A good anthology of brief and no-so-brief excerpts from a wide range of (mostly) atheist and agnostic authors, with brief but engaging introductions tA good anthology of brief and no-so-brief excerpts from a wide range of (mostly) atheist and agnostic authors, with brief but engaging introductions to each, and to the volume itself, by Hitchens. ...more
I'm biased when it comes to Barnes novels. I like his work enough that I wrote my MA thesis on what I saw as the theory of history that weaves its wayI'm biased when it comes to Barnes novels. I like his work enough that I wrote my MA thesis on what I saw as the theory of history that weaves its way through five of his novels (Flaubert's Parrot, Before She Met Me, Talking It Over, A History of the World in 10½ Chapters, and The Porcupine). And The Sense of an Ending is personally gratifying because it bears out my thesis. Barnes is a novelist very interested in what history is, how it gets recorded and transmitted, how essentially unreliable it is, and yet, at the same time, how essential it is to our lives. So, I really enjoyed this novel.
Fans of Barnes' work will appreciate it. I'm not entirely sure everyone else would. People who are unfamiliar with Barnes might not enjoy the pace of it. It is a brief but slow novel, focused on the remembrances of a retired man, thinking back on his time in school, and on the contrast between the two women who mattered most in his life: his wife, Margaret, from whom he is now divorced, and his girlfriend, Veronica, from whom is is now estranged. It is a novel in which what happens isn't as important as what the central character makes of what happens. So, to the extent that you enjoy being in the head of the point-of-view character, you'll enjoy the novel. And the converse, of course, is also true. I could say this about any first-person novel, of course, but it seems especially true of this one.
I read Harris' most recent book, "The Moral Landscape" (which I recommend) earlier this year, after seeing his amazing TED Talk which discusses many oI read Harris' most recent book, "The Moral Landscape" (which I recommend) earlier this year, after seeing his amazing TED Talk which discusses many of its themes. So I decided to give another of his a try. This is a brief polemic against religion in general and Christianity and Islam in particular. More than that, it's a collection of arguments in favor of science and rationalism generally, and against their opponents: faith and dogmatism.
"Letter to a Christian Nation" is a good, quick read and puts forth brief, well-reasoned arguments from many different angles about the ethical conundrums and outright suffering we find ourselves in as a result of basing public policy on religious belief, of the incompatibility of various religious beliefs, and of the fundamental disagreements between religion and science. Harris is a fine writer (and an even better public speaker) and is much more even-handed than his detractors like to depict him--who often, one can only assume, haven't bothered to read his books.
I should think that even readers familiar with atheism will find some novel arguments and useful facts here. I'm looking forward to reading his ideas in longer form in his first book, "The End of Faith." But, even sketched in brief, this is a good introduction to Harris' main concerns. ...more