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Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt Hardcover – June 1, 2012
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“An entertaining and informative look at America’s culture war from a writer who has been embedded in the front lines.”
Harvard College Professor of Psychology
Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of our Nature
—Reverend Barry Lynn
Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State
“Herb Silverman’s lively history of an atheist raised as an Orthodox Jew fills a real gap in the literature of the ‘New Atheism,’ in that it describes the emergence of a creed based on human goodness without godliness in highly personal rather than abstract philosophical terms. In an account that will resonate with people raised in all faith traditions who have made the same journey, Silverman captures the essence of what it means to realize that you think differently from those around you—including the people who brought you into this world.”
author of Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism
“It isn’t often that inveterate honesty and inviolable reasonableness are combined with such a sweet disposition and a wonderful sense of humor. Those who don’t yet know Herb will find in this wonderfully entertaining tale of how he became a fighting atheist a man of true wit, true warmth, and true wisdom.”—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction“Herb Silverman has long been one of the most important secularist activists in the United States. With this book, you’ll find he is a wonderful storyteller as well. Herb’s warm and thoughtful self-portrait shows what it can mean to be both Jewish and a Humanist. And his story of running for governor of South Carolina as an open atheist is laugh-out-loud funny and worth reading for anyone who ever loved and/or hated the bizarre but hopeful theater that is American political life.”
Harvard Humanist Chaplain and author of Good Without God
“Dr. Silverman is certainly unique for Charleston, maybe even unique for anywhere. When he came down here as a fine math professor but a cultural fish out of water, he simply created a flood of reason in which his newly discovered fellow infidels could swim. Herb presents a rational and persuasive alternative to those of faith, both with his words and his behavior.”
—Judge Alex Sanders
Former President of the College of Charleston and Founder and President of the Charleston School of Law
“Iconoclastic atheist, humorist, and mathematician Herb Silverman takes you on an entertaining tour of his irreverent life, so far.”
Lawyer, social critic, and author of seven books
"Religious and irreligious people alike can learn from this book lessons about tolerance, freedom of expression, good manners, goodwill, and the importance of not stereotyping but the lessons are not presented in a holier-than-thou tone, as is often the case in the religion vs. science debate."
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
And another thing you need to know: full disclosure; I am a personal friend of Herb's and therefore am biased in his favor. But I'll try to be objective.
As depicted in this book, Herb's journey is divided into three distinct phases. Phase 1 is a boyhood trapped in an insular Jewish community in Philadelphia (and you know what W.C. Fields said about Philadelphia). His family was isolated from mainstream American life not so much by religiosity as by ethnic clanishness, a deep suspicion of "goyim" and a refusal to recognize our common humanity. Herb was a quiet kid, not one (yet) to stir any revolutions, lest he risk the ire of his dominant mother, who tolerated no dissent. So he kept his own counsel throughout phase 1.
As far as I can tell, the only significant initiative Herb displayed during the mother-dominated phase of his life was during his career as a teenage "hustler" selling refreshments to patrons at sporting events. There he fomented a minor labor rebellion, and also seized on an almost legal way to make extra money by upgrading spectators to better seats. No, I won't tell you how he did it; you'll have to read the book.
But despite his silence, in young Herb's breast beat the heart of a rebel (and still does). He was apparently born with a built-in B.S. detector.Read more ›
This is a book that I think Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, and other Reason Movement people would enjoy.
This book is about humanism, politics, civil rights, religion, first amendment, separation of church and state, all with humor.
Candidate Without A Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt
By Herb Silverman
Forward by Richard Dawkins
Review by Tim Campbell
Print version published by Pitchstone Publishing 2012. E-Book published by American Humanist Press 2012. 252 pages.
First, a word about the E-book format. This is American Humanist Press's first title to be published as an E-book. It is also coincidentally the first E-book that I have dealt with. I am by nature a traditionalist. I want to have the feel of paper in my hands and the smell of a printed book permeating the air around me! But this is a pretty cool format with a suite of interactive features that made it different and worthwhile. Videos of the author and interviews with the author are a bonus that quite frankly cannot come with the printed version! And between each chapter, there is an interactive Q/A link that allows the reader to join in and contribute to the process! I would read more books published in this format, especially if they included these nifty little "special features".
"If a man is going to publish his life story, he had best take the precaution of leading an interesting life first. Or at least being a very funny writer or of lacing his pages with wittily unconventional wisdom. Or even of being just an exceptionally nice person. Fortunately, Herb Silverman ticks all these boxes, and more."
Author and biologist Richard Dawkins sums up this book in that opening paragraph of his foreward to CANDIDATE WITHOUT A PRAYER, by Herb Silverman. If I typed "THE END" now and let it go at that, I would feel like I've done my job!Read more ›
I've read quite a bit on arguing against religious belief, and this book is similar in many ways because much of it is devoted to introducing atheism to a reader who is "on the fence" regarding belief while persuading them away from supernatural thinking. Too often though these books read like textbooks and they all start sounding the same. Candidate Without a Prayer sets itself apart because Herb crafts the conventional arguments in the framework of his autobiography. Some highlights are when he attends a twelve-week Bible study class and ends up teaching as much as he learns, writing a joint newspaper column with a former religion news editor where they both set aside their differences and craft an inspiring piece on the views they have in common, and his critical essay on the hypocrisy of the Catholic Church where he makes a mostly-tongue-in-cheek case for why he should be elected the next Pope.
Herb Silverman's greatest strength is his willingness, even eagerness, to engage those who disagree with him. He may not always change his mind, but one can tell he's genuinely listening.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As a mathematician who lives and works in the South, but was not born there, the stories in the book felt so familiar that there were moments when I wanted to interrupt Herb... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Valentin Andreev
Herb, I wish I had known about you sooner. When it came to Silverman atheists David was the only name that came to mind. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Eric Lichtenstein
What a great story! Having been raised, at the exact same time frame - in a Jewish neighborhood, as a only child (Gentile)(goyim) I can really relate! Read morePublished 7 months ago by Redjohn
Hilarious account of a thoughtful and rational man's experiences dealing with insane and irrational political and judicial systems.Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is one of the best books i have read about not beeing a religious person. It's written with a sense of humour, common sense, and a sense of reality. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Dorothea Myriam Chansky
Absolutely hilarious and very well written. Points out what can often be only labeled "bullying" by the Christian majority.Published 21 months ago by Brooke
A hilarious book. But, at the same time a sad commentary on certain segments of society who believe being an atheist or humanist is akin to being a demon. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Scoop
This man is a charming story teller and a model for secular humanists everywhere. His story is funny, happy, sad, and eventful. Read morePublished on March 15, 2014 by Amazon Customer
Funny and engaging. Regardless of your views on religion or god this book will capture your attention and make you smile. Enjoy!Published on January 14, 2014 by JR