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God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything Hardcover – May 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 307 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve Books; 1st edition (May 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446579807
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446579803
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 6.4 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,532 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,266 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hitchens, one of our great political pugilists, delivers the best of the recent rash of atheist manifestos. The same contrarian spirit that makes him delightful reading as a political commentator, even (or especially) when he's completely wrong, makes him an entertaining huckster prosecutor once he has God placed in the dock. And can he turn a phrase!: "monotheistic religion is a plagiarism of a plagiarism of a hearsay of a hearsay, of an illusion of an illusion, extending all the way back to a fabrication of a few nonevents." Hitchens's one-liners bear the marks of considerable sparring practice with believers. Yet few believers will recognize themselves as Hitchens associates all of them for all time with the worst of history's theocratic and inquisitional moments. All the same, this is salutary reading as a means of culling believers' weaker arguments: that faith offers comfort (false comfort is none at all), or has provided a historical hedge against fascism (it mostly hasn't), or that "Eastern" religions are better (nope). The book's real strength is Hitchens's on-the-ground glimpses of religion's worst face in various war zones and isolated despotic regimes. But its weakness is its almost fanatical insistence that religion poisons "everything," which tips over into barely disguised misanthropy. (May 30)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* God is getting bad press lately. Sam Harris' The End of Faith(2005) and Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion (2006) have questioned the existence of any spiritual being and met with enormous success. Now, noted, often acerbic journalist Hitchens enters the fray. As his subtitle indicates, his premise is simple. Not only does religion poison everything, which he argues by explaining several ways in which religion is immoral, but the world would be better off without religion. Replace religious faith with inquiry, open-mindedness, and the pursuit of ideas, he exhorts. Closely reading major religious texts, Hitchens points to numerous examples of atrocities and mayhem in them. Religious faith, he asserts, is both result and cause of dangerous sexual repression. What's more, it is grounded in nothing more than wish fulfillment. Hence, he believes that religion is man-made, and an ethical life can be lived without its stamp of approval. With such chapter titles as "Religion Kills" and "Is Religion Child Abuse?" Hitchens intends to provoke, but he is not mean-spirited and humorless. Indeed, he is effortlessly witty and entertaining as well as utterly rational. Believers will be disturbed and may even charge him with blasphemy (he questions not only the virgin birth but the very existence of Jesus), and he may not change many minds, but he offers the open-minded plenty to think about. June Sawyers
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was the author of Letters to a Young Contrarian, and the bestseller No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family. A regular contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly and Slate, Hitchens also wrote for The Weekly Standard, The National Review, and The Independent, and appeared on The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Chris Matthew's Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and C-Span's Washington Journal. He was named one of the world's "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect.

Customer Reviews

Nephi's father in the Book of Mormon is Lehi, not Lephi.
Christopher Johnson
One of the best (no, scratch that, it was the best) books I read this summer is Christopher Hitchens' God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.
Ugo Cei
This is a very well researched book that is very well written.
John Alberty

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2,791 of 2,986 people found the following review helpful By Scott Bresinger on May 14, 2007
Format: Hardcover
After looking through some of the other customer reviews found here, I was dismayed by the amount of "blog-style" entries: that is, people who may have only glanced at the title or saw Hitchens promoting the book on CNN or YouTube and decided to just speak up, either in support or condemnation. However, if you're curious about the book and just want to know what to expect, may I humbly offer some actual information?

Hitchens, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, author of books too numerous to mention and contributor to smaller magazines such as Free Inquiry, adds to the recent renaissance of pro-atheist books with his own provocatively-titled contribution. Whereas Sam Harris (The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason) sees dire warnings and Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion offers a defense of science, Hitchens uses his long experience in journalism to illustrate the madness that results when faith is unchallenged by reason. Dawkins has been criticized for adopting a harsh tone (an assessment I disagree with), but Hitchens is the one who really pours on the anger and witty derision.
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671 of 734 people found the following review helpful By Kashyap Deorah on August 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My favorite part of the book is the last third. By that time Hitchens has made his arguments about how Religion Poisons Everything and is now rebutting the best intellectual arguments against his thesis. What would become of human decency, morality and ethics without religion? How do you address the inherent human need to believe in something and take comfort in a higher power? What are the god-less alternatives and aren't those institutions as bad or worse? Doesn't religion provide stability to society by pacifying individuals in times of darkness and uncertainty? It is hard to sum things up and provide sound bytes about something as complex as religion, but my take-away from this book is that any religion (by design) has the ingredients of becoming totalitarian, when successful; and totalitarianism of any kind leads to ultimate power corruption.

Hitchens makes his arguments and rebuts the best counter-arguments with passion and panache. If you are amongst the majority of people in the world - believers - his irreverent sense of humor may lead you to immediately brush him off as a partisan hack; while the unbelievers will get a kick out of each of the thousands of punchlines that Hitchens artfully mumbles. However, if you belong to the third category - an intellectual who chooses to look beyond a bi-polar view of the world when it comes to religion - I would urge patience with Hitchens' indulgence as a genius linguist (when you have it, it is hard not to flaunt it!) and you will find this book extremely rewarding and will not go un-satiated. If you are seriously debating the merits and demerits of religion as an institution in the society we live in, you have glanced at the perfect place, no matter what your affiliations.
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281 of 315 people found the following review helpful By Blake Cormier on July 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have never read a book that so matter-of-factly and flawlessly made its argument seem the only possible point-of-view. This book could possibly be the most important and relevant piece of literature written in the past decade. Christopoher Hitchens so effortlessly weaves a tale of religion's many downfalls that it sometimes seems as if his subject has done the research for him. In a world where people who look inward for strength are ridiculed, persecuted and often brutally abused, raped or murdered by those who look toward the sky for guidance and find solace in cartoon-logic, this book serves as a beacon of hope for those, like myself, who sometimes feel weakened beneath the burden of Mankind's history of savagery. I bought this book as soon as I heard it had been written and every page has been incredible. The writing style might be a bit too literate for some, which has already - in the case of certain neo-religious talking heads, Denis Prager for example - lead to bad reviews by means of excluding some for its readership, but the patient or already well-read (open-minded) audience will find it a delightful read.

I'll end with one of my favorite quotes from the book:

"The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals."
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192 of 214 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When the powers that be were considering Mother Theresa's name for sainthood, Christopher Hitchens bravely made the case to the Vatican - and to the public, via his book "Missionary Position - against her. Braver still, I remember, when the pope died, the deluge of obituaries, all glowing - except one: that of Christopher Hitchens who pointedly reminded us that this man had overseen the largest child-sex-abuse ring on the planet and took positive steps to shield others from prosecution.

For all of Hitchen's bravity and brevity, I can only give this book 3 stars. The reason has less to do with Hitchens work in it than others work before it. Quite simply, there are too many other good books out there presenting the case - a compelling one it is - for atheism. From Sam Harris's terse and tightly argued "Letter to a Christian Nation" to Richard Dawkins' monumental "God Delusion" atheism has, I think, better "spokespeople" elsewhere.

Hitchens' most obvious problem (one that alsow mars Dawkins only slightly, and touches Harris not at all) is that he write - well - almost too passionately! It is obvious that Hitchens not only dislikes, but hates, religion. Quite simply - and ironically, as this is a charge leveled at religionists more frequently than atheists - his passion gets in the way of his ability to present a reasoned case!

But the largest problem, from a scholarly standpoint, is that for every chapter in this book there is a chapter in another book that does it better. Hitchens has little experience with philosophy, but tries to make a philosophical case against design that is done better by Dawkins and, most memorably before him, Bertrand Russell.
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