Book Reviews

The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Movement

Posted on: Wed, 12th Oct, 2016
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

By: Stephen LeDew (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Review by: Dr Bill Cooke

The English historian Norman Stone once noted that doctoral dissertations are about amassing ponderous armies of facts to pursue a war of attrition on behalf of some trivial insight. The Evolution of Atheism, which is the result of Stephen LeDrew’s doctoral work, is an example of this genre. For the most part, the book is […]

The Evolution of Atheism: The Politics of a Movement

Posted on: Fri, 23rd Sep, 2016
Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

By: Stephen LeDrew (Oxford University Press, 2016)

Review by: Dr Bill Cooke

The English historian Norman Stone once noted that doctoral dissertations are about amassing ponderous armies of facts to pursue a war of attrition on behalf of some trivial insight. The Evolution of Atheism, which is the result of Stephen LeDrew’s doctoral work, is an example of this genre. For the most part, the book is […]

Wilma’s Story: Growing up in Nazi Germany and Colonial Rhodesi

Posted on: Tue, 23rd Aug, 2016
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Wilma Neumann (Hollander) Introduction by Doris Hollander Edited by Martin Page (Print Forum Ltd. (2016). 95 pages.)

Review by: Norman Bacrac

CHES member Martin Page is known to those interested in secularist history as the author of Britain’s Unknown Genius (1984), an account of the life of SPES Appointed Lecturer J.M.Robertson. As well as providing useful editorial notes to the text, Martin has written the Preface to Wilma’s Story, which is based on the autobiography of […]

Aspiring to the Truth: Two Hundred Years of the South Place Ethical Society

Posted on: Tue, 23rd Aug, 2016
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By: Jim Herrick (Conway Hall Ethical Society (May 2016), 248 pages, £12)

Review by: Norman Bacrac

Freethought author and member of the Society, Jim Herrick, was commissioned to write an account of the history of this Society from its inception in 1793 to date. The first history was written by Moncure D. Conway, the Minister of the South Place Ethical Society, entitled a Centenary History of the South Place Society (1894). […]

What Does Europe Want? The Union and Its Discontents

Posted on: Tue, 23rd Aug, 2016
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By: Slavoj Žižek and Srećko Horvat (Istros books (2013) 220 pages, £12)

Review by: Mazin Zeki

A double Freudian quote inspired by “What does a woman want?” plus the title of one of his most important works, raises the curtain on Slavoj Žižek’s (and Srećko Horvat’s) dissection of contemporary European woes. For Europe read EU. There is growing inequality which predated the financial crash but has been accelerated by it. There […]

Battling the Gods: Atheism in the Ancient World

Posted on: Thu, 26th May, 2016
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By: Tim Whitmarsh (Faber & Faber (2016))

Review by: Norman Bacrac

Tim Whitmarsh, Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge, has compiled a most valuable record of atheist thought in the ancient world of Greece and Rome. Humanists need to know this early history – it will prevent their believing that supernatural explanations of the world and religious morality predated naturalist and atheist outlooks. It may even […]

Islamic Fascism by Hamed Abdel-Samad

Posted on: Mon, 9th May, 2016
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

By: Hamed Abdel-Samad ((New York: Prometheus Books, 2016, 255 pp.)

Review by: Rumy Hasan

During the parliamentary debate on 2nd December 2015 on the bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria, Shadow Foreign Secretary Hilary Benn made an impassioned speech in favour of the government’s motion. A key reason he provided was that Islamic State were “fascists and fascists must be defeated”. This was a rare instance of a […]

THE CONSOLATIONS OF AUTUMN

Posted on: Mon, 11th Apr, 2016
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Hazhir Teimourian (Peach Publishing (2015))

Review by: Norman Bacrac

Radio, television and Times journalist Hazhir Teimourian gave the keynote speech at the Ethical Society’s Annual Reunion of Kindred Societies a few years ago; he has also spoken to the Society on Sunday mornings on the situation in the Middle East. In 1998, he gave four autobiographical talks on BBC Radio 4, entitled A Kurd’s […]

Breadline Britain – the return of mass poverty

Posted on: Mon, 5th Oct, 2015
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Stewart Lansley (with Joanna Mack) (Oneworld Publications (2015))

