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Hitchens vs Blair [Paperback]

Christopher Hitchens
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

4 Aug 2011

On November 26, 2010, intellectual juggernaut and staunch atheist Christopher Hitchens went head-to-head with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, one of the Western worlds most openly devout political leaders, on the highly charged topic of religion. Few world leaders have had a greater hand in shaping current events than Blair; few writers have been more outspoken and polarizing than Hitchens.

Hitchens and Blair squared off on the contentious questions that continue to dog the topic of religion in our globalized world: How does faith influence our actions? What is the role of people of faith in the public sphere? Is religious doctrine rigid, or should we allow for flexibility in our interpretations?

For the first time ever, this exclusive debate, which played out to a sold-out audience, is now available in print, along with candid interviews with Hitchens and Blair. Sharp, provocative, and thoroughly engrossing, Hitchens vs. Blair is an electrifying intellectual sparring match on the oldest question: Is religion a force for good in the world?

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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: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 184,159 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.

Product Description


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

Book Description

Is religion a force for good in the World?

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Two 'Socialist' Titans battle it out 5 Aug 2011
By Magic Lemur VINE VOICE
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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By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
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
4.0 out of 5 stars No Contest 15 Jan 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Hitchens distroys Blair. But is too much the gentleman to put the boot in. I enjoyed the book, but wished Hitchens had shown no mercy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Listen 26 Dec 2013
Blair could not match Hitchens as expected, having to resort to stupid religious logic. Religion + power is dangerous.
Hitchens has courage Blair doesn't.
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4.0 out of 5 stars who won? 15 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Well, Hitchens, obviously, even as he reached the end of his fight with cancer, his breadth and depth of knowledge on all fronts melts Blair's drifting responses into shallow mush.
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