Christopher Hitchens' erudition and passion are a formidable combination. Such a richly informed and radical thinker, he makes compelling, consistently impressive,
He delivers inspirational advocacy of a variety of liberal causes. Firstly, and perhaps most famously, he eloquently defends `liberal civilisation' against 21st century fascism, robustly and at some length supporting the Iraq war.
He is riveting, too, in an account of the horrors of witnessing (in the US) the capital punishment of a known PTSD sufferer.
His well-known `revisionist' study of Churchill is included. Praising him for his emphatic (though late) identification of the profoundness of the Nazi evil, Hitchens also wants the record straightened to reveal the slimness of the difference between Churchill and Chamberlain: the former initially expressed some pro-Nazi sympathies, while the latter did deliver some significant support for war. He wants Churchill criticised, too, for his failure to deal effectively with Japan, for arguing too much with Roosevelt, and too little with Stalin. Finally he wants Churchill's ruthlessness acknowledged ( for example in his ordering of the destruction of the French fleet): he was not the avuncular figure of his PR.
He endeavours to remodel the myths surrounding other fabled figures. The physical, psychological, moral and political failings of JFK are listed. Hitchens even targets Mother Teresa of Calcutta for her preference for propagating her rather extreme religious dogma to the poor and sick to making any constructive difference to their plight.
There's some lighter stuff here, too. We're treated to a couple of American journeys: a fascinating one down the memory-laden Sunset Strip, and a rather kicks-light one down a now worn-out Route 66.
Add to this some stimulating literary reviews (Ulysses, Augie March, Swann's Way, Lucky Jim) and the overall result is an absolute intellectual feast.