I've been a fan of the good Mr. Hitchens for a few years now. Though being as young as I am means that I've only recently come to appreciate his essays. This worked well to help me hear many of those that came out when I was barely 11 years of age. Of the more recent ones, only ones from vanity fair were the ones I knew, so it was exciting to get to hear such a large and comprehensive selection.
The only thing I felt was off was mentioned in the review below(i.e. that Hitch wasn't the one to read this, but, as sick as he is, I understand.)
Two things are remarkable about this audio book.
The first is the quality of the content. Hitchens' mind, evidently, possessed a voracious curiosity, an enormous capacity, and the gift of incisive synthesis. Additionally, he had the ability to articulate this combination with precision and delight.
The second is the rare, to me, ability of the narrator to match the clarity of the prose. He makes no attempt to clarify meaning, merely and intelligently allowing it to come through in the phrasing of the writer's sentences and the shapes of his paragraphs. The result is the clear emergence of both sense and the author's voice.
The listener is very fortunate to find both at once.
A fantastic set of essays, brilliantly delivered
I openly wept at the end- to realize the world's loss of this intellect
Hitchens puts a lot of thoughts into a few words; his economy of words make one want to enjoy the thought or, perhaps the way it is expressed by a master of English. But, alas, this is the first book I have encountered on Audible where the narrator spews out the words so fast that it is impossible to keep up with the author's train of thought, let alone appreciate the style of writing. Granted the hard cover book is rather large, but don't skimp on audio space by racing through the reading of the book...
After attempting to listen to this book, I had to go out and buy the hard cover. This is the first book I have had this issue with. I have listened to many of Hitchen's debates on my IPod and have had no issue when the author speaks himself. This is clearly the narrator scurrying hastily through the book. Do we get paid by the quantity of books narrated, so that a short book is paid the same as a lengthy tome like Arguably? Doubtable as this may be, it is the only possible reason I could see for the TV and radio-like
Read Slower. A lot slower.
There are times when I am completely taken aback with the sheer genius of select members of our species. The way Hitchens wrote was so impressive, I often found myself thinking that he has no peer. I didn't agree with everything he said, but I had to concede, what he said could not have been articulated in a more entertaining or convincing manner.
Here is my only problem with the narration: the author didn't have the chance to record his own work. No fault of Mr. Prebble. But Hitchens was fun to listen to as well as read.
More than anything, this book humbled me. I like to think I am smart, and eloquent. But after this, I felt like an illiterate chump.
You likely won't agree with everything the man said, but you owe it to yourself to at least listen and let your beliefs get challenged.
The book itself is great, I've finished part of it on Kindle--I love Hitchen's irreverent wit and sharp mind--but the Audible version is just AWFUL! I have purchased hundreds of books from Audible and never felt the need to review any one of them. I've also been mildly annoyed by the amount of complaining I see on Audible about narrators, because, up until now, though I found some of them better than others, I've never heard one so seriously bad I'd think to mention it. Until now. The book is literally unlistenable. Between the narrator's speaking *very* rapidly and the sound quality being unusually low in every format I am unable to make out the words--at all--even straining to understand. I have tried different settings on my equalizer in an attempt to listen to this book, but I remain unable to make out any of the words. It's a complete waste of a credit, because I won't be able to understand any of this book in audio format. That Audible would release this book with this narrator's rapid-fire speech and the extraordinarily low audio quality is a great disappointment! Buy this book in dead-tree or ebook format. It's a great book. But don't waste a credit, or your heard-earned cash, on the Audible version.
I have now listened to 28 of the 32 hours of this book of essays. It took me a while to get into it (it has been in my library for over a year). At first, it seemed so dense that I would listen to 1/2 or one essay and then take a break for a month or so. Then, something happened and it got much more interesting. I learned about writers in a way I had never thought about them and historical events from the viewpoint of a person who has thought deeply about issues of contemporary history.
Hitchens has a particular viewpoint. He was unabashedly against religion, especially in the ways in which religion has been misused. He has absolutely no patience with the use of religion to torture others. He traveled in Africa and Afghanistan during disruptions and wars. He experienced waterboarding and described the sensation in detail, while admitting that it must have been worse for those who had less trust that they would live through the experience.
One interesting experience is how much attention he pays to women who have written on history or as novelist. His (possibly) favorite novelist was George Eliot.
I heard about his impending death and then his death when I was not familiar with his work. His essay just before his death, in, I believe, the NY Review of Books, was to dense for me to read. Now, I am so sorry he is gone. I would like to argue with him about several of his points, or ask him for even more details. Of course, I wouldn't have a chance with such a sardonic wit.
It's hard to say, because I was hoping for different material than I found, and the error is mine.
If what you want is to read elegant writing about a variety of topics - particularly reviews of other people's work - and you like the writing style of Hitchens, I imagine this would be a fantastic book, and judging from the reviews of others, my suspicions are well-founded.
But I was looking for material similar to "God is not Great" and was disappointed. Again, my error.
The essays are fascinating, well written, well performed. Each is about American historical figure like Mark Twain, John F. Kennedy, Abe Lincoln, etc. Probably of more interest to an American than to a non-American.
Hitchens' choice of words has always been a highlight to his articles. Considering the book is a collection of many of his articles, it goes without saying that the text will be full of wonder and clarity.
During his story of Taiwan, the introduction of the children there will forever stick in my mind. The book paints such an unfiltered, powerful image that, while reading, I had to take a few seconds to compose myself and journey on.
This was an excellent performance. I've not heard previous ones but, when comparing performances to listen to in the future, his Mr Prebble's name will certainly be the one that I choose when searching for books with multiple narrators.
The final chapters of the book bring good humor to the collection. This is a good thing, considering the previous chapters deal with sometimes drastic historical issues. I laughed heartily and, though no tears were actually shed while reading, they did well up and begin to protest their containment.
Considering Hitchens enjoyed using little phrases of multiple languages to drive home a point every now and then in an article, it might help to have an online translator handy so you can type in a phrase and fully understand what the author meant. This is a trademark Hitchens occurrence and takes place within almost every article. So, as Hitch might say, 'Se preparer.'