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157 of 164 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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars He could certainly write
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...
Published 10 months ago by Nick Lincoln


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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best Swansong-Memoirs in living memory, 5 Sept. 2010
By 
Magic Lemur (Somewhere in Madagascar) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Hardcover)
In politics, there are sometimes rare people who seem to reach their pinnacle just before their death and hence are saved an ignominious downfall.
An example that springs to mind is British Prime Minister Disraeli, who said of himself that he'd "climbed to the top of the greasy pole", but was lucky enough never to have to slide back down it (like many before and since).

Hitchens in this book has gone out as he wanted to and I feel that his diagnosis with cancer will see to it that this book stands as a good summary of his career and life.
In it he explores first of all his parents (including his mother, who committed suicide), then moving through his school and university days and moving onto his work all over the World as a journalist.

The narrative is fairly chronological, though it gets quite blurred towards the end of the book and makes the strange omission of talking about his wife (bar one passing reference).

Although I think it's what Hitchens wanted, I don't think it does nearly enough justice to his life and work.
A lot of themes are left unexplored and questions go unanswered - the most obvious one's being the stories behind the photos in the book (e.g. the rather suggestive picture on page 340 of him "With Angela Gorgas"), why he doesn't ultimately want truth to prevail over the falsity of religion and why he disagrees so intensely with George Galloway.

But maybe this was intentional - to leave some mysteries in his wake. In truth, up until the penultimate two chapters, this book satisfactorily answers a lot of questions about his views on Iraq and his relationship with his brother and I actually found this book ended a literary dry spell I was having.

I suppose we aren't meant to know all his secrets, but at least this book gave Hitchens the opportunity to reveal some interesting insights into his charactor, albeit on his own terms...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Visionary, 28 Mar. 2012
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)
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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6 of 7 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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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Smart, sharp, funny, complex, and riddled with celebrities., 19 Oct. 2011
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
This memoir is arranged in themed chapters, rather than in straight chronology: a long chapter on becoming American, for instance, ranges from the '70s right through to 9/11 and beyond, to the author's gaining of US citizenship in a ceremony specially arranged by Paul Wolfowitz. There is a chapter on his mother (suicide? concealed Jewish heritage?), another on his father (stiff upper lip), a slab on Iraq, a chunk about '60s communism in the west, life at university... Hitch has met and locked swords with everyone, it appears, and the book could serve as a who's who of the past half-century: the extensive index drips with names famous in culture and politics.

This is a scintillating and witty read. Hitchens drives his prose like a juggernaut and appears incapable of writing an uninteresting sentence. The trenchant political stuff sometimes takes a lot of chewing, and is at times harrowing (almost casually so, hinting at much worse stories held in reserve). As a bleeding-heart liberal, I had no ready answers for Hitch's hawkish case for invading Iraq: had it been his stark yet humane argument that was used to drag us to war, rather than shaky claims about WMDs, there might have been more public support; although it's clear that the US government in particular was only too happy to have this ostensibly left-wing big-hitter intellectual on side.

Hitch is disarmingly honest about frequently, as he calls it, "keeping two sets of books": holding opposing or ambivalent opinions and presenting different faces to different audiences. This doesn't so much undermine his credibility as demonstrate a constant and open-minded struggle to approach truth, or the least worst untruth. He is prepared to drop dearly-held convictions if the case demands it, a heartening trait and an example to others.

For all that, there are odd omissions: I think Hitchens' first wife and at least one daughter go unnamed, for instance, and we learn almost nothing of his romantic and family life. (His brother Peter, another voluble political commentator but from the other end of the political and theistic spectrum, does get some late coverage.) There is surprisingly little about his latter-day engagement with religion (as its opponent). This is not, then, a formal autobiography, but a selection of reminiscences and reflections, substantial but not exhaustive. Indeed, Hitch seems to have packed so much into every day that a complete autobiography would probably run to several volumes! "Hitch-22" is the product of a powerful and experienced mind firing on all cylinders.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Curate's Egg, 7 April 2015
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
This is, in some ways, an odd book. Beginning with reflections on his own demise spurred by an inaccurate photo caption (this was shortly before he was to receive his diagnosis of terminal cancer) Hitchens writes well and movingly about some of the major figures in his life, yet at the same time the reader is aware of a lot that remains unsaid.

