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.
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.
I loved it that Hitch narrated his own story. On the other hand his narration leaves something to be desired in that sometimes the ends of his sentences were quite inaudible. A professional narrator wouldn't have made that mistake.
His conversational writing style and euphonious voice make this an ideal book on tape. His era is an historically rich one and recent enough that it's description is yet to be calcified. Hitchens, makes no claim to impartiality, obviously, but his lens is certainly one worth looking through when observing the trail of blood and confusion that the present leaves behind itself.
I truly enjoyed hearing about the Hitch, a nickname I discovered was once his father's nickname as well. If you want a look at the secret life someone suggests, aludes to, and "perhaps" later even hides (denies?) to have existed in his adult years, you may find the fabric of this tapestry intricately delights you. Or you may wish he'd be more direct- but you'll find out why that was not so.
There is much more of the book dedicated to his political activism and political thinking across much of his life time. Including appreciations of, contentions with, and defining ironies of the Jews.
Add to this some word games and you get a thorough appreciation of his intelligence across many expressions. If you just want the word games get one of the Live at the 92nd Street Y interviews with him and Salman Rush die -most of them are there.
The book starts off really movingly as Hitch describes his family. The further he moves into his adult career the more it starts to alternately like a vehicle for name dropping and an extended self-justification for his political change of heart.
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