From Publishers Weekly
Journalist and biographer Aikman offers a spiritedly unsympathetic review of the new atheism represented by Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell
), Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion
), Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation
), and Christopher Hitchens (God Is Not Great
). As might be expected from any one author simultaneously engaging four opponents, Aikman struggles at times amid a flurry of arguments and counterarguments. Still, many of his criticisms score on their targets. Aikman reads the new atheists in historical perspective as the heirs of Voltaire, Marx, Feuerbach and Mencken, as well as in their immediate setting of post-9/11 fears of religious extremism and discontent with the Bush administration and its perceived evangelical leanings. While not an expert on all the issues the new atheists raise—chapters on science and biblical criticism rely heavily on arguments made by other reviewers—Aikman speaks effectively to the interplay between religious belief (or disbelief) and politics, whether among the American founders or in contemporary North Korea. But after criticizing the new atheists' inflammatory rhetoric, Aikman does not always rise to a higher level himself: references to Harris's drug use and Hitchens's communist past and drinking habits become gratuitous. (Apr.)
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About the Author
Dr. David Aikman
is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, a best-selling author, and a foreign policy consultant based in the Washington D.C. area. His wide-ranging professional achievements include a twenty-three-year career at Time magazine, serving for several years as bureau chief in Eastern Europe, Beijing, and Jerusalem, his reporting spanning the globe and covering nearly all the major historical events of the time.
Dr. Aikman was educated at Oxford University and holds a PhD from the University of Washington in Russian and Chinese history.