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.
©2011 Christopher Hitchens (P)2011 Audible Ltd
Yes, yes, yes. It is a fabulous example of the value of a deep education, an insight into a brilliant mind and an honest walk in the shoes of a less than perfect but incredibly timely, talents, fortunate and authentic individual.
There are numerous memorable moments but I would choose Hitch's narrative of the funeral of Mark Daily as one that has securely implanted itself in my mind.
His vivid description of the approach to Malta with his mother as a child.
Hitch22 - erudite, eloquent and honest - the powerful life of an idealist.
In writing this review I am concerned that my feeble abilities may reflect poorly upon the subject. Hitch 22 is worth 'reading' even if the person or topic does not interest you purely for the quality of the writing. I normally listen to books on 2 or 3 times normal speed, Hitch packs so much content and meaning into each sentence that I had to listen to this, at least the first time, at normal speed and replay sections just to hear it again for deep effect. Hitch narrated with presence and sincerity. By listening to this book as opposed to reading it I feel I gained another dimension of or connection to who he was. This is a unique method of leaving your mark on the world and mark well worth the leaving. Well lived Hitch.
I know there should be apostrophes in the "Hitchens"es in the title. But Audible wouldn't give me space and I couldn't bring myself to call him Hitch. Because I don't know him well enough and very sadly I now never will. So I chose bad punctuation over disrespect.
If you love Hitchen's writing, which I do. And love his speaking, which I do. Then you will love this work. The biography of a clever, witty and educated man spoken by himself is always going to be an interesting read and this is. The only downside is that I had to keep stopping it because it made me sad to realise that the supply of thought from this man has been cut short.
If you don't like Hitchens ideas or the way he expresses them then quite frankly you will hate this book with a passion. Good. Real thought is not meant to be easy and real ideas require work. The problem is that the people who will hate this work the most will do so without ever reading it.
Starting from his childhood and dealing openly with his schoolboy experiences , his family and the beginning of his political thinking, Hitchens reveals himself to be a very human set of contradictions. He speaks warmly of favoured authors and people who he touches along the way. There is enough soul searching to be interesting and enough lack of cod psychology to be refreshing. He tells it the way he sees it and explains why he sees it that way.
There is some slightly boring stuff about the literary circle he moved in and literary people he meets. Its interesting enough in small doses but there are sections where it goes on a bit and has a quality of "You probably needed to be there" about it. But at the end of the day that is the man. He is literary to his boots except when he is political.
And the politics is interesting. Always leftist (whatever that means) he shows that his actual politic compass was always pointed at attacking totalitarianism in any of its many forms and that sometimes meant that the lesser of two evils still looked evil from the outside. The passages dealing with his road to US citizenship are fascinating.
There is relatively little about Hitchens high profile contribution to the rationalist atheist movement. If you want to hear Hitchens on religion then buy a copy of "God is not Great". (No - I mean it - buy a copy - he reads that too and its marvellous).
All in all this is a work that I will listen to again and again. As much because it feels just a tiny bit like it gives me the privilege of spending a little time with a careful thinker who I shall never meet.
The way he takes us through the last 60 odd years cutting away the nonsense, smoke and mirrors and infighting hidden truths, conspiracy and corruption.
Obviously Hitchens himself.
Actually his performance on his God is Great book is a little better, but obviously he was ill when he narrated this memoir, it is still a delight to hear him narrate it himself, he was one of the best public speakers.
A very British American Dissident.
Felix Del Barrio
The Horse's Mouth
An amazing recollection of the boy from Irvine who took Christopher's views to heart.
A great book
"Tour De Force"
I lament the ending of this audio master-piece, made superbly personal by the voice of Hitch himself. What a wonderful man, and what a marvellous contribution to call for sanity in a mad and cruel world. Truly one of my hero's. So much better in audio format as well when read by the author. So very personal for the listener. I wish I had known this human being who's self deprecating honesty is a tonic to me, and a rare trait in one so gifted.
"I enjoyed it, mostly"
If I had stopped half way through I would have rated it higher. I reckon I have quite a high tolerance level for public school boys, but it does start to grate just a bit, especially in the last couple of chapters when he seems to be justifying his swing from the left (lighten up Christopher, it happens to us all). I do admire the man though, because he cares about the truth and does stand up for the truth as he sees it, and there is much of interest here. Hitch reads his own book, which is generally a plus, and here most definitely is.
