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154 of 161 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing read from a man you don't have to agree with.
I chose this book as my holiday read. And what a good choice it was too. Hitchens is a man who usually polarizes people into one of two camps - you either love him or hate him. I try not to engage in such ideological flag waving, suffice to say, I would consider myself to be one of those who he seems to have left on 'the left' ....so to speak. His memoir takes us through...
Published on 11 Aug 2010 by RepublicanStones

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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A scattershot volume that lacks coherence
The Hitch is a public figure now, so this book will sell whatever I say. But don't expect too much. It's a collection of essays, some quite interesting, some less so, that tend toward autobiography. If, like me, you know some of the protagonists and were there at some of the events, the accounts Hitchens offers can be quite fascinating. But the chapters record a political...
Published on 6 Aug 2010 by Andrew Ross


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incandescent, 19 May 2012
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
This rates as one of the best of Hitchens' brilliant collection of writing.

Not only does he write like an angel, but his insight, knowledge and especially his devastating attacks on political correctness are extraordinary testimony to his journalistic genius.

Whether or not you agree with his arguments (I, generally, do) you will be spellbound by his passion and his astonishing skill in marshalling an argument.

I cannot recommend this book too highly.

Hitch will be greatly missed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visionary, 28 Mar 2012
Hitchens attacks Henry Kissinger as a war criminal, Bill Clinton as a pathological liar and a CIA snitch while he was at Oxford where Hitch matriculated, and wrote a book entitled "The Missionary Position" criticizing Mother Teresa.
The man is candid to a fault as he speaks of his boozing, smoking, and bisexuality. Who else would reveal that Gore Vidal is a practitioner of buggery. And if like myself you are unfamiliar with the word buggery, it's an old English word for sodomy. My lexicon improved as I was constantly looking up the meaning of many words I was unfamiliar with. He describes his early childhood in England, and his relationship with his mother, who hid her Jewish heritage from him, and who sadly committed suicide with her bipolar lover. Hitch came to this country in his early years writing for various publications and quickly developed an affinity for the USA. He became a citizen in 2007. Michael Chertoff administered the oath at the Jefferson Memorial.
Another of our visionarys who will be missed .......
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating memoir, 17 Jan 2012
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I've long been a follower of Hitchens' writings through his VF and other columns, and admire the way he made the art of writing appear to be so effortless. However I'd not read any of his previous books, nor was I aware of just how amazing a life story he had. Hitchens will be sorely missed by an incredibly wide and varied social network and readership. I'm just glad he took the chance to write this memoir before his too-early passing. Highly recommended.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a long journey towards the light, 12 Oct 2011
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
This series of studies meets the requirements of a credible memoir and is far more than simply an entertaining review of his life and experiences. There's more to it than that. It's more a journey of the soul. Maybe he doesn't realise it but his body of work to date as presented in this book says a great deal more about the truth of the man than any of his penetrating insights and provocations accompanying the issues he's attended to over the years.

The first half of his account demonstrates a troubled passage from adolescent anger and frustration driving his need to take on global causes and perceived perpetrators of wrongdoing under the badge of international socialism. This requires a deal of patience from the reader. He seems to want to get it all out at a frenetic pace so it takes a lot of concentration to keep up with his rather disordered deviations by way of, thoughts and memories scattered across the page, subjects started that are dropped or merged into tangential references, nuances, quotations,etc. Quite typical of an academic in full flow,one thought fusing into another, perhaps saying too much in no particular order and giving away sentiments that question his attitude as arrogant, egotistical, immature, and very much up his own rear end. His choice of friends and their puerile word games do him no favours.

However, I found the second half of Hitch a fantastic read especially his take on America, Iraq, Israel, Palestine, and his moving account of the Jewish("Finkler") question. Once he'd discovered his true identity and genetic origins a light seems to flicker through that energises his perspective. This jolt seems to transform his narrow political sparring into a higher level of discernment. Issues are scanned with a greater intensity and sensory absorption. The social, moral, psychological and religous motivations of his subjects give greater weight to his judgements.

