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 with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature. He is a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian, by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide.
In other words, Christopher Hitchens contains multitudes. He sees all sides of an argument. And he believes the personal is political.
This is the story of his life, lived large.
©2010 Christopher Hitchens (P)2010 Hachette
This should be required reading for the new organic farm raised supposed left as a text book of what the movement used to be about - joining, literally moving somewhere and participating in, the struggles of working people for emancipation. Hitchens has waded pen first into every one of these struggles of the 20th century that he could, and gives first hand accounts of several. A real warrior from before the left decided it would much rather feel good than do good. If he had been alive during the Spanish civil war, I feel sure his account of it would be remembered and mentioned alongside Homage to Catalonia.
Hitchens account of his mum is a moving and beautiful tribute but I enjoyed his account of his father (the Commander) even more. Here is a glimpse of a class of people completely disappeared from the earth - those decent working class men employed in the defense of the old Empire and later in the defense of civilization itself, their legendary stoicism, bravery and honor, their sacrifices that helped bring the world back from the brink of apocalypse, and their ultimate betrayal and ruin.
Possessed of a smooth, deep and rich voice, the legendary Hitchens baritone Christopher shares with his bother Peter is musical in an old English elocution way that is rare today. Watch out for the lilt of his delivery as there are pronounced volume swells and trail-offs. Some of this is playing to the crowd - his accent, for example, is pronouncedly British upper class, which he was careful not to use when addressing a British audience, preferring a more naturally clipped delivery without the upward trailing vowels, but of course Americans love this sort of thing, so forgive him the snooty delivery. It is a bit odd though to hear deliciously nasty things about Prince Charles coming from someone trying to sound rather more like him than not.
Lest you find cause for jest in a paunchy bourgeois bohemian with a pronouncedly aristocratic British accent, and slightly the worse off for drink, claiming Marxist credentials, its worth noting that Hitchens personally knew Michael Chertoff, then head of the Department of Homeland Security when he applied for American citizenship. Rather than speeding his own induction, he advocated for those of his colleagues and friends suffering various indignities at the hands of this odious bureaucracy. This and other moving examples illustrate the Hitch's unerring instinct for the defense of the powerless.
How lucky for us that he managed to get this done before his untimely passing. Leftist memoirs tend to be sordid affairs. This is anything but. Well done. The Hitch is greatly missed.
Having read the book and hearing about the death of this great intellectual giant I had to hear the voice of the man. Great read and listening to one of the greatest modern intellectuals of our time is a great joy.
Word loving college student with a 2+ hour daily commute, who sadly had to learn to accept that reading and driving are plainly incompatible
I had, going into this audiobook, only a rudimentary understanding Hitchens; I knew he hated Mother Teressa and that seemed about right to me so I bought this audiobook in order to get a glimpse at the man beyond the debater and anti-theist. I got what I came for, but it was far from perfect.
Sometimes Hitchens mumbles. He cuts off portions of words and almost seems to be content muttering to himself, one can tell well enough what he is saying, but it was a little jarring sometimes. However, that in and of itself is hardly worth criticizing on its own. The truly damning thing comes in the writing itself; Hitchens rambles. He is more than welcome to I suppose, but on the slightest of a whim he will go from one memory to another to another then back to the first, it's distracting and as an essayist you'd think he would know how to focus a little better.
The last quarter of it is by far my favorite, but this comes strictly from the fact that I finally understand the players involved. The first three quarters of the book deal with 1960-90s and I was less than a child then and have little experience of what was going on in the period (nor am I well read enough to understand fake it well enough to completely understand, this goes doubly to the plethora of literary references and name dropping that occurs throughout the text).
Again, so much of the book feels unfocused and rambling. I am sure that a great many books could be written with what Hitchens has seen and done in life, but I can't help but think that had he remained a bit more clear on what he wanted to accomplish in this memoir he might have had a better result.
Note:This review is written by Jackie, Paul"s wife.
What a pleasurable experience it is to listen to Christopher as narrator. I feel as though he is talking directly to me - the mark of a great communicator. I agree with Christopher when he advises the reader to sit down quietly and listen very attentively as the author tells his story.
I enchance the great joy of listening to Christopher by wearing my Bose QuietComfort 15 earphones which help deepen my concentration carrying me through difficult parts.
