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American Infidel: Robert G. Ingersoll Paperback – January 1, 1993

4.7 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Freethought flowered in the United States in the latter half of the 19th century, and its best known advocate was Robert Green Ingersoll, a lawyer and Civil War officer, who travelled the continent for 30 years, speaking to capacity audiences. Although his repertoire included lectures on Shakespeare, Voltaire and Burns, the largest crowds turned out to hear him denounce the bible, and religion.

From the Back Cover

Rediscover Robert Green Ingersoll. Celebrated orator of 19th century America, lawyer, Civil War officer, personal friend of three U.S. presidents, the individual most responsible for the flowering of freethought in the United States. "Freedom was what he preached; he wanted the shackles off everywhere, he wanted men to think boldly about all things; he demanded intellectual and moral courage. He wanted men to follow wherever truth might lead them. He was a rare, bold, heroic figure." (Robert M. La Follette, Wisconsin Governor, U.S. Senator, Founder Progressive Party) "His life and work have been an inspiration to the whole earth." (Luther Burbank, Naturalist) "One of the constellations of our time . . . a bright, magnificent constellation." (Walt Whitman, Poet) "No finer personality ever existed." (Thomas A. Edison, Inventor) "One of the bravest, grandest champions of human liberty the world has ever seen." (Clarence Darrow, Attorney, Civil Rights Advocate) "How handsome he looked as he stood on that table, in the midst of those 500 shouting men and poured the molten silver from his lips. What an organ is human speech when it is employed by a master." (Mark Twain, Author, Humorist, Lecturer) "No other loss, outside of my own family, could have filled me with such sorrow. The future historian will rank him as one of the heroes of the nineteenth century." (Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Feminist, Suffragist Leader) "To the lovers of liberty everywhere, but chiefly to the youth of America who did not know Robert G. Ingersoll, remember that he helped to make you free." (Edgar Lee Masters, Poet)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 316 pages
  • Publisher: Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. (January 1, 1993)
  • ISBN-10: 1877733334
  • ISBN-13: 978-1877733338
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,327,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on September 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This biography is well researched and well written.It covers Robert Ingersoll's life and the progression of his beliefs from his Christian upbringing, through his role as America's preeminent freethinker / atheist.The book shows Ingersoll's brillance in causing others to think for themselves in matters of religion, and explaining his reasons for challenging the Bible and Judaic-Christian orthodoxy. Ingersoll is also shown to have been an outstanding lawyer,political strategist, husband, father, friend, patriot,benefactor, and citizen. He lived his beliefs.
The book shows how the theologians of the time attacked him personally, when they could not combat his ideas on the merits. He was a pioneer of atheistic apologetics, and he paved the way for subsequent like minded people to be able to exercise their rights of free speech on topics which, prior to his efforts, would have exposed them to imprisonment for blasphemy. This biography covers the nation's presidential politics from Lincoln through McKinley. I enjoyed the book and will read it again.
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What I realized from this book is that my ancestors, who where were life long Republicans, have no relationship to the Republicans of today. Ingersoll represents the party of Lincoln, Grant, and TR.

Ingersoll was the leading speaker and agnostic of that day. Although, agnostics of the day were not able to hold office, he was the confident of presidents, introduced by leading ministers, and well respected by the media. How sad that his vision of infidels being more and more accepted has not yet been realized.

He was a person of great integrity. A genuine Civil War Hero who turned down a Generalship to end the war with his troops. Who knowlingly lost a bid for Governor by speaking the truth about his beliefs.

Let me also recommend Grant, by Jean Edward Smith, which gives a flavor for the President who preserved the Union for and after Lincoln.
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Having read extensively over several years every Ingersoll lecture, interview, essay, etc. that I could possibly find, it was truly wonderful to be able to go behind the scenes for a change and get an up close and personal glimpse of Colonel Ingersoll's life from his early childhood all the way to his very last moments at home with his family in New York.

His surprisingly close relationship with his reverend father, from whom Ingersoll obviously inherited much of his deeply held reverence and affection for the institution of family; his many political aspirations that never quite came to fruition (luckily for us!); his uncanny and almost comical ability to lose tens of thousands of dollars in whatever business venture he chose to invest his wealth; the author has filled the book with these and many other personal gems from Ingersoll's life that one cannot get from studying his lectures alone.

I am always overjoyed and at the same time deeply saddened each time I learn something new about this great American, one who did so much to advance the cause of liberty and freedom in our country and yet today garners little or no recognition at all. Do yourself a favor, and take the time to get acquainted with one of the great patriots, orators, freethinkers, and champions of human liberty and freedom!
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"American Infidel: Robert G. Ingersoll," a biography by Orvin Larson (copyrighted by him in 1962) was reprinted as a second edition in 1993 by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Foundation calls itself "a nonprophet nonprofit and nation's largest atheist/agnostic group, working to promote the separation of state and church." One of their public signs, erected very near a Christmas-time manger scene, as you might recall, said in part: "There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."

Larson's biography follows Ingersoll as a lawyer, Union colonel in the Civil War, anti-slavery activist, beloved family man, sometime politician, and nationally popular speaker.

Ingersoll preceded by some 150 years a number of today's prominent unbelievers. Chiefly these are the so-called "Four Horsemen of New Atheism": Sam Harris "The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason," 2004), Richard Dawkins ("The God Delusion," 2006), Daniel Dennett, ("Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon," 2006), and the late Christopher Hitchens, ("god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," 2007).

Christopher Hitchens, who died in December 2011, was quite outspoken, seeming willing to debate all comers. He denied life after death, saying that death ends human existence, that we will feel no regret about dying, because we won't even know we are dead. We will simply be dead. After death there is no reward, no punishment.

Richard Dawkins contrasts the "Strong theist" (100% believer) and the "Strong atheist" ("I know there is no God.").
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Quickly: How many people do you know who could identify R.G. Ingersoll? After reading this (relatively) short biography, it will become apparent that many others should read it. This man was an important part of our National conscience. He brought an important part of our being back into the public discussion. We were founded as a secular nation (for those doubting this - for whatever reason - read our treaty with Tripoli negotiated under Washington and signed under Adams 1797/1798) and keep being run over by Christians who are (mis) led by the fringe from the right. We need people like R.G. Ingersoll. We need to know what he did and we have to have the courage to speak out.
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