I see no point in trying to label him as a left or right political polemicist as I feel this book is a layered journey that more than proves his credentials to being intuitively on the correct side of most issues. Above all he is a torch bearer for truth and humanity. The later chapters reveal an ability to communicate more depth and a beautifully written narrative that has emmotional contact with this reader and I'm sure many others. Sure, he can be difficult to like and his repressed and traumatic rite of passage is no doubt the main cause of his conflictions. However,the good guy comes through in the end.
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48 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A scattershot volume that lacks coherence, 6 Aug 2010
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Andrew Ross "J. Andrew Ross" (Southern England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Hardcover)
The Hitch is a public figure now, so this book will sell whatever I say. But don't expect too much. It's a collection of essays, some quite interesting, some less so, that tend toward autobiography. If, like me, you know some of the protagonists and were there at some of the events, the accounts Hitchens offers can be quite fascinating. But the chapters record a political evolution from naive student Trotskyite to posturing socialite Neoconservative that will grate on you if your views differ from the offered line by so much as a hair.

Given that unwelcome fact, the book has its merits. The book is written with a certain polish and includes some deft phrases. And the cameos of British boarding school life, of Oxford undergraduate demagoguery, of shabby London literary life, and of variously loathsome political and revolutionary figures worldwide, are often sharp and vivid. The energy the Hitch has invested in meeting, like Forrest Gump, all the big names of his time is impressive to behold. But the effect, in the end, is more depressing than inspiring. All that sound and fury has resulted in a scattershot volume that lacks the crafted coherence of a classic.

Hitchens has emphatic views that brook no opposition. As his best friend Martin Amis once said, resistance is futile. With the Hitch it's my way or the highway. In the end, after a mind-numbing recital of famous and infamous events and names of our time interspersed with repeated drum-rolls of self-righteous grandstanding, all leading up to a tedious review of his Jewish roots that exhausts all patience, this reader hit the highway.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surprising and Engaging, 11 Aug 2010
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Hardcover)
This gives a great insight not only to the life of Christopher (and it is is Christopher, as you'll discover) but the context within which he has lived - the hopes of the '68 generation, the over factionalisation of the left, the rise of the right, the dissolution of the Capitalist/Soviet axiom and its overshadowing by the Western v Middle Eastern paradigm which seems to have replaced it. As such it is an important documentation of some of the major debates of the last 40 years.

On a more circumspect level, it is no more deeply moving than when outlining the relationship between himself and his parents, both shocking but awe-inspiring at his ability to simply cope. I enjoyed it immensely and if it is a little "all over the place" in sequence or linearity, I think this reflects the times we've lived through. More than anything, it has reminded me of what an absolutely horrific dictator Saddam was, and offers a different strand to the reasons why some "right thinking" people chose to support the Iraq intervention (although I remain unconvinced but irritated at the debate being centred too readily on legal rather than moral arguments, which were undubitable).

Great account of a life thus far from someone who, while seemingly perceived on the periphery of debate here in Britain at the expense of his diametrically opposed brother, has been at the centre of debates on the big issues and added a brilliant voice which is always coupled with compassion.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic memoir of a very complex man., 4 Jan 2011
This is my first ever book review. So it is going to feel about as smooth as a pimply teen boy fumbling with the bra strap for the first time in his life. Caveat Emptor Reader.

Right off the bat I am going to come out and state that this is easily one of the smartest books I have read in the last few years. It is a rich nuanced book that will not disappoint. I suspect you will improve your IQ by about 10 points just from reading this book. Twice. You think (I can see your exaggerated eyes rolling from here) that I jest. I don't.

Carpe diem. Buy the book.

Now here is Christopher Eric Hitchens. Before I finished with the book I had a vague idea of what a real 'intellectual' was in that sense of the word. I was in no doubt after I finished with the book. So this is the real stuff. And I will now strive to never misapply the title frivolously to someone who does not truly deserve it. Now be warned after you read Hitch-22 you are exposed to a mind so complex, smart and erudite, you will be a miser with the term for a long long time. In my limited frame of reference I'll hand it to maybe Dawkins, Dannett. Maybe Taleb and Naipaul.