I have the good fortune of being a member of Audible.com and am considered a serious listener these past 10 years. "Hitch 22; a Memoir " is simply nonpareil. I love this book so well that I want to buy a copy and read along as I listen to Hitch for the 4th time, lest I missed something.
Christopher captured my attention right from the start and carried me through the vicissitudes of his larger than life story with deep emotion and debth of knowledge. He is very expressive and genuine. He never flinches even while recounting intimate details. This is both an admirable and endearing performance.
In the chapter about his beloved mother, Yvonne, Christopher suffers deep and profound anguish when he realizes that he missed Yvonne's telephone calls which he humbly states "might have made a difference. "
Christopher has inspired me to write my Memoir.
My children won"t sit still long enough to hear my story either.
My love and appreciation to Christopher for his courage to see this multi-media project through.
I regard this work as his chef-d'oeuvre.
May I look forward to yet another delectable audible feast?
I'm a fan of Christopher Hitchens. Someone that well read with an intellect so vast commands my respect and admiration. So it is not with a little sadness to report how uninspiring and tedious I found most of his memoir. Perhaps it's the lackluster way he narrates his own life story; almost like reading an owner's manual or a recipe. His style, so effective in debate and interview, doesn't work here. The first third of the book is quite interesting and revealing but the story soon bogs down with endless anecdotes and experiences which lose any drama and import they might have had with his detached reading. And that's a shame considering the people he's known and the life he's had.
On Christopher Hitchens' memoir, *Hitch 22*. I appreciate that many of his life's epiphanies come from books. Mine did and do too. And I also appreciate the honest chronicle of his experiences in a English boarding school. Plus, his European perspective of American politics during the 60's and 70's is enlightening. However, his constant reminders of his superior intelligence are distracting and off-putting, and his choice to read his own memoir is ill-advised. His lack of inflection and sometimes jerky pacing force the reader to work at discerning sentence endings and points of emphasis.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
“I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir
“A poet's work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”
― Salman Rushdie
There are just a handful of people I've never met, but who I miss every day since their death*:
1. David Foster Wallace. I still remember the day he died and find myself turning to his fiction and nonfiction frequently to sooth the sharp-edges of this mortal coil. Just like Hitchens, I've avoided finishing ALL of his books simply because the IDEA that there are words of his yet unread by me, keeps my heart pumping blood to my cold feet.
2. Hunter S. Thompson. I once door-knocked into his home in Aspen. One of my biggest regrets is I didn't come back every day and knock again, and again, and again, until he WAS home. After Thompson died I wanted to summon him back with my continual knocking at his door.
2. Christopher Hitchens. While I seldom agreed completely with what he wrote, I admired almost every word he put out into the dark, unorganized Universe. He was an example of a fighter, a thinker, and public intellectual that would take risks. He wrote because he had both passion and an opinion. I admired his ability to quarrel with friends, change his mind, upset sacred apple carts, wake sleeping giants, and push an argument up a hill until the hill, the sky, his rock-hard argument, and reader were all exhausted.
I think intuitively he grasped an order (or position?) I still cling to: life contains a beauty which exists within its many contradictions and absurdities. I loved his hatred of meanness and ideology. I loved his passion for language and literature and poetry. I loved his attempts to be fluent rather than glib, quick rather than fast, and pointed rather than sharp.
I loved how every time I read (or re-read) one of his books, I walked away with a list of books to buy/read/share. I adore how adorned with tabs and flags his books become after I've read them. I loved his gratitude for good friends, good books, good food (and wine and spirits), and a good fight. I loved his love for Martin Amis. It is unabashed, and while not unique among men, his ability to occupy a zone of love that feels closer to Abraham Lincoln's or Augustus Caesar's day. This points at just how unique and iconoclastic he was. I consider him a friend and a teacher and an many ways an ideal. He certainly wasn't perfect, but God he WAS interesting.
* I also miss Andrew Sullivan, who hasn't died just semi-retired, but it still feels a bit like he has.
I am a fan, albeit a disagreeer, of Hitch. I thought this book was great in terms of production and the yielding of his psyche. That said having also just finished The Faith of Christopher Hitchens I have many questions for both authors. Unfortunately Hitch is unable to respond to my inquiries.
Hitch's indelible wit and intellect come to life in this book. From moving tales of his mother's suicide to amusing anecdotes about friends, Hitch provides an intimate look into one of the world's most interesting lives and minds.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.