I've bought myself a copy of Walter Sinnott-Armstrong's book, Morality Without God? Sinnott-Armstrong is a respected philosopher, not least by me, and I look forward to reading what he has to say. But I was immediately struck by a quote on the back cover from a review in Publishers Weekly. This says, among other things, "... Sinnott-Armstrong provides a welcome relief from the apoplectic excesses of Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens..."
Oh dear. If the Publishers Weekly reviewer said that, then, okay, the Publishers Weekly reviewer said that. But what an obtuse thing to say. Since when can Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens seriously be accused of "apoplectic excesses"? Dawkins is notable for being polite, rather gentle, though sometimes wickedly funny. Hitchens often spoke in a forthright way, but it was always measured - and again, his speeches and writings were laced with humour. Neither is notable for speaking or writing in a way that resembles somebody having an apoplexy.
I often think that these reviewers have no sense of tone at all, at least when it comes to debate about religion. They can't comprehend the tone of someone who unambiguously opposes religion, but communicates in an intelligent way about it. Any unambiguous statement of opposition to religion gets categorised as angry, strident, "apoplectic", etc.
But more importantly ... come on. Isn't it getting a bit unoriginal to praise every academic book in support of an atheistic viewpoint by comparing it to the nastiness of Dawkins or Hitchens? This is such a cliche by now. It's a bit like saying of every new fantasy book that it's comparable to (or better than) The Lord of the Rings.
Come on, reviewers, you can do better this. So can you, publishers - surely you can find more interesting quotes to use on back covers.