Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson

By Jennifer Michael Hecht
Read by Martha Harmon Pardee

24.65 Hours 07/29/2009 unabridged
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In this sweeping history, Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty. Just as belief has its own history featuring people whose unique expressions of faith forever changed the world, doubt has a vibrant story and tradition with its own saints, martyrs, and sages. Hecht shows that the great doubters ponder the same issues as the great believers. She celebrates such heroes of doubt as Confucius, Socrates, Jesus, Wang Ch’ung, Hypatia, Maimonides, Galileo, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Emily Dickinson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Margaret Sanger, people who drove history forward by challenging the powers and conventional wisdom of their time and heritage.

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Summary

Summary

In this sweeping history, Jennifer Michael Hecht celebrates doubt as an engine of creativity and as an alternative to the political and intellectual dangers of certainty. Just as belief has its own history featuring people whose unique expressions of faith forever changed the world, doubt has a vibrant story and tradition with its own saints, martyrs, and sages.

Hecht shows that the great doubters ponder the same issues as the great believers. She celebrates such heroes of doubt as Confucius, Socrates, Jesus, Wang Ch’ung, Hypatia, Maimonides, Galileo, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Charles Darwin, Marie Curie, Emily Dickinson, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Margaret Sanger, people who drove history forward by challenging the powers and conventional wisdom of their time and heritage.

Editorial Reviews

Editorial Reviews

“A bold and brilliant work and (lucky us) highly readable, thanks to the elegant and witty author.” Garrison Keillor
“Hecht, a historian and poet, aims to give doubt its due in her lively and endlessly provocative new book…a continuous and intricate narrative of doubt.” Christian Century
“Jennifer Hecht’s romp—light hearted but serious—brings to life an awesome array of figures in philosophy, science, and literature, in a way that is wonderfully engaging.” Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States
“Hecht gleefully invites readers on a lively stroll through three millennia of clashes between believers and nonbelievers.” Detroit Free Press
“Hecht is right that doubt’s story deserves to be told…[and] she tells it in just the right spirit…Hecht is a rare doubter who can simultaneously disagree with people of faith while granting them respect and taking their ideas seriously.” Alan Wolfe, New Republic
“Hecht’s poetical prose beautifully dramatizes the struggle between belief and denial…Writing with acute sensitivity, Hecht draws the reader toward personal reflection on some of the most timeless questions ever posed.” Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] sprawling, magisterial, and eloquent chronicle…Hecht’s warm prose, lucid insights, and impeccable research combine for a lively, thoughtful, and first-rate study of a neglected idea. Highly recommended.” Library Journal
“A remarkably wide ranging history.” Booklist (starred review)

Reviews

Reviews

Author

Author Bio: Jennifer Michael Hecht

Jennifer Michael Hecht, an accomplished historian and an award-winning poet, earned a PhD in the history of science from Columbia University. She is the author of The End of the SoulScientific Modernity, Atheism, and Anthropology in France and coauthor of the major textbook Western Civilizations: The Continuing Experiment. She lives in New York City and is an assistant professor of history at Nassau Community College.

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Details

Details

Available Formats : Digital Download, CD, MP3 CD
Category: Nonfiction/History
Runtime: 24.65
Audience: Adult
Language: English