William Winwood Reade (1838–1875)
The Martyrdom of Man (1872)
The Martyrdom of Man (1872) is a secular history of the Western world. In it, Reade attempts to trace the development of Western civilization in terms analogous to those used in the natural sciences. He uses it to advance his philosophy, which was secular humanism. He attacks traditional religion and morality.
Reade was an atheist and a social Darwinist who believed in survival of the fittest and wanted to create a new civilization.
Cecil Rhodes, an English-born South Africa politician and businessman, said that the book "made me what I am".
The title of the book is well known to many who have not read it: in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of the Four, Sherlock Holmes says to Dr. Watson: "Let me recommend this book, -- one of the most remarkable ever penned."
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