The Atheist: Madalyn Murray O'Hair

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
$57.60
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $2.88
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 95%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (15) from $2.88   
  • New (5) from $8.75   
  • Used (10) from $2.88   

Overview

In this first full-length biography of Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Bryan Le Beau offers an assessment of her beliefs and actions and a discussion of how she came to represent both what Americans hated in their enemies and feared in themselves. Drawing on original research and interviews, Le Beau traces O'Hair's development from a child of the Depression to the abrasive woman who founded the American Atheists, wrote books denouncing religion, and challenged the words "Under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, "In God We Trust" on American currency, the tax exempt status of religious organizations, and a host of other policies she felt violated the separation of church and state.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Forty years ago Madalyn Murray O'Hair was so notorious for her role in the Supreme Court decision banning prayers from public schools that she was, in the words of one Life profile, "the most hated woman in America." Although she assembled a nationwide movement of atheists and remained a thorn in the side of America's religious conservatives for nearly three decades, this biography more than ably reveals her limitations as a public intellectual and a social activist. In the opening chapters, Le Beau, a historian of religion at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, provides a thorough account of O'Hair's struggle to eliminate morning prayer from her son's junior high school, deftly portraying the anti-atheist sentiment of the Cold War era and fleshing out the precedents set by earlier Supreme Court interpretations of the separation of church and state. The book then continues with a look at her "caustic, sarcastic, even outrageous" rhetoric. But the biographical account is interrupted halfway through with two chapters cataloging the philosophical and historical underpinnings of O'Hair's arguments, before Le Beau resumes the depiction of her downfall and the bizarre circumstances surrounding her disappearance in 1995 and the subsequent discovery of her body. The consequences of O'Hair's arrogance and combativeness will draw readers in initially, but in the end, there's only so much to say about her; even academics may find the account padded with quotations from political debates and O'Hair's fan mail. However, with the Pledge of Allegiance facing the same challenge O'Hair mounted against school prayer, her story couldn't be more timely. (Feb.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Best known as a plaintiff in the overwhelmingly unpopular 1963 Supreme Court decision to remove prayer from public schools, American Atheists founder O'Hair (1919-95) earned-and obnoxiously promoted-her reputation as "The Most Hated Woman in America," a title granted by Life magazine. This comprehensive biography looks beyond O'Hair's grating public persona to reveal an extremely intelligent and shrewd woman with a passion for publicity and a distrust of organized religion. Among the book's chief characters is the Cold War itself-its paranoia, conservatism, and nearly pathological fear of all things "godless." O'Hair fought for the separation of church and state in an era that allowed for maximum controversy, and many of the events of her life were extraordinarily timed. Le Beau (history, Univ. of Missouri, Kansas City) presents a well-rounded and thoughtful treatment of O'Hair's life and times, and his knowledge and research are evident throughout. As much an exploration of church-and-state issues as the biography of a fascinating woman, this focuses on subjects that are often sorely lacking in critical attention and that have once again come to the fore with the recent controversy regarding the Pledge of Allegiance. This first serious consideration of O'Hair and her ideas is recommended for all libraries.-Christopher Tinney, Brooklyn, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“Clear-eyed and judicious.”
-The Women's Review of Books

,

The Atheist belongs on the short shelf of books on American atheism, church-state relations, and school prayer.”
-The Journal of American History

,

The Atheist is especially instructive today as issues of the separation of church and state continue to reverberate throughout our culture . . . well documented.”
-BOOK LOOK

,

“Le Beau offers an informative and melancholy portrait of self-promotion and folly.”
-American Historical Review

,

“Le Beau’s biography is the longer and better researched of two recently published lives of Murray.”
-The New Republic

,

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814751718
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 1/15/2003
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 1.06 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bryan F. Le Beau is Professor of History and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. He is the author/editor of several books, including The Story of the Salem Witch Trail and Religion in America to 1865 (also available from NYU Press).

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2007

    recommended

    This woman made her mark in history. This book will help you understand how. Maybe even why.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book gives a good insight on Ms. O'Hair and many of her beliefs. Atheist or not, you will realize this woman will go down in history.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)