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The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Hitchens
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)

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Book Description

'Why, when the subject of royalty or monarchy is mentioned, do the British bid adieu to every vestige of proportion, modesty, humour and restraint? '

This is not a call for the monarchy’s abolition by fiat; illusions cannot be abolished. This is an invitation to think.

In this scathing essay, Christopher Hitchens looks at the relationship of the press and the public to the royal family, unpacking the tautology and contradictory arguments that prop it up. In his inimitable style, Hitchens argues that our desire not to profane or disturb the monarchy is a failure of reason and a confusion of reality. Fealty to the magic of monarchy stops us looking objectively at our own history and hinders open-minded criticism of our present. It is time we outgrew it.

With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee upon us, during a time of recession, high unemployment and national debt, Hitchens’ 10,000-word critique is even more relevant today than when it was first published in 1990.

Part of the Brain Shots series, the pre-eminent source for high quality, short-form digital non-fiction.

'Christopher is one of the most terrifying rhetoricians that the world has yet seen.' Martin Amis

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Product Description

About the Author

CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS was born April 13, 1949, in England and graduated from Balliol College at Oxford University. The father of three children, he was the author of more than twenty books and pamphlets, including collections of essays, criticism, and reportage. His book, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award in the United States and was an international bestseller. His bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, was a finalist for the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for autobiography. His 2011 bestselling omnibus of selected essays, Arguably, was named by the New York Times as one of the ten best books of the year. A visiting professor of liberal studies at the New School in New York City, he was also the I.F. Stone professor at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley. He was a columnist, literary critic, and contributing editor at Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Slate, Times Literary Supplement, The Nation, New Statesman, World Affairs, Free Inquiry, among other publications. He died in Houston, Texas, on December 15, 2011. His posthumous memoir, Mortality, will be published in the fall of 2012.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 797 KB
  • Print Length: 64 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Digital (29 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0082BA7H0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #23,053 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitchens at his polemic best. 13 Feb. 2013
By Daviey
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Here, Mr Hitchens gives a concise and readable account of the monarchy, and although he inevitably reaches conclusions of his own, he also reiterates the importance, and indeed necessity, of thinking for oneself. When tackling a subject as problematic as it is subjective, Hitchens manages to mix the personal with the objective to give a biting, scathing and ultimately provoking argument against the monarchy in Britain. Yet another reason, if one were needed, why Christopher will be missed for many generations to come.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Growing up 15 July 2012
By Sam Quixote TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Christopher Hitchens invites you to think about the Monarchy in Britain, or the United Kingdom - emphasis on the Kingdom - and ask yourself: do we really need it? Shouldn't we, as modern peoples, abolish it? Why do Britons define themselves with the Monarchy and why does it play such a prominent role, especially today? This is Hitchens' persuasive and interesting essay on why he believes the Monarchy should be abolished and I for one enjoyed it.

Yes, I'm a Republican (though not as Americans define the term) and have long wondered at friends and family who feel so strongly about the Queen and her family. Hitchens' essay reinforces my views but goes far deeper into exploring them than I ever have. He talks about how we rely upon invented tradition and how history is sanitised to favour the Monarchy - that the unsavoury parts are "edited" out when convenience calls (you know, the madness, the murders, the endless wars, slavery, etc.). He claims the Monarchy is a "state-sponsored superstition" that everyone in government must take part in if they are to have a career in politics. I think the BBC is party to this as well, broadcasting pro-Monarchy programmes so that vast numbers of the British population are transformed into supporters of the Queen.

I found it a brilliant read and a thoughtful, well written, and eloquent essay on our "national fetish" (excellent observation). As always Hitchens has produced a work that deserves as wide an audience as possible to provoke much needed discourse in our public sphere. The very fact that this is still a national conversation that needs to be had in the 21st century is astonishing. I'll leave this review with the ending sentences of his essay:

"A people that began to think as citizens rather than subjects might transcend underdevelopment on their own... Only servility requires the realm (suggestive word) of illusion. Illusions, of course, cannot be abolished. But they can and must be outgrown."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best 19 Jan. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Hitchens and will greedily gobble up any of his writings. This short essay does not disappoint and I suggest all who live in the U(K?) read it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think 21 Mar. 2013
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I've liked hitch in other books and in this one he argues against all the "reasons" for the monarchy that you've heard and accepted unquestioningly. Challenging as ever, Hitch can expand your mind!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another superb critique 17 Aug. 2012
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Christopher Hitchens had such a talent for addressing the real issues. This is a superb and clear look at the nonsensical way Britain is 'ruled'. Also a brilliant example of how to argue a point. I would recommend any of the late Mr Hitchens books and essays - they should be studied in schools, this one and 'God is Not Great' in particular.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good old Hitch 22 July 2012
By R.E. Viewer TOP 500 REVIEWER
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If you have read any other essays or books from Christopher Hitchens then this sharp, humorous look at the Monarchy and the relationship the British public seem to have with it will come as no surprise.

Debunking the old, tired arguments in favour of the Monarchy is of course an easy task for many even without the insight of Hitchens, but the way he does it in so short an essay is more pleasing.

For less than two quid and in less than a minute you can be reading something that will make you smile and remind you that you are not alone in your revulsion of the whole concept of Monarchy in the modern world.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A review 13 Mar. 2011
By Andreas
Of Christopher Hitchens many published works, articles and essays, "The monarchy : A national Fetish for time had escaped my notice. Even when i became aware he had written a paphlet dedicated purely to critisizing the British monarchy(as much many of his writings indirectly do this if salient to the argument). Though published circa 1990 the arguments against monarchy and refutations of arguments for monarchy made are applicable today. The most refreshing thing i personally found was his approach of presenting the main arguments (some of which contradict each other) for monarchy and sequentially working through them. This ensured that the pampflet stayed to the point and did not degenerate into a 40 odd page diatrabe. Overall, this was a brief but well argued and concise argument against the institution of the British monarchy. If readers would like to read more on his take on monarchy i would recommend Blood, Class and Empire as the topic of the monarchy appears intermitendly and a collection of articles located about half way throught "For the sake of argument" (
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4.0 out of 5 stars Smart book about something very, very silly 4 May 2014
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THE late, great Hitchens doesn't go off on a great polemic. He just shows us some examples to remind us who these anachronisms are, and ask why on Earth do so many people - not least the media - still keep their mouths shut and grin obsequiously, creepily, sycophantically, and bring us the very latest non-news about them. They get an awful lot of money for not doing very much. I would have liked more detail and he should've properly let rip, but still a great, sardonic read. I'd be surprised, though - baffled - if many CH readers also adore this lot.
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