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Christopher Hitchens: The Portable Atheist

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Hitchens, Christopher. The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever (Philadelphia: Da Capo, 2007)

Dedicated to Primo Levi, Hitchens opens this anthology of atheism with a pair of Levi quotes (from If This Is a Man and The Drowned and the Saved). At nearly 500 pages of god-free goodness, Hitchens has assembled a hefty supplement to several recent books (Huberman's Quotable Atheist and Konner's Atheist's Bible) of atheist-oriented aphorisms. The long selections clarify their authors' reasoning where the words of religionists often get increasingly muddled and obscure as their word-count increases.

The luminaries selected by Hitchens represent the darkness-dispelling efforts of millennia, and illuminate the main strands of freethought since the dawn of civilization. Between Lucretius' De Rerum Natura and Ayaan Hirsi Ali's "How (and Why) I Became an Atheist," forty-five other selections every atheist except the most bookish will find some new thought worth considering. As famed Utilitarian John Stuart Mill wrote, "The world would be astonished if it knew how great a proportion of its brightest ornaments--of those most distinguished even in popular estimation for wisdom and virtue--are complete skeptics in religion..." (p. 60, "Moral Influences in Early Youth: My Father's Character and Opinions" from his Autobiography)

After the current crop of atheist polemics, this is the next indispensable volume.

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