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Hitchens vs Blair Paperback – 4 Aug 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Black Swan (4 Aug. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0552777900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0552777902
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 0.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 210,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was the author of Letters to a Young Contrarian, and the bestseller No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family. A regular contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic Monthly and Slate, Hitchens also wrote for The Weekly Standard, The National Review, and The Independent, and appeared on The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Chris Matthew's Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and C-Span's Washington Journal. He was named one of the world's "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Britain's Prospect.

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Review

"An intellectual faceoff... full of sharp humour and a little pathos" (Guardian)

Book Description

Is religion a force for good in the World?

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3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Magic Lemur VINE VOICE on 5 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
Although I'm not a socialist myself, I do find that the best type of old politician you can meet is an old socialist. Somehow age seems to mellow any militancy of their youth (especially in the case of Hitchens) and what remains has usually aged like fine wine.

And I found one of the enduring memories I had after I read this book is of the Comradely warmth expressed by Christopher Hitchens towards Blair towards the end of the debate (pages 49-52) and the reciprocation of this. How refreshing this is when compared to Hitchens' bitter debate with Galloway or Blair's fractious relations with Gordon Brown!

This aside I found this a fascinating debate and can honestly say that I rarely enjoyed a polemical text more. Certainly as a debate it outclasses anything Hansard or C-SPAN has to offer shows two highly skilled orators skillfully marshall their arguments.

Of course there is always going to be a winner and, although I shan't plot-spoil, Hitchens is the better man in this field but only just. Tony Blair may not be as used to debating religion, but he still makes good use of language in conveying his argument (e.g. in saying "my point is very simple...").
Rather surprisingly Blair does also have some convincing arguments in favour of religion being a force for good. For instance he compares it to politics and journalism and how there is always bad eggs in all fields and even Nicky Gumbel's work Searching Issues (Alpha) is not quite as crisp as Blair's arguments.

Sadly the old Hitler/ Stalin/ Mao arguments do rear their ugly heads, but only briefly and there is no long boring diversions into other fields.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By K. J. Noyes TOP 100 REVIEWER on 28 July 2014
Format: Paperback
I couldn't help bringing this home after a customer returned it at the library.

A short read, it's the transcript of a debate between former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and writer/journalist Christopher Hitchens, who at the time had already been diagnosed with cancer.

Both are skilled speakers in their own rights, though Hitchens easily outclasses Blair on every point without (unfortunately in my opinion) going for the jugular as he does in many interviews. He made me smile several times, I also found myself in awe at the beautiful phrasing he came out with, and the construction of some of his arguments. And yet I've seen him better.

Blair is certainly adequate but has no argument that convinces, repeating to the end that though yes, religion has done harm, so have other organisations, but yes it has also done some good. His examples of Rwanda and Northern Ireland also backfired on him.

I would have liked commentary on the debate at the end, for context and further thought. And there are two further interviews with the participants, each talking to an interviewer about religion more generally.

The end of the transcript made me smile - seeing the result with no comment as to the audience poll of how many were persuaded by each debater. No further comment needed.

Every time I'm reminded of Hitchens I'm saddened that such an eloquent man shortened his own life and deprived the world of such sense. His arguments here on the empowerment of women being the best chance we have for change makes perfect sense. His phrase on the essence of religion will also stick with me: "created sick and then ordered to be well."

A very useful little volume.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Morgan on 2 April 2015
Format: Paperback
Almost anything Hitchens writes is worth reading, although this is the transcription of a debate the two had therefore not truly a Hitchens BOOK at a time when Hitchens was already mortally ill. Not that it affected his oratory, which has been as impressive as his essays; his forte is the short form. It is a lively debate even if Blair is hardly Hitchens' equal as a speaker. There are some good points made about politics and power, but post Iraq as 'Envoy' for The Quartet to the Middle East and with his friend Michael Levy in ambassadorial role, undoubtedly Blair is a compromised figure and one does not have to think him a liar to find him an uncomfortable speaker for Faith. He makes few surprising or original points about his belief, nor did I really expect him to. Hitchens is as adept in debate as in the essay; the form suits his quick wit, elegance of phrase and his brilliant rhetoric. Having said this I find him both excellent and unsatisfactory here, as his fluency strays near to the facile occasionally. I think he was insufficiently able - I am one of the few to use this word properly I'll have you know - to empathize with religion to make him a great writer on the subject and, while brilliantly effective his religious debates not his finest work. Still him on 4 cylinders is better than almost anyone else on 6! Not your essential Hitch purchase, make sure you get them first: "For The Sake of Argument' and 'Prepared for the Worst' are the finest collections of essays by anyone in our time; he is a quite brilliant successor to the Orwell he so cherishes, rightly..
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An interesting debate for and against religion, but I don't remember it being as powerful as it could have been.

Also in a sense, it doesn't really solve any problems as no-one is ever convinced to change their mind in this sort of debate, they just support one side or another and stick with it.
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