The Portable Atheist
Selected and with introductions by Christopher Hitchens
Da Capo Press £10.99
After setting the non-believing cat among the devout pigeons in America, Christopher Hitchens compiles an anthology varied enough to entertain atheists, agnostics and believers alike.
Pugnaciously introduced, its excerpts range from Lucretius to Penn Jillette, the US magician. Mark Twain blames Christianity for slavery (fun but inaccurate), and John Betjeman’s well-heeled Tory at prayer is gently satirical. Philip Larkin’s lovely “Aubade” and “Church Going” transcend polemics. Hume’s conjecture that new universes would be needed to house immortal souls is met by Boswell’s indignant rejoinder that the “spirit does not take up space”. The big guns – Shelley, Marx, Darwin, Rushdie – are here, plus delightful discoveries.