©2007 Christopher Hitchens; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
"The best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos." (Publishers Weekly)
"Effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational." (Booklist)
Foxish, with some Hedgehoggery.
Wow. I started reading this at 6am on a Saturday morning and could not stop until finished that evening.
I've seen Hitchens before on news programs, and the man's opinions and intellect are irrepressible so I had some idea of what I was in for. Still, this book is just amazing. Bracing. Uncompromising. Informed. Secular.
Hitchens' assault on Religion is without reprieve and may serve as a significant crossbeam in the structure of any atheist's mental architecture. I imagine that the faithful reading this to 'study up on the enemy' will find only things that make them very angry or uncomfortable. I do NOT think Hitchens will lead to any conversions; his style is far too abrasive. However, some folks do respond best to aggressive intervention.
For me though, the best of this book is the clear breadth and depth of the author's mind. I simply cannot recall the last time I read anything so damned erudite. Agree or disagree with him, Hitchens is an amazing American intellectual.
From here, I'm actually returning to one of Hitchens' cited authors, Bart Ehrman, whom I've explored only marginally before, but that is one of the real joys of this book –if you're a sincere explorer, Hitchens points out a dazzling number of fascinating areas on the map of human progress to explore yourself. Even if you don't accept his conclusions, you may be reminded of all those Enlightenment and earlier figures who form the dim constellation of our understanding that you glossed over in (perhaps graduate-) school, if at all. I'm certainly inspired to brush up.
I love that this is narrated by Hitchins himself, which seems the best way to experience it. Those who feel they may need to recall and reference his arguments again may want a visual version in print or ebook format, but, especially now that esophageal cancer has taken his voice from him, I feel very fortunate (dare not say blessed!) to have this edition.
Okay, I'm officially angry--people have written reviews here claiming Hitchens's reading of his book is inaudible or full of mumbling. My fear is that you will read those reviews and decide on that point alone to eschew purchasing this book.
Let me elucidate this for you: on perhaps 3 occasions in a book of more than 8 hours, Hitchens ends a sentence so quietly that its very hard to hear what he's saying. That's it. Juxtapose this non-issue with the insuperable benefit of having Hitchens read his own work. He knows just where to put the emphasis, where to sound incredulous. When he says "I" he really means it because its HIM talking. Couldn't have asked for a better reader. The book itself is plainly fascinating. Hitchens once said in an interview that one should read books which make one feel inadequate (in the positive intellectual sense). God Is Not Great is one of those books. Guaranteed to be one of the best credits you'll ever use. This book spurred me to research Hitchens and I discovered he is quite a remarkable man. The most impressive thing about Hitchens and his writing is probably his vocabulary. It's simply daunting and highly educational to listen to this book. And that's to say nothing of the immensely lucid, incisive, prescient and thoroughly convincing content of Hitchens's thesis that religion is man made and presents the greatest threat to the continuation of human prosperity. This is one of those "must read" books regardless of which side of the issue you fall on. Note: Make sure to complement Hitchens with Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion) and Sam Harris (The End of Faith), both of whose major atheist texts are available in unabridged form on Audible, and both of which are as excellent, if not quite as succinct as Hitchens's book. For the best opposition view, read Dinesh D'Souza's What's So Great About Christianity?
Christopher Hitchens is a brilliant man. In my personal opinion I can't think of another living human being who I would consider more intelligent. He is also an independent thinker. Those who know him, or come to know him will quickly realize that he holds a set of beliefs that are combined. For example, while he is against religion, he is also against abortion.
I would highly recommend this audio book. It is read by Mr Hitchens. While some previous comments have pointed out that he occasionally doesn't do the greatest job, I think this is more than compensated for because you really get the feeling that your listening to him give a talk to a group of people.
After listening to Christopher Hitchens' own oral reading of his book, I read a few reviews online. While most praised the London-born Vanity Fair columnist's prose and wit, many took him to task over alleged wild generalizations and selective readings of supposedly sacred texts and events.
Never mind them. Hitchens' book is a scathing -- and, were this a just world, sobering -- examination not only of the tenets and histories of the three "big box" monotheisms of the world, but also of the idea of religion in general. While Hitchens lays out very specific cases against Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (he even reserves a lengthy chapter for the fallacies inherent to the supposedly benign "Eastern" religions), his most potent vitriol is reserved for that universal class of charlatans who have made their living out of the cynical and systematic usage of mankind's vestigial fear of the unknown.
Hitchens' draws on religious texts (including the Torah, Bible, and Koran) as well as many religious writers from throughout history to make his often hilarious and well-reasoned case against God.
Channeling Voltaire, he muses that instead of God creating man in his own image, man creates God in his.
Hitchens' accent is very light, and on the whole he is very enjoyable to listen to, although he occasionally mumbles and is prone to finishing paragraphs off with a somewhat louder final phrase. However, he is careful to pause clearly when quoting any lengthy passages.
"God Is Not Great" won't appeal to believers, but for anyone who is cynical toward the overall effect religion has had on world history and humanity, look no further.
It's true, Hitchens may mumble and he speaks with a British accent. To allow this to obscure the important ideas that he explores is a mistake. If it's sound ideas you're after, God is Not Great has more than can be absorbed in a single reading. The book is more than worthy of the minor effort.
