Editor of the Library of America volume of pulp-sf master H. P. Lovecraft’s work, Joshi is ardently atheist. Less stylistically idiosyncratic than Lovecraft, he is as readable. If he doesn’t deliver the evolutionary account of modern atheism the subtitle promises, he introduces 14 hard-core religious skeptics sympathetically and literately. He praises all, but dissects the shortcomings of not only uncouth Madalyn Murray O’Hare, who got prayer out of America’s public schools (and wrote so badly that Joshi’s prose degenerates writing about her), but also august T. H. Huxley and Bertrand Russell. Others discussed are Leslie Stephen, J. S. Mill, Nietzsche, Mark Twain, Clarence Darrow, H. L. Mencken, Lovecraft, Gore Vidal, and best-selling contemporary God-scoffers Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens. More temperate than most of his subjects (though his observations about Voltaire and Whittaker Chambers are, respectively, unconvincing and false), Joshi shares with them the canard that failing to find a physical God disproves his existence. Philosophically informed theists will hardly agree, but even they will enjoy and learn from his presentation. --Ray Olson
makes compelling and informative reading. Joshi's decision to approach a history of atheism through a series of biographies is richly justified: in absorbing these fourteen portraits one will absorb a surprisingly comprehensive and nuanced narrative of how contemporary atheism has taken shape.”
"In this important, incisive work S.T. Joshi paints sympathetic yet critical portraits of fourteen representative nontheists of the past century and a half, particularly those who have been outspoken in their opposition to conservative religious traditions and ideas.... This new and original book merits a wide audience."
, president, Americans for Religious Liberty