This was a very enjoyable listen. It took a little while but once I settled into this book I really enjoyed John Lee's reading. I am not a student of this time period in history and this book gave me a great broad understanding of and exposure to many events I had heard of (and many I had't) but would have been hard pressed to explain or put in context. This sparked my interest in specific subjects that I can delve into deeper. I doubt a knowledgable history buff would learn much new or hear any critical insights.
In the end that is where the book fell a bit short for me. I suppose there was so much material to cover that there was little room for historical retrospective. I was also hoping for more background on the influence of ancient writers and thought and how it shaped events.It would have been more engaging if there was more focus on the development of thought and knowledge and the struggles it caused.
Ultimately the history of this time period (and alas much of human history) can be summed up thus .... dates, Kings, Popes, conquests, mass murders, ruthless power struggles and untimely deaths ... rinse and repeat. There were very few heros beyond the inventors, artists and thinkers.
I found it interesting to realize that this book was one of the first popular books to thoroughly and unabashedly lay out the arguments against theism (specifically Christianity) when it came out in 2004. And as the author points out it was the best selling book on atheism on Amazon for several years until Dawkins's "The God Delusion" came out in 2006. What a short time ago and yet so much progress for atheism has taken place since then and Mills therefore deserves at least some credit for helping to raise the credibility and exposure of the arguments that are becoming part of the discourse. There is not much here that can't be found elsewhere (much produced since this book was published) but he presents the arguments in clear and understandable terms with examples, analogies and metaphors. Like many of the popular atheist authors he clearly uses the book as a platform to launch attacks on individuals who sit on the opposite side of the argument. I never find this constructive and he at times miss construes the points of fundamentalist opening himself up to criticism for use of strawmen. For example his assertion that their only concern for pornography is for youth (vs. also for married people). These quibbles aside, this is a great book for someone looking to get up to speed on a wide range of atheist views particularly if you are looking for very logically structured method (lots of numbered lists of points) versus the conversational style of others like Harris and Hitchens.
This was a enjoyable run through a few millennial of science. It took me a while to get used to the readers voice but once I did I actually started to like it. It definitely made some concepts for this nonscientific listener more understandable. I definitely recommend
What a nicely written and read book. Given the scope of the subject and rather modest ambitions of the author there will inevitably be many topics missed or given limited depth. But a fine balance was struck. It is perhaps the only audio book for which I never had a desire to listen to at a faster rate, rather choosing to linger on the words and savior the narrative.
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