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.
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
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