie: Being There
First, this is one person's audiobook review and not a "for or against" religion tirade (which is commonly seen when "atheist" books are reviewed).
I thought Hitchens narration was good. What is lacking due to his not being a professional narrator is more than made up for by the fact that he is the author and seems to know the material (surprise!). He reads with flair and wit . . . and you get those classic Hitchens deadpan zingers in all the right places.
As for the substance. This was an entertaining listen with a lot of good ideas. Dawkins' (The God Delusion) is more scientific and Harris' (The End of Faith) is more comprehensive. Hitchens brings his ability to throw literary punches and intelligently rip into religion as the "product of close evolutionary cousins of the chimpanzee" This is a great book, whether you have Faith or not.
My suggestion is Sam Harris first, then Dawkins, then Hitch.
(Disclosure: I have been an atheist since I could think for myself and these new series of books on the subject are a godsend. How many times can you read Bertrand Russell and George Bernard Shaw?)
The author should not narrate his own book. He is difficult to understand with his accent, pace, and volume.
The book was very interesting but difficult to listen to for long periods of time.
I am Agnostic. I can agree with a lot in this book, however the author continues to claim that "religion poisons everything" yet he will attend his friends religious celebrations (such as a barmitzva), why would he do so if religion poisions everything. I don't beieve religion poisons everything. He does not mention the good things religion adds to society. I don't know if their is a God or not. I tend to believe in some sort of intelligent design. Take the Honey bee for example, each honey bee at birth seems to know how to make a complex honeycomb house (beehive) that we humans have borrowed that design to build modern aircraft core. How does the bee know how to do this? I think that it was designed that way or otherwise enscribed in its DNA. The author argues that we as humans are Not Great either. He protests that the human eye is very simple, and not complex compare to say an eagles' eye. I disagree on that also. An eagle may be able to spot something far away, but the overall combination of functions in the human body (including the human eye) have taken us to heights the eagle will never reach. The author focuses on the negative and claims that Atheism will make one happier. This is not the approach humanity should take to better the human condition. While we should rely on science we cannot rely on it wholly because our knowledge is ever changing and never perfect. We should be balanced between science and hope of something bigger than us, something that may be unseen with the human eye but perhaps felt in our hearts. I give the book one star do to the topic being very important yet the author failing to deliver a balanced portrayal of religion. The author also slurs his speach. He has a tendancy to speak loud and clear at the beginning of his sentance than drops of to a quiet mutter at the last few words. That makes him sound sophisticated but compromises the clarity.
The narrator sounds so pompous and overjoyed at the words coming out of his mouth that I couldn't get past the first 15 minutes.
I couldn't even get through this book. I regret buying it. Not because of the content, but because of the poor audio quality and poor narration. It was difficult to understand the narrator.
Though this anti-religious polemic makes some interesting points about the issues surrounding blind faith, fanaticism, and many aspects of religiosity, I doubt he'll get a whole lot of converts from it. There were a number of times in this book I wanted to go and take philosophy classes because I just knew he was making erroneous claims and assumptions; I just didn't know what they were called.
On the plus side, while this book did absolutely nothing to shake my faith, it did an excellent job of making sure I'm not taking it for granted. I do agree with his assessment that religion is not off limits for serious consideration and philosophical or scholarly investigations. I do have a slight quibble with his assertion that it should be scientific, because faith and God and religion are often as difficult to study scientifically as imagination or love or hate. Just because they can't be quantified and dissected doesn't mean they cannot exist.
My other complaint is that he too often jumps to conclusions because they are "obvious" or something that any "school child should be able to see by now." Not only is this a weak argument that is also incredibly insulting and patronizing, it is the same argument that religious thinkers have been using (I think Thomas of Aquinas used it quite frequently, in fact-and I know Absalom did).
All that being said, it makes a good addition to any readings of an examined faith, which is something to not be taken advantage of. He also brings up some very interesting issues about many religions, including strange admonitions regarding sex, the birth canal, and diet. He did a good job of putting words to why I converted from Catholocism, in fact.
While I think these are excellent at explaining what errors religion has made, it does not make a good argument to dispose of religion and faith all together for materialistic atheism.