In order to be prepared to read this book with engagement, you need to read this book first.
If you do not know anything about these men before you start, then you will not retain much of the information given to you. There is a wealth of useful historic perspective, and the ideas are fairly well-represented.
My recommendation is to get a corkboard and tack up pictures of the main guys, how they connect, and use a whiteboard to diagram the important tenets of their beliefs. Then you MIGHT have a chance at keeping track of everything. Had I done that, I would rate this 4 stars.
This book is tailored to a very narrow audience: Christians who need to be told how to relate to the holy spirit.
I read this book as a non-theist hoping to understand how Christianity makes sense of 'personal relationships to Jesus Christ'. While I would not say that this objective was achieved, I can confidently say that the book was useful in an indirect way. My words to describe the lessons I learned are not pretty, so I shall stick to production notes.
This book is simply not organized. After every section, chapter, and at the end, I was left wondering how to summarize anything. The author fills the pages (i.e., his objective was to fill pages) by giving some poorly-constructed principle, then justifying it with cute stories that largely don't explain the nuanced unease left in your mind. The stories take up easily 70% of the book, and are rarely more than tangentially related to the principle. Then there's his take on theology. With a proclaimed respect for it, he quickly abandons intellectual honesty and choses to interpret bible verses to suit his semi-coherent theories. I rated the book 2 stars instead of 1 because it is not just one big mess, but rather a big mess with lessons to be learned. The smart will grow smarter, and the stupid will become happier.
Crudely, listening to this was like listening to a man who wants to be perceived as wise and seasoned. If you can fill in the "rather than", then this review was effective.
A note on the narrator, Maurice England. When the author muddles his words, it's understandable if not just unpleasant. When the specially selected narrator does it, it's simply offensive.
This interview will not help you decide on purchasing the book proper. It will, however help you understand more about Dawkins' motivations in writing.
I jumped into this with the desire to understand the most popularized version of lassaiz-faire economics. It became apparent to me that there was no such treatment to be found in the book. I've read about a quarter of the way into it, and I have decided to abandon the project for other exploits. Yes, I've heard about the famous Galt monologue. No, I won't read it all - here's why.
When Rand decides to abandon real human interaction in favor of artificial preaching, she invariably just says "I [Rand] believe that might makes right [or any other suitable proposition]. Why? Because it's clearly true." Without presenting so much as a shred of evidence that she understands how people function, let alone why her pop-philosophy is to be taken seriously, she's successfully used an old trick: telling you what to think without the compliment of telling you why.
The many reviews and discourses I've read suggest that fans of Ms. Rand are looking for something smart and sophisticated to justify their beliefs post-hoc. And no, you are not allowed to redefine "moral" to mean what we would commonly think of as "amoral self-interest". Believe it or not, structuring a society around helping each other is moral. Letting the vaguely-defined "great" men do their thing simply because they have vision will often lead bad things.
Any book that is longer than the complete Hebrew-English Tanach had better develop a plotline. This does not develop fast enough. The characters don't act like real people. If you want suggestions of what to do with your great burning spirit, I suggest F. Nietzsche.
If you're still reading my review, then let me state that Rand can be very descriptive in her usual paragraphs. If you want a more concise, perhaps even believable version of her objectivism, skip this and move to The Fountainhead. It's much more manageable, and the focus on an artist instead of a capitalist is far more appropriate to matters of spirit.
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