Over the last thirty years, Christopher Hitchens has established himself as one of the world's most influential public intellectuals. His originality, bravery, range, and wit made him first a leading iconoclast of the political left and then, later in his career, a formidable advocate of secular liberalism. When the Twin Towers were attacked in ...
Over the last thirty years, Christopher Hitchens has established himself as one of the world's most influential public intellectuals. His originality, bravery, range, and wit made him first a leading iconoclast of the political left and then, later in his career, a formidable advocate of secular liberalism. When the Twin Towers were attacked in September 2001, Hitchens was re-energised again, quickly emerging as one of the fiercest and most influential advocates of war on Iraq. In this long-awaited and candid memoir, Hitchens re-traces the footsteps of his life to date, from his childhood in Portsmouth, with his adoring, tragic mother and reserved Naval officer father; to his life in Washington DC, the base from which from he would launch fierce attacks on tyranny of all kinds. Along the way, he recalls the girls, boys and booze; the friendships and the feuds; the grand struggles and lost causes; and, the mistakes and misgivings that have characterised his life. "Hitch-22" is, by turns, moving and funny, charming and infuriating, enraging and inspiring. It is an indispensable companion to the life and thought of our pre-eminent political writer.
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This is a memoir first published in 2010. My copy is the 2011 edition that includes a forward by Hitchens having earlier that same year been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He died in December 2011.
Christopher Hitchens was an author, journalist, essayist, pamphleteer and superb orator. His debating skills, honed at Oxford, were sharp, insightful and could leave his opponent feeling like they had undergone ten rounds with Cassius Clay.
To my utter shame I didn?t start taking an interest in Christopher Hitchens and his writings until around 2005. My introduction to Hitchens was through my love of the works of George Orwell. I stumbled upon Christopher Hitchens biographical essay ?Orwell?s Victory ?, (known as ?Why Orwell Matters? in the USA), in a second hand bookshop. Not only was ?Orwell?s Victory? a superb piece of literature and a cracking read but it had the effect of wanting to know more about Mr. Hitchens.
Hitch 22 details his relationship with his parents, loving, beautiful but distant mother and uncommunicative, stoic but heroic father. Names are dropped within the book like so many autumn leaves; Salman Rushdie, James Fenton, Richard Dawkins, Martin Amis etc etc. But, this is not an attempt by Christopher Hitchens to show off or communicate to the outside world about his highly influential friends. Each name is ?dropped? to illustrate a point or to help frame a chapter and give it context.
There have been many superlatives used to describe Christopher Hitchens, erudite, witty, passionate and rhetorically astute. It is not only hard to think of new ones but it is difficult to disagree with any of them.
Hitch 22 is 422 pages of the English language in perfect harmony. His writing style is the language equivalent of the Taj Mahal or the Potala Palace in Tibet: beautifully constructed with no superfluous building materials.
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