Christopher Hitchens is a widely published polemicist and frequent radio and TV commentator. He is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York.
In 2002, Hitchens appeared before a Vatican committee in the nonofficial capacity of advocatus diaboli, or "devil's advocate," to argue against the beatification of Mother Teresa. In his latest best-selling book, he adopts a similar role to articulate his case against the relevance and utility of religious belief. Once a budding theologian in short pants, the young Hitchens revolted against all things religious when one of his teachers suggested that God made vegetation green because it was more pleasing to the human eye than any other color. This teacher of firm but obtuse faith, by the author's calculation, set him firmly on the road to atheism. Hitchens takes all religions to task for their willful disregard of scientific fact, common sense, and even basic human decency. He is at his most entertaining and provocative when confronting particular faiths (his depiction of the rise of Mormonism and the canonization of the Muslim scriptures in particular), but his relentless dismantling of the creationist, or intelligent design, movement provides more substantial fare, as does his defense of a wholly secular morality, a theme that informs each chapter of the book. Given the levels of violence, intolerance, and oppression committed by and in the name of religion, Hitchens argues, the claim that religion makes humanity better--and, conversely, that the lack of religious belief destroys any foundation for a functional morality--remains a spurious one. Hitchens also proves to be a more than capable reader; his wit, erudition, and passionate unbelief could not have been conveyed as compellingly by a surrogate, though perhaps his reading of the introductory quotations that head many of the book's chapters might have been rendered with a little more enthusiasm. Highly recommended for all general collections.--Philip Bader, Pasadena, CA Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
"[An] impressive and enjoyable attack on everything so many
people hold dear... Hitchens has outfoxed the Hitchens
watchers by writing a serious and deeply felt
book, totally consistent with his beliefs of a lifetime.
And God should be flattered: unlike most of those clamoring
for his attention, Hitchens treats him like an
adult."--New York Times Book Review
"[Hitchens] has somehow turned out an atheist book that, whatever one's stance on divine providence, is thoroughly enjoyable...in its profane interrogation of the sacred, [it] achieves a kind of joyous impudence...His narrative leans briskly and unrelentingly forward, subverting an unsettling all kinds of complacencies, religious and otherwise."--Joseph Rago, Wall Street Journal