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.