I'm persuaded by God is Not Great that any good that religion may accomplish can be better achieved without religion and, conversely, the worst evils will arise from religious belief, as they always have.
Hitchens strengthens my view of religious faith as a barrier to clear thinking. It was refreshing to see his clinical treatment of religion in America, something Americans can't seem to do. The Mormons are one of his examples. Few in the US either know enough or have the nerve to discuss Joseph Smith as the sexual predator and con man that history shows him to be, or analyze the timely "revelations" that have kept the Mormons clinging to the fringes of viability through the years. The Mormons are only one of the book's examples of how fast a religion can spring from a fertile mind and spread to infect millions. Hitchens makes a good case that we in America are uniquely susceptible to such charlatans (although England's new relationship with Islam would make equally fascinating reading).
Those who are religious merely out of habit or a failure of introspection may be the ones to embrace the rationale of 'God is Not Great' most easily. The grimly devout will probably respond to Hitchens' ideas with the usual vitriol. They may rightly sense the inherent threat that such rational treatment of the 3 main religions' histories poses.
I ended the book seeing that we're in a bit of a Dark Age and won't be free until the majority see religious thinking as the human invention that it is, and the devout minority are relegated to the same status as conspiracy theorists and UFO seekers.
I saw this guy interviewed on the Daily Show a couple weeks back and I was intrigued by what he said was in the book, so I picked it up. When I saw it was narrated by the author, I was originally put off -- on the Daily Show he was a bit of a slow talker, and generally the authors don't do as good a job as professional narrators. But the editor did a good job chopping out the pauses, and Hitchen's tendency to mumble his hard consonants was not too bad unless there was a lot of noise in the gym.
The book is... ah, I'm not quite sure how to describe it. A screed against religion, I suppose. Initially it seems to be a long essay on why atheism... or perhaps Atheism... is the proper way to go if we as a planet are to move on. But it often devolves into a series of anecdotal vignettes on why religion and the religious are bad for... well, everything. Many times this is fascinating and sometimes it's a bit unfair (he tends to cherry-pick assumptions and forgive ignorance cases where it helps his cause and lambaste it in places where it does not), but it is always very entertaining.
I enjoyed the dense allusions to classical literature and puns; pretentious maybe, but if you are reading the book you'll probably like it too.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
So you've read Bertrand Russell's 1927 essay Why I Am Not a Christian and you're wondering why read Hichens? It's more than cold, hard logic about only Christianity. So you say you've read Sam Harris, The End of Faith and you're wondering the same thing? Well, Hichens is more than just about indicting Christians and really slamming Muslims. He's not so much about promoting atheism as Richard Dawkins as he is about promoting reasoned thought and critical thinking. Thinking that includes the unmasking of violence behind pacifist Buddhism which blew my socks off.
And what about that mumbling narration by the author? Is it that bad? It really is. I would have thought that a book this good with so much to be proud of, the author would have taken more care to enunciate a little bit more clearly. So here is what I would recommend: wear earphones. I have Bose noise-canceling earphones that worked just fine. Listening in the car did not work at all. One of the best parts of the book, the author's wit, is lost in his endings of so many sentences into audible unintelligibility. The author has a beautiful voice and I loved listening to it... when I could hear it.
So why read/listen to this book? It is just that good.
Hitchens is brilliant, and funny as well. I truly enjoyed his little jabs that are sometimes so subtle that one wonders whether he intended any injury, however slight. His references to solipsism are "spot on", as is much of what he says. He's a splendid example of a British wit, yet a man who is concerned, in his deceptively casual manner, with the rise of religious extremism in America and the world.
Though I continue to find points of light in religion, I insist that what Hitchens and his fellow post-911 atheists (esp. Harris) have to say.
My only objection is to his narration. I appreciate the privelege to hear the author narrate, and his voice does not annoy, but his casual intonation and lack of clarity make him hard to understand at times. I just heard Hitchens interviewed today, and curiously, I think his delivery was clearer. Perhaps the chore of narration bored him a bit. Of course it's the duty of an Englishman to sound bored, so who knows?
In any case, I enjoyed the audiobook immensely, but I may have enjoyed the printed book a bit more.
Great book and I thought Hitchens narration made it even better. Those that say Hitchens should not have narrated his own book have it wrong. This book is written in typical Christopher Hitchens speak. Anyone else narrating it just wouldn't have been right as they broke the mold after Hitchens was born! LOL
You do not have to be an atheist to enjoy the book. Just gives you another perspective. A+++
Atheists suffer the same basic weakness as the religious. They believe themselves to know the truth. This author, thankfully, doesn't have the all-knowing tone of, for example, Richard Dawkins, and that makes the book a more enjoyable read. Hitchens freely admits that, for a long time, religion was the only option to explain much of the world. Contempt is reserved for those who, when confronted with new knowledge, retreat from it. I've no doubt it would still piss off the devout...but the book explains the reasoning behind atheism in a very straightforward, comprehensible way. This is the book I'd give to my mother to explain why I won't go to church with her anymore.
Final note: Looking at previous reviews, I'm compelled to mention that I understood the author's voice perfectly. I believe having him read benefits the presentation, since it adds genuine emotion to the reading. But, I'm using an iPod. Your results and sound quality may vary.
"A Great Work of Truth"
A great book read by the man himself. Today is a sad day indeed.
....One of my first audiobooks and still one of my favourites.
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