The Best of Robert Ingersoll
© 1993 Roger Greely
This week, I was able to read through a collection of quotations by Robert G. Ingersoll under the title of “best of”. The quotations are introduced by a biographical essay of Ingersoll, then organized by alphabetical topic and take up most of the book, with a few short speeches — one for his brother’s funeral and others honoring recently deceased poets, scholars, and other men whom Ingersoll admired — near the end. The book’s appendices are written by the editor of the book and concern the history of his birthplace museum and various things said about him by contemporaries after his death. The book is shorter than I expected, and did not contain the text of larger lectures as I anticipated before seeing the page count. The quotations included, however, are some of his best — and even included some I have never encountered before. The image of Ingersoll that comes forth through these selections is one of a passionate and intelligent man, every bit the “preacher of humanity”. His quotations regarding religion are particularly strong, displaying why I like Ingersoll so much: he doesn’t just roar at orthodoxy, he celebrates humanity and exhorts his listeners to think for themselves and live more deeply in love. He is the quintessential Humanist.
The book is an obvious recommendation to Robert G. Ingersoll fans, but should have strong appeal to skeptics, atheists, rationalists, skeptics, the liberal religious, science supporters, and especially humanists.