This book is not a autobiography for sure and saying it is a memoir would, in the most accepted sense of the term, be wrong. Don't jump into the pond expecting that. It feels (and not in a negative way) like a lose collection of essays about places, events and people that, at the end, was chronologically stacked by the publisher right before going to the printing warehouse. If you feel disheartened to read it is so, you have very little idea what a treat you are in for anyway. Hitch himself confesses at the end chapter that this book is a 'highly selective narrative'. It is. But that is like saying Mozart is a 'limited instrument artist'

Now do note :
I didn't say Hitch-22 is absorbing in the 'Kafka on the Shore' sense, although in a way it so was and more.
I didn't say Hitch-22 is gripping in the 'The Bourne Ultimatum' sense, although in a way it so was and more.
I didn't say Hitch-22 is a page-turner in the strictest 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo ' sense, although in a way it so was and more.

What is so refreshing is the level of real genuine soul bearing honesty Hitch brings to the table. His chapter on his mum almost moves you to tears. Here is a man who is not coy or ashamed to admit he is guilty of some base vice, thought or flaw in himself. He makes little in the way of apology but the very fact that he talks about it so candidly makes one realize how intellectually ethical man you are dealing with. You may not agree with him of everything (and boy does he hate a lot -- Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Islam, God to name a few from a very long list). But I know this too : I would leave the safe keys with him anyway anyday. Here is a person who can be stone cold to his enemies in one paragraph and moved to tears by poetry in the next. There is so much in the book about the latter, I felt a rush of anger at myself and the early schooling years for killing any joy in it. One by making us take TESTS(!) on it. Curse you St.Joesph's!

One irritating miss in the book is how little he talks about his immediate kids and his two wives and one gets the impression that either they did little in terms of impacting his life or they were marginal players on the periphery in the real sense for decades. Which I suspect may actually BE true.

The prose in the book is so mellifluous, so compact and so thoughtful I really thought i would, like the overused cliche, part with maybe some limb to be able to pen 2 pages of something like that once in my life. You know those pretentious wine tasting snobs who make such an elaborate show of taking a sip from the glass, swirling the wine and commenting on the 'bouquet' , 'aroma' et al. Some lines and paragraphs in the book bring you to that level of absorption and involvement, where you really enjoy each line and para and take your time taking it all in. This book can be discussed in the book club for probably a year, chapter by chapter.

Here are a few of my favorite from the book:

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
The usual duty of the "intellectual" is to argue for complexity and to insist that phenomena in the world of ideas should not be sloganized or reduced to easily repeated formulae. But there is another responsibility, to say that some things are simple and ought not to be obfuscated, and by 1982 Communism had long passed the point where it needed anything more than the old equation of history with the garbage can.

Plainly, this unwillingness to give ground even on unimportant disagreements is the symptom of some deep seated insecurity, as was my one-time fondness for making teasing remarks (which I amended when I read Anthony Powell's matter-of-fact observation that teasing is an unfailing sign of misery within)

Very often the test of one's allegiance to a cause or to a people is precisely the willingness to stay the course when things are boring, to run the risk of repeating an old argument just one more time, or of going one more round with a hostile or (much worse) indifferent audience.

Totalitarianism is itself a cliché (as well as a tundra of pulverizing boredom)

One cannot invent memories for other people, and the father figure for my children must be indistinct at best until quite late in their lives. There are days when this gives me inexpressible pain, and I know that such days of remorse also lie in my future. (I distinguish remorse from regret in that remorse is sorrow for what one did do whereas regret is misery for what one did not do. Both seem to be involved in this case.)

I suspect that the hardest thing for the idealist to surrender is the teleological, or the sense that there is some feasible, lovelier future that can be brought nearer by exertions in the present, and for which "sacrifices" are justified.

It is not so much that there are ironies of history, it is that history itself is ironic. It is not that there are no certainties, it is that it is an absolute certainty that there are no certainties.

To have spent so long learning so relatively little, and then to be menaced in every aspect of my life by people who already know everything, and who have all the information they need ... More depressing still, to see that in the face of this vicious assault so many of the best lack all conviction, hesitating to defend the society that makes their existence possible, while the worst are full to the brim and boiling over with murderous exaltation.

