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Orwell's Victory Paperback – 5 Jun 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (5 Jun. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141005351
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141005355
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 864,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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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Amazon Review

There can be few literary reputations that have become quite so battered in recent years as that of George Orwell, the subject of Christopher Hitchens' short and spiky Orwell's Victory. Feminists, socialists, conservatives, post-modernists and critics of empire have all lined up to take pot-shots at Orwell's "common-sense" style, his sometimes maverick politics, and above all his patrician world-view. Hitchens, a prolific writer and provocative political journalist himself, best known for his downsizing of the reputation of Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton--successfully salvages Orwell from the backlash of posterity.

In a chatty and occasionally tangential account, he recreates the contexts and situations that influenced Orwell's most well-known work: privileged Eton, imperial Burma, the kitchens of Paris and the terraced streets of Lancashire, war-torn Spain, and London in the blitz. Throughout he judges Orwell in the light of the difficult contemporary questions he addressed--what Orwell called the "power of facing" unpleasant facts--rather than the ideological fashions of future generations. Some of Orwell's critics, notably Raymond Williams and Claude Simon, leave this book with the integrity of their own work in tatters. Hitchens is particularly good on Orwell's journalism, and deft at unpicking the deeper meanings of Animal Farm and 1984 . He doesn't really delve into Orwell's personal life, wherein lies the source of some of the posthumous contempt. But overall two reputations emerge intact from this little book: those of Orwell the voice of courageous sanity, and Hitchens, the arch-controversialist. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Thomas Carlyle wrote of his Cromwell that he had had to drag him out from under a mound of dead dogs and offal before being able to set him up as a figure worthy of biography. This is not a biography, but I sometimes feel as if George Orwell requires extricating from under a pile of saccharine tablets and moist hankies...'

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Henry Ireton VINE VOICE on 28 Aug. 2006
Format: Paperback
I think some of these reviewers condemn Hitchens for being what he is not. This is not a scholarly, learned account of George Orwell's life and works, nor is it uninfluenced by today's preoccupations. Hitchens is primarily an essayist and his work reads best when you realise that that is where his real skill lies. Having said this if you read this book as a series of interesting essays about aspects of Orwell in the light of current events they make more sense. Hitchens doesn't say much that is new, but what he writes is written intelligently, provocatively and engagingly. He has more style than many academics writing about a similar subject. Put simply this book is not to be ennumerated amongst the intellectual herculeian labours like some academic tomes but to be read as an enjoyable intellectual exercise, you won't be stunned but you will enjoy.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr. P. A. Mountford on 13 May 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book, but be warned; it is the same publication as 'Why Orwell Matters" Pub Basic Books. Without checking, I bought both. Never mind...maybe it I was a victim of "double-speak".....
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Hopper TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 23 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
An interesting exploration of Orwell's literary and political persona and how he has been both claimed and vilified by both the political left and political right. His staunch opposition to both Stalin and Hitler were heroic especially in retrospect and earned him a lot of opprobrium both from those intellectuals who should have known better but made excuses for Stalin, and from British and American officialdom during the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union. Worth reading in light of the modern tendency of some contemporaries to brush over the horrors of certain dictatorships in Africa and Asia and come to support, or at least make excuses for them, simply because they are anti-Western, on the "principle" that "they're against America/the capitalist West, so they must be alright".
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 18 Jun. 2002
Format: Paperback
Christopher Hitchen's new book 'Orwell's Victory' offers an interesting introduction to the work, and arguments which surround the work of Eric Blair (better known to the world as George Orwell). He analysis the influence which Orwell has had on politics and literature, and the way in which Orwell has been understood (or in most cases mis-understood) by 50 years of intellectuals both in the UK and accross the Pond.
Hitchens draws his arguments from his own brand of left-wing thought, and uses his arguments to attack both the literati/ intelligensia who have come to dominate British and American fiction, but also those who have tried to appropriate or reject Orwell's arguments for their own ends. This book is very much of a defense of Hitchens view of Orwell and his work, and is a very personal view of where he sees Orwell coming from. This of course makes the book fairly ideosyncratic (something which Hitchens writing often is).
This is probably not the best book to have been written on Orwell, and some of its arguments relate very much to the political and social situation we find ourselves in, in 2002, though this is not necessarily a bad thing. This book can perhaps be best read as an introduction or alongside Bernard Crick's seminal biography of George Orwell/ Eric Blair, which is also published by Penguin books (for just £2 more). Indeed both Crick and Hitchens share some material and arguments, though this perhaps again is the recognition of a good argument than as a problem per se. And whereas Crick sets out to chart Orwell's/ Blair's life, Hitchens is reviewing and defending the work of Orwell the writer and social commentator.
In the end then this a book well worth reading, especially for those, like myself, who enjoy the writing's of both Orwell and Hitchens. It is however a book best read amongst other books by and about Orwell.
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