Review by: Tom Rubens

Stewart Lansley’s book Breadline Britain presents a concise and powerful analysis of the huge increase in economic inequality in Britain since the late 1970s. Today, the top 1% of the population possess a full 14% of national income. This is partly the result of the long-term decline in the share of economic output which goes […]

The Athiest’s Guide to Reality: Enjoying Life without Illusions

Posted on: Tue, 8th Sep, 2015
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By: bAlex Rosenberg (W.W.Norton & Co, London (2012) 320pp)

Review by: Norman Bacrac

Alex Rosenberg, a Professor of Philosophy at Duke University and co-director of its Center for Philosophy of Biology, wrote the book for “Non-believers who embrace the reality-driven life.” It’s a book for “Atheists who want to face up to its consequences” – i.e. that “the physical facts fix all the facts”. Alex expounded these ideas […]

The Trojan Horse: A Leftist Critique of Multiculturalism in the West

Posted on: Tue, 11th Aug, 2015
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By: Göran Adamson (Malmo: Arx Forlag, 2015)

Review by: Rumy Hasan

In the preface to the English edition, Swedish academic Göran Adamson of Copenhagen University points out that he had attended a Fri Debat event in Copenhagen but was unable to attend the following meeting – which was attacked by an Islamist in February 2015 that led to his colleague Finn Nørgard being murdered. Some 40,000 […]

From Monk to Modernity – The Challenge of Modern Thinking

Posted on: Tue, 11th Aug, 2015
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Dominic Kirkham (SOF (Sea of Faith Network))

Review by: Norman Bacrac

“I write as a victim …….to modernity” says Dominic Kirkham. “As one who was brought up a Roman Catholic, received all my education in Catholic institutes, becoming a teacher and then – after seemingly interminable years at a seminary – being ordained as a priest, and spending nearly thirty years in a religious order, the […]

The Faith I Left Behind

Posted on: Tue, 11th Aug, 2015
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Edited by Tom Flynn, Andrea Szalanski and Julia Lavarnway (Inquiry Press, Amherst, NY, USA)

Review by: Norman Bacrac

Free Inquiry invited its readers to submit autobiographical essays describing ‘the life-stance odysseys that had led them to their present positions of secular humanism or atheism’. An earlier and well-known exponent of this type of writing was Bertrand Russell’s essay Why I am not a Christian. The editors received forty-two essays, with titles ranging from […]

The Price of Being Human: My fight against the Mullahs 

Posted on: Tue, 9th Dec, 2014
Estimated reading time: 1 minute

By: Heydari Azam Hadj (HOMA Association, 2013)

Review by: Jennifer R Jeynes

First there was the Shah’s dictatorship, then that of Khomeini and the mullahs. Iran has been suffering for a long time. The totalitarian theocracy has executed over 120,000 of the opposition. Azam was a young Iranian girl who grew up in the poor quarters of Tehran.  Her father, as a supporter of the mullahs, did not think she should […]

Burne-Jones Talking

Posted on: Mon, 24th Nov, 2014
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

By: Burne-Jones Talking: His conversations 1895-1898 preserved by his studio assistant Thomas Rooke Mary Lago (ed) (London: Pallas Athene, 2012)

Review by: Ellen Ramsay

Edward Burne-Jones (1833-1898), Pre- Raphaelite artist and friend of William Morris, was known to exclaim, “Belong to the Church of England? Put your head in a bag!” The Catholic Church and its services were “wicked.” The Methodists produced “psychical difficulties” in the artist and a mosaic commission for the decoration of St. Paul’s Cathedral was […]

Book Review: A Short History Of Humanism

Posted on: Thu, 4th Sep, 2014
Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By: John Severs (Scarborough: Farthings Publishing, 2014.)

Review by: Charles Rudd

In this short book of 50 pages, John Severs brings together a wide range of subversive writers, from ancient times to Richard Dawkins, who dared to question religious (mostly Christian) doctrines and put forward alternative views, in some cases paying for it with their lives. Some of them are little known (to this reviewer at […]

Book Review: Eleanor Marx – A Life

Posted on: Thu, 4th Sep, 2014
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

By: Rachel Holmes ((Bloomsbury 2014)

Review by: Mazin Zeki

Biographies can transform the retelling of history and produce a romanticised and possibly distorted narrative. Eleanor Marx is one of those iconic figures who attracts biographies, well, because of her iconic status. Few of them contain new material and there is in fact little to add to Yvonne Kapp’s definitive two volume of the 70s […]

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