Calling all Christopher Hitchens fan! This audiobook is essential for you! A conversation between Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie is recorded in front of a live audience, but with the intimacy of a private talk. Subtly funny, political, and eye-opening. Salman Rushdie probes Hitchens on his "eclectic dislikes", his political views, and his adventures as a foreign correspondent. Whether you've read or are about to read Hitchens' final memoir, Hitch 22, this audiobook will broaden and deepen your reading experience, as well as answer some of the questions you yourself might have for Hitchens.
Over the course of his 60 years, Christopher Hitchens has been a citizen of both the United States and the United Kingdom. He has been both a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam and a supporter of the U.S. war against Islamic extremism in Iraq. He has been both a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a legendary bon vivant. He is a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian, by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide. He has now written a searing memoir entitled, Hitch 22 that lays bare these many contradictions and affirms his conviction that all personal is also political. Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and a visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School. He is the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, George Orwell, Mother Teresa, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Henry Kissinger and his #1 New York Times bestseller and National Book Award nominee, God Is Not Great.
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"Nothing more than an advert for Hitchens' book"
Hitchens and Rushdie could have discussed Islam, censorship etc. As it was, it was a poorly cobbled together advert for Hitchens book.
I'm a great fan of these two men but was very disappointed with this product. After a soporific, sycophantic 10-minute introduction we are subjected to a hotch-potch of brief, disjointed comments and anecdotes about all manner of subjects. Rushdie effectively interviews Hitchens - not the way around I would have wanted - and the dialogue is littered with name-dropping, references to in-jokes from the two men's past which I could not participate in, and much patting of each other's backs about past achievements without really explaining what they were. There are continual references to Hitchens’ published memoirs (“available in all fine bookshops”) which reduce this interview to nothing more than a long, unashamed advertisement.
The audience is often silent while Hitchens recounts some bizarre anecdote such as his trip to a brothel; they sometimes emit awkward titters such as when Hitchens and Rushdie play a word game on the word "dick" which they invented in their youth which I'm sure was hilarious when they were in a bar somewhere 30 years ago but which jars very badly in this arena; and they sometimes sound bemused such as when Hitchens levers in a limerick about a bishop "pumping sperm" into a kneeling choirboy, where he somehow manages to convey the repugnancy but without generating any of the humour that dirty jokes can produce if delivered the right way in the right context. At one point even Hitchens himself remarks on how the audience sounds "muted".
There are occasional glimpses of the kind of discourse this could have been when Hitchens takes a few questions from the audience, such as when he and Rushdie refer to the anthropological argument for the existence of God, but these are brief and nothing beyond what you would have discussed as a schoolchild in Religious Studies. The whole painful experience is summarised by Rushdie's final question, when he hijacks a question from the audience and turns it into: Which historical figure would Hitchens most like to have had sex with?
If you want toilet humour there are plenty of good comedians on Audible.com who know how to turn crudity into great laughs, or you could play a Tenacious D album and at least hear some good music at the same time. If you like word games carried along by an undercurrent of innuendo listen to the inimitable "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue". If you want to see Hitchens at his sublime, iconoclastic best then watch him debating on YouTube for free. But please don't waste your money on this Audible product.
"For Hitchens true fans only"
This is a perfect companion to Hitch 22, although I can't imagine why they don't just give it out for free, as there are a lot of more interesting Hitchens debates and conversations downloadable for free on Itunes, and this isn't the best I've heard. Still, it's always interesting to listen to such a great talker, whether he explores political themes or just intellectual games, as he does here with Mr Rushdie. A pleasant listen all in all, but perhaps not 'essential'.
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