I had trouble with the Introduction to this book. It came across to me as arrogant and self-aggrandising. I don't really go for writing that tells me in great detail why and how they wrote it. I just want the author to get on with it! But after getting past that -- wow! I was hooked! The essential premise of this book is that, once religion came along (especially monotheistic religions), humanity lost its freedom and was seduced into rejecting everything that makes us human. In particular, religions that shunned natural human activities (eating, drinking, sex, etc) in order to "see the face of God" (ie, to become holy or to enter into the presence of the holy), have destroyed the essence of who we are and robbed us of pleasure, happiness, and our essential human nature. Vitaly Malkin is not a philosopher or theologian. But the extent of his research and knowledge is mind-blowing. He writes clearly and is a pleasure to read. It's a big book and Malkin goes into incredible detail. But its depth and breadth were fascinating and I was never bored. This is the first of a series and I can't wait for the next one.