For most people Hitchens is the arch-Leftie who betrayed the cause for a purse of gold late in life, and many of his erstwhile colleagues never forgave him for it. This is a book I have read several times and each time I come away with a picture of a deeply conservative figure who struggled to deal with human emotions, preferring to drown them in booze, literature, and political activity. A superficial view of the two brothers would have Peter as the one who took after his father, while Christopher inherited the charm and (dare I say?) flightiness of his mother. I think, however, they were both children of 'The Commander' above all. Even the most upsetting passages of the book concerning his mother's disillusionment and eventual suicide in Greece are dealt with almost dispassionately, and we never get to see behind the mask. The only real warmth on display comes with the chapters dealing with friends such as James Fenton, Salman Rushdie and, above all, Martin Amis.

I don't know whether Hitchens came to view the autobiographical form as too intrusive during the book's writing, but the majority of the second half is devoted to Hitchens's life as a writer and political activist. There is nothing especially 'bad' about these chapters, but they are easily the most dispensable and their aridity comes as a disappointment. It does, however, serve to illustrate the way that Hitchens clearly used this side of his life as a way of retreating from the more burdensome aspects of emotional ties. It also shows that Hitchens's style lost some of its energy and charm when he was writing about politics rather than, say, literature or religion.
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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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5.0 out of 5 stars The Savoured Contrarian, 1 April 2013
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)
I have to say that I enjoyed this book enormously and, rather than speeding through it, savoured it in small chunks over a few months. Like many people, I have misgivings about some of the positions taken - the biggest of which is Hitchens' unshakeable support for the invasion of Iraq. I believe this to be a war we (in the UK) were taken into on false pretences. The voice of the many who marched against the invasion were simply ignored. Was it about WMD or regime change? That always felt unclear. In the end, there seemed to be no weapons and so it and to be about regime change. That said, I discovered, through this book, many unknown horrors about Saddam Hussein's regime.
Hitchens clearly feels that he has followed his conscience regardless of resulting difficulties - in this and other matters - and I have to respect this.

As regards writing and (I imagine) conversation, Hitchens strives and succeeds in avoiding two things, clumsy prose and boredom. He is a master of that rarest of things the long, complex and yet flowing sentence. A lover of poetry, he has an ear for the sound and rhythm of writing and this makes for great reading.

Part of me wants to compare my love of Hitchens' writing with others love of Wagner's music regardless of associations. However, I feel that this is vey unfair on Hitchens.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A true "must read"., 7 May 2012
By 
G. Heywood (Northamptonshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)
Wow, what an incredible eye-opening read. I have never had a high opinion of journalists (or even a low one), but I get the impression that Christopher Hitchens was a pretty amazing person. Actually, a genius. Not just in terms of his obvious academic ability (which is clearly way above average), but also in his attempts to try and change the world for the better, even on a small scale. He moved in circles that seem almost unbelievable to the me, despite his modest upbringing and coming from such an "ordinary" family, but had such a rise to an obviously influential person, without it seeming to go to his head. It was really interesting to read about his upbringing, his influences, and his ideals. If the influence of him and his friends was only a fraction of what he things they were, it is still something to be admired.

I certainly don't agree with all of his opinions (I would consider myself more Tory than Socialist, but then I was born in the 70's, so grew up long after his beloved 60's) but that did not detract from my enjoying and fascination in any way.

Two things though, I will definitely need to read it again next year, and thank god I read it on a kindle app with a built-in dictionary.

His is a loss to those lucky enough to know him, and to humanity in general.
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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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This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Kindle Edition)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars He may have changed teams at half time but at least he never found god., 10 Mar. 2015
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
"A gin soaked popinjay!" or words to that effect is what George Galloway said on Hitchens a few days after his death, which is a fair and accurate enough point, but I know who I'd rather be sharing one with.

This is a really compelling memoir with plenty to get your teeth into. As ever this flawed man never shies away from airing his thoughts. Whether you agree with him or not he always makes for interesting reading. We learn how he went from an Orwell obsessed leftie, transforming into a bizarre flag waving, neo-con who relocated to the US with a border line insane refusal to see America's incredibly flawed and damaging foreign policy.

He tells us about some of his other engaging wanders into other parts of the world during the Cold War etc. His Cambridge years make for good reading too and his thoughts on Judaism seem strangely at odds to what he was saying in "god Is Not Great". He beams about a flirtatious encounter with Thatcher, he insists that you should only drink expensive alcohol and his thoughts on the working class poverty from a train window are revealing.
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Hitch 22: A Memoir
Hitch 22: A Memoir by Christopher Hitchens
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