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
Hitch-22 is brilliant. I've read many articles by Christopher Hitchens over the years, and have always admired his take no prisoners journalism. This book is exactly that, and this time he's the target. The book is fabulous when he describes someone he likes, and delicious when he detests the subject.
I was especially intrigued with the Argentina portion. It was difficult to hear, but it makes a compelling case for Democracy, however imperfect. Mr. Hitchens' argument for the Iraq war is a terrific essay. I was, and still am, opposed to the war, but I found his insights helpful in understanding the other point of view.
This book is a love letter to America. Mr Hitchens sees the country with 20/20 vision and adores it, flaws and all. Hitch-22 should be required reading for all Americans.
I look forward to listening to this book a second time, which is something I rarely do. I love that he read it himself. It is tragic to think that we may lose this amazing writer. I want to scream "Please, don't leave me alone with the idiots"!
Hitchens may not be to your taste. If you're like me, he's a bit intimidating. His intellect can scorch his humanity now and then. But I think he is among our greatest public intellectuals. I have never heard nor read him without thinking that I need to work and think and write and speak with more dedication. When I don't agree with him, I still want to be a better person.
"Hitch-22" is scintillating, maddening, hilarious, touching, and entertaining. The sixties and Oxford come alive, as do his family and friends. I have given it three listens so far, but I'll keep coming back to it.
As the title indicates, the content of the book does not disappoint. Hitchens is brilliant as ever. My only complaint is that he mumbles and is often hard to understand. The audio tracks for "God is Not Great" were very good. However, in this audiobook Hitchens is often a bit difficult to hear. I would likely recommend this book in print.
The only thing I knew about Hitch, as close friends tend to call him, is that he is a master of the written English word. I came to admire his essays on the American political scene during the 2008 elections and found that his scalpel-sharp wit and keen twist of phrase made otherwise mundane subjects exciting. I don't even agree with many of his political or anti-religious views, but his self-effacing intellectual analysis is worth a listen. In this Audible book, Hitchens narrates his own tome, and it adds to the experience. He delivers his written words with deadpan sincerity, as if he were recounting his life over a scotch and some cigs. It is a credit to his writing that he could read his own text and still have it sound almost like a conversation. For American readers, his memoir is also an interesting peek inside the European perspective on the Boomer generation, the Cold War, and the 1960s.
So many books, so little time...
If a book could be like a box of chocolates, then this could very well be a delightful box of Thorton’s. Knowing his serious body of work it is interesting to have insight into how he was raised from a semi working class background to Oxford.
I loved that he read his book. His reading is the perfect vehicle for his memoir. His voice guides the listener through the twists and turns of his life. His style of reading is exactly as I have seen in his numerous interviews and speeches.
The story of his mother and how she influenced his life was so telling, and as they say, behind every great man is a great woman, and that would be Yvonne.
Worth the wait and worth every moment of time spent listening to this book. I would give this more than 5 stars, and would say if you love Christopher Hitchens, you will love this book.
Tongue In Cheek: God is an Englishman.
1st I am a big fan of Mr. Hitchens I have read most of his books and many of his articles and essays.
However I remember in my 1st encounter with him many years ago, I thought, here is a man with a rapier wit, I surmised a thirst for scotch and a heavy smoker....and also imagines perhaps low self esteem and even a self destructive bent!. In his memoir he validates all of these issues. And with the knowledge of him mothers suicide, I can only (or perhaps not) imagine his demons.
So I am very biased towards applauding him. However it must be noted, many times it is better to see you mentors from afar as getting to close make all of the "blemishes” highlighted.
Much like sausage and laws, many times so it the man, you are better off experience the result and not hot it has been made. But based on all of this, he has a life well lived, he has added much to the world and to society at large. I have always thought that we would soon hear of a heart attack, cancer or perhaps even suicide or death as a result of his travels and or lifestyle.
I was deeply saddened to hear of his cancer and treatment, as I fear we will lose a bright light of reason and clarity in a world full of so much noise.
This is not so much a memoir as it is a chronology of his life and then branches off to the numerous people he has known and the some of the influential thought and reflections of the time. While we learn much of his early life and family and some diversions into bi-sexuality, we learn nothing about his marriages and relationships with his children, nor do we learn of any epiphanies along the way or his general learning experiences. It is much more like a 2 way mirror into the observations he has had at the time. While it is always a delight to hear him read and to speak his mind, I was hoping for some greater insight and revelations of his life, passions love and yes even demons.
Regardless of this, Mr. Hitchens is always worth listening to. I wish him a speedy recovery.
I enjoyed hearing Hitchens read his own memoir. I have difficulty hearing, and despite his supposed mumbling, I found it quite easy to understand. This definitely provides insight into what makes Hitchens, well Hitchens - and I applaud him.
No. I wanted to love this book. I always enjoyed the interviews I had seen and heard. I enjoyed his quick wit, breadth of knowledge and his sarcasm during those interviews. While listening to this book - I was just ready for it to be over. He told his life story by describing major relationships in his life - many of them were not so interesting.
Smug, Self-aggrandizing, Cold
I would have liked to know more about his relationships with his wife and children.
It was impressive to hear about all his travels and the opportunities that he had as a student and young adult - his role as a young and active socialist played a major part in that, but I was impressed by his industriousness and drive.
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.
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.
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