To be an unbeliever is not to be merely "open-minded." It is, rather, a decisive admission of uncertainty that is dialectically connected to the repudiation of the totalitarian principle, in the mind as well as in politics.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
I felt bad after reading this book and you will too. Of the 6.5 billion folks on the overcrowded planet, you realize maybe a stadium full of people have lived a life as interesting, exciting and so damn alive as Hitch. I am sorry to say a lot of the politics he lived and pens about went right over my head. (...But as proof of prose, it made me go on amazon and purchase Tony Judt's "Postwar: A History of Europe Since 1945" JUST SO I COULD understand his book better.yup. That good)

And reading the book was like surfing the net in that I was constantly wikipedia'ing so much : Spanish war, Cuban revolution, Trotskyism, myriad poetry verses, about 50+ writers and so on. If books are meant to expand the mind I have not come across too many that match the sheer horsepower of Hitch-22.

Recommend an emphatic 'BUY'.

Also if you are curious about Hitch, here are starter videos to know the man better :
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3.0 out of 5 stars He could certainly write, 24 Jun 2014
By 
Nick Lincoln (Watford, England) - See all my reviews
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The author died in 2011; having never really heard of him before his demise (and make of this what you will) I am not an automatic "fan-boy". And there can be no doubt that Christopher Hitchens drew fans to him like flames to that cliche he would have despised.

He packed an awful lot into his life. Much of it was a wasted, trivial effort, especially early on. But he recalls his life on the edge of "the Left" with good humour and verve. Crisp prose, pacy and not too much "look at me" stuff.

However he was also capable of looking at both sides of an argument and feeling he could pick either - and win: He lacked a binding narrative and perhaps, to some,that was his appeal. But a mid-life lurch from "the Left" to the right is - although predictable and understandable - not a particularly riveting story.

Mea culpa: a fair bit of this tome talks about James Fenton and Edward Said. My ignorance is bottomless: I had never heard of these two before reading this book. Having read it, I do not feel compelled to find out more. Does that say more about me than the source material?

A good writer, somewhat self-obsessed, cosseted in maturity by other scribes and also those who were - especially early on in his adult life - spectacularly wrong about pretty much everything. Representative? No. An everyman voice? No, definitely not. Which is probably the send off he would want.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Hitch in Time, 22 Jun 2014
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
The audiobook is a sad reminder of what a voice, and what an actual voice, we have lost. I approached it with some trepidation as his reviews and essays are among his best writing. I wondered if a reflective autobiography would have the same qualities. I also had only heard his books read by the excellent Simon Prebble. I need not have been concerned on either count. The volume is peppered with reflections and considerations expressed with his usual eloquence and clarity. The death of his mother for example leads to a meditation on suicide, a mistaken death notice to a disquisition on premature obituaries. Hitchens was a master of the footnote, from the pithy and acerbic “Everything about Christianity is contained in the pathetic image of “the flock”” on page 10 to the extensive one on page 143 that embraces both the Goebbels, Sir Oswald Mosely, three Mitfords, Mrs Simpson (as he tellingly calls her even after her marriage to the Duke), the Duke of Windsor and Auberon Waugh. Few readers will empathise with all the twists and turns of his changes of nationality and belief, I had more in common with the early than the late Hitchens. However the story is always interestingly told. Chapters are thematic, with sections on his travels, on Rushdie and on Martin Amis, so it is hard to know what period of his life he is writing about at times. Unlike many autobiographies it is also furnished with an index, useful if you want to cross refer to his essays. All in all a book I am quite sad to have finished.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very Frank and Emotional Memoir, 8 Jun 2014
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From the start, Hitchens is frank and eloquent in his narrative about his own life, from childhood to family tragedy, from revolutionary fervour to a different blend of radicalism. He was a great essayist and it is primarily through essays that his story finds both its engine and its road to follow. It is a book that may make you think twice and a thoroughly enjoyable but emotive read.
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Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens (Paperback - 4 Dec 2010)
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