"I Really Miss Hitch"
This excellent autobiography has now become too complete a work following Hitchens death in November 2011.
Written with wit and I think understated modesty this book shows a reflection of the man I hope existed. Not knowing him one can never be sure.
An excellent read, especially for a biography - a genre which I'm very selective with.
Christopher Hitchens was am interesting person. In this memoir he describes his life including his school days, the suicide of his mother, his political ideas and how he changed some of them over time. The book is very well written and interesting, sometimes funny, sometimes sad. The author's reading of the book is usually very good although I occasionally found it slightly too quiet. Very good.
"How to be a Literatary and Polemic Genius"
Christophers life as recorded in this book answers the question. With great honesty Christopher reviews the parts of his life that formed his opinions and world view. The answer to the question is to read deeply and widely. Returning to the same books at different times of life. TheTo also actually go and visit these places and talk with the participants. To become part of the debate. To get to the know the participants truely one must drink with them; long into the night and still be able to keep your wits about you. Christopher was a master at this. Hearing Christophers own voice reading the book made the listen personal and meaning filled. Worth every penny and every second spent listening and relistening.
Put aside the man's politics. You may not agree with them. It does not matter. He had a staggering mind and wrote beautifully. Let him take you through some parts of what was an incredible life in these memoirs. But be prepared to work...this man was bright!
"Mostly enjoyable, definitely good value"
I will listen to it again. Like previous reviewers I found it difficult to reconcile the two versions of Chris Hitchens, the young idealist, and I'm not quite sure what he became at the end. A second hearing might help. Plus I loved listening to his voice, and I enjoyed the book in general, which was stranger than fiction in some places. He uses language really well, and I was never once bored.
His stay in Cuba, which he reported without much comment or opinion, just described what happened.
He has a very soothing, if quiet, voice. In general I like audio-books where the author is the narrator.
The death of his mother.
I couldn't decide whether I should give this 5 stars or 4, as it did in my opinion, tail off a little towards the end. As a previous reviewer commented, I would have enjoyed it more if I had stopped part way through. However at over 17 hours for one credit (if you are a member), I thought I got my money's worth in this instance and opted for 5 stars.
"Wide ranging, erudite and opinionated"
Anyone looking for a biography / memoir of Christopher Hitchens probably has a decent idea what they're in for, so there's little point in dwelling on his opinions and analyses as such.
However the background describing how he came to be were he was is well told, entertaining and at least appears even-handed.
A fair bit of clever wordplay without being too clever for it's own good and, if you're anything like me, it'll have you entertained scuttling down various rabbit holes to follow up references.
The performance / recording is a bit more problematic.
In general terms, he has a great voice, and who better to understand how it should be stressed and delivered than the author?
However within that delivery there are issues; he has a tendency to start off a sentence in a booming and declarative way, but finish in the equivalent of an off-hand or conspiratorial whisper.
This means that in situations where there was any ambient noise - walking the dog for instance - it was impossible to achieve a comfortable volume and the experience degenerated into an exercise in constant swearing, rewinding, adjustment and replaying.
In the end, I gave up attempting to listen in anything other than ideal conditions, and that improved the experience by leaps and bounds. Maybe best listened to and reflected upon in that way anyway.
"Wonderful book and audio performance"
If you ever enjoyed the writing or TV appearances of Christopher Hitchens then I cannot recommend this memoir enough. It is a wonderful journey through his life, the development of his political thinking, his friendships and his family relationships. For those who know nothing of Hitchens then this book is an enjoyable and accessible way to learn about one of the great political minds of recent times.
The performance by Hitchens of his own writing is exceptional. I'm struggling to think of a narration I have enjoyed more; in itself, the narration is worth the price of the audiobook.
This book should be a cold shower shock to most people who read it. The depiction of a life lived at full speed with a humbling thirst for truth and progressive thought is orated beautifully by the man himself. As this paragraph is meant to be a book review and not an opinion page about the mans politics as some below have cheaply used, I would advise that if you are intrigued by the beginnings and origins of one of the worlds greatest minds and writers, then this is simply unmissable. The combination of integrity and eloquence make this a book I was heartbroken to have reached the end of.
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