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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.
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"!
44 of 44 people found this review helpful
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.
40 of 42 people found this review helpful
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.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
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.
15 of 16 people found this review helpful
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.
15 of 17 people found this review helpful
I love it when an autobiographer performs his own audio book. Hitchens did so in his easy conversational style that often cloaked the sting of his opinions. I'm remiss in waiting until three years after his death to listen to Hitch-22.
I'm a long time admirer of Hitchens despite disagreeing with him on many topics. I admire his intellect, his clarity of presenting his case in speech and writing, his decency as a person,and possibly maybe most of all for his audacity in dealing with controversial topics.
For those of us who have been observers of his work for 25 or 30 years, there is little new in Memoirs other than his early life up until his late teens including his relationship with his mother and father. Hitchens was a profoundly moral man who acted on his beliefs. Those political beliefs were far left of center for all of his life, but not always apparently internally consistent. The book was extraordinarily well written and performed.
For those who do not know about Christopher Hitchens, this book is not the place to start. At least read his Wikipedia bio and watch a few of the many Youtuble videos that are readily available first.
I miss the contributions of Christopher Hitchens to the political dialog in the US and Europe. There is simply no journalist who can replace him. His relatively short 62 years were a well and fully lived life. I absolutely loved Memoirs.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
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.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful
“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.
15 of 19 people found this review helpful
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.
17 of 23 people found this review helpful
I am a huge Christopher Hitchens fan. I was so happy to find this book on Audible, and that is was narrated by himself. I lasted half an hour. I may have actually heard 50% of his words, and continuously had to guess at what he might be saying from the context I did understand. So so frustrating since I was truly interested, that he slurred words and phrases as though he were drunk, dropped his voice halfway through each sentence, changing the pitch and timbre of his voice throughout until it was plain irritating. Increasing the volume substantially did not help. I finally returned the book to Audible. It was probably a great book, but I will never know.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful