Thursday, July 31, 2008

I just finished Freethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan Jacoby.

It made an interesting companion piece to With God On Our Side, the book on the Religious Right I read a while ago.

It is a pretty interesting book, about a topic that is not much discussed. I knew about the Deism of many of the Founding Fathers, and that they had pushed for a separation of church and state, but I didn't know that many of the Protestant sects at the time had also pushed for the separation due to worries about established religions acting against them. I also didn't know about some key figures, like Robert Ingersoll, who gave popular lectures all over the US in the 19th century even though he was a militant secularist.

There are some weaker parts of the book - Jacoby spends a lot of time talking about the abolitionist, suffragette and civil rights movements even though all three of those movements were not solely, or even primarily, secular movements. All three did involve secularists in one way or another, but that doesn't justify the depth she goes into. Another weak point is an odd omission - there is no discussion, or even mention, of Ayn Rand, probably the most popular and influential atheist philospher/author of the 20th century.

1 comment:

Virginia said...


Great post!

I think it is so important to keep the history of the suffragettes alive so people will appreciate their opportunity to vote.

If you are interested in all of the twists and turns that played into women winning the vote way back when, you will find "The Privilege of Voting" fascinating.

I am the author of this new and exhaustively researched historical e-mail series that tells the stories of suffragettes.

I know this is a different way to tell a story, but I am trying to make learning women's history exciting, easy and fun!

This serialized novella goes behind the scenes in the lives of eight well-known women from 1912 to 1920 and reveals the sexy, shocking truth of HOW the suffragettes won the right to vote in England and America.

Presidents Roosevelt, Wilson and Harding are featured, and the women depicted include two presidential mistresses, Edith Wharton, Isadora Duncan, Alice Roosevelt, and two of the most beautiful and outspoken suffragettes, American Alice Paul and Brit Emmeline Pankhurst.

But this is no boring history report. The chronological series is written in a unique, fun short story format called Coffeebreak Readers.

There are weddings and funerals, babies in peril, damsels in distress, war, peace, broken hearts and lots of hot extra-marital affairs! The best part is that it's ALL true!

Each action-packed episode takes about 10 minutes to read, so they are perfect to enjoy on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

You can subscribe to receive free twice-weekly e-mails at:

Best to you,

Virginia Harris
Series Author