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on 17 January 2014
Hitchens wrote articles on nearly everything: Blowjobs, Mayor Bloomberg, Water boarding, Isaac Newton, Malcolm Muggeridge, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Cyprus, The Kurds to name a few. His articles were dense with fact and reason, always written with passion and not direct coercion, and always written with wit. making disagreement very hard indeed.

This tome is a representative, but not exhaustive collection of the articles written by Hitchens. Enough are included (Over some 700 pages) to make for an indispensable book; The knowledge contained herein is more than you could ever find in any other work of similar size, and as such this book is of extreme importance to anyone who needs schooling in the events of the last half of the last century.

The author himself needs little extra praise from me. Those not familiar with him have friends who do. These friends undoubtedly say how much the author has influenced their way of thinking and/or what they are thinking. Interested in why this is so? Just buy the book and see
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on 18 October 2011
The diversity and depth of Hitchens's erudition, his understanding, his perception, is almost intimidating. Yes, his reach does, on occasion, extend beyond his grasp; but never without troubling the air above embers that can illuminate as well as burn. At his best (e.g. 'The Vietnam Syndrome', 'Believe Me, It's Torture', or any one of his masterful reviews) his writing is sublime and his insight invaluable. At his worst, he is simply interesting.

For all the sound and fury that surround his opinions on religion and humanitarian intervention, Hitchens stands as the greatest essayist of our time: Reading this collection one cannot help but feel that once that sound and fury has softened, and perhaps once Hitch has entered that extinction to which we all travel, he may well be thought of as one of the greatest of all time.
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on 1 May 2012
I am still reading this but it is proving an interesting compilation of some of his later literary reviews overlaid with his strong personal opinions. To an extent it is more about him, but he was a polymath and a very fine writer, so there is no harm in that. I feel that I learn something from each essay and I might even get around to reading some of the works he discusses.
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on 14 January 2012
There is something for everyone in this book. It's a collection of essays by the great late Christopher Hitchens...I find myself reading one or two essays everyday (and learning a new fact about something interesting) and so far I have enjoyed every single one of them. The topics range from Harry Potter to Charles Dickens and Politics and etc. You will definitely enjoy reading this book..highly recommended.
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There are one or two essayists and columnists {not necessarily, or not quite, the same thing} whose prose leaves me with a feeling of having had my intelligence both flattered and enhanced. Clive James is one, Howard Jacobson another, and the late Christopher Hitchens a titanic third. Tony Judt deserves to be mentioned in such company too.
This huge 800-page collection of essays, reviews, articles and other pieces, gives the full range of the bibulous literary bruiser's humanity, breadth of reading, and depth of understanding.
One doesn't need to agree with everything a cultural commentator says, and it would be a rare acolyte who did, but Hitchens is so much on the side of fairness and good sense {assuming one goes along with his ideas on these concepts, at least most of the time} that reading what he has to say about, say, Anthony Powell {which has made me long to read his novel sequence}, Orwell, Greene, Kipling, Buchan, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Gore Vidal ~ he offers a bracingly unflattering reappraisal of late Vidal, under the typically pungent heading Vidal Loco ~ Waugh, Rowling's Harry Potter {about which he's surprisingly positive}, Mantel's Wolf Hall {ditto}, Wodehouse, Maugham, Dickens, Rebecca West, et al, becomes a pleasure, particularly since Hitchens wrote prose that is clear, unpretentious, seemingly effortless, and beautifully crafted. {It's worth saying that his essay on Waugh, full of qualified praise for the severe old reactionary though it is, and thankfully not slavishly sympathetic to the writing, only reinforces my loathing of Waugh the man and most of what he stood for.}
There are far more chapters on more abstract subjects, including many which are overtly political. I will never agree with him on his notorious backing of the Bush-Blair escapade in Iraq, and included is an equally infamous ~ and, to me, ill-judged ~ piece entitled Why Women Aren't Funny {in which he ignores Victoria Wood, of whom I expect he'd barely heard}. But he is sensible on so much else that one reluctantly accepts his applauding of the Iraq invasion as a kind of peccadillo, borne out of his love of both his native country and his adopted one {the US}, along with his understandable hatred of Middle Eastern theocracies.
Although frequently funny, he isn't as laugh-aloud hilarious as Clive James can be, or as waspishly gossipy as Vidal, or as forensically self-regarding as his friend Martin Amis. But in each paragraph there is a nugget, if only because so well-written. He tends to be forgiving to that of which he basically approves, unforgiving to what he loathes.
Hitchens died of cancer soon after this book's publication in 2011, and a year after another great essayist and his exact contemporary, Tony Judt. To lose two such brilliant commentators and masters of English prose in such quick succession is a tragic loss, if only to the sanity and intellectual health of the mad world they attempted to describe.

Essential reading.
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on 6 February 2013
Released shortly after his tragic death, Arguably is predominantly a collection of Hitchens' later essays and articles, rather than a true career retrospective. But that by no means diminshes its quality. Even in the final decade of his life, Hitchens could write about almost any subject informatively and with ease. From American Presidents, Middle Eastern history, Russian dissidents, to modern British literature and beyond, the breadth and clarity of Hitchens' knowledge was incredible. It's no wonder Richard Dawkins called him the most well read person since Aldous Huxley.

The short essay format means that for such a large book, the pages fly by. The articles average about eight pages in length (though some are as long as thirty, or as short as three), and I was surprised at how quickly I got through them. As soon as you've finished one, you want to move onto the next.

While I would highly recommend `Arguably' to anyone who wants to widen their mind and find out more about the modern world, it does have its flaws. Firstly, it's a little too long, and could have been cut by at least a hundred pages; the last section, Words' Worth, doesn't contain many great articles. My other gripe is that in his book reviews - which make up a large proportion of Arguably - Hitchens often seemed to spend more time writing about the subject of the book than the book itself. And a lot of the reviews go into a detour of briefly reviewing other books on the same subject. It sometimes seemed the main purpose here was to tell the reader how many books Hitchens has read (which is an awful lot), rather than focusing on the work in question.

Despite these minor drawbacks, it is still a great read, and I intend to move onto his other essay collection `Love Poverty and War' next. And hopefully, before long, a collection spanning his whole career will be released.
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on 6 December 2012
Hitchens is hugely well-informed, tremendously eloquent, and argues devastating well. He is liberal (without a trace of wishy-washyness), and radical (without seeming extremist). Reading him feels authentic - considering his massive breadth of reading, he writes a good deal from experience.

In one particularly characteristic essay, he condemns the jihadist atrocities in postwar Iraq - urging us to recognise fundamentalist terrorism clearly for what it is, and not to interpret it as a somehow understandable response to the decision to oust Saddam. (His support of that decision is well known, and is reiterated here. Also, he asks, why is supposedly so difficult to believe that Saddam's WMD were hidden/sold/otherwise transferred ?)

Elsewhere in the volume he targets other established anti-liberal forces : The Ten Commandments (one-by-one); the wearing of burkas; capital punishment of psychiatrically disturbed children in the US. Reciprocally, one moving piece captures the hope felt in Afghanistan after the Taliban's 2004 defeat.

Also victim to the laser of his `arguing' falls anti-science quasi-spiritual mumbo-jumbo, in this case its unfortunate proponent being Prince Charles.

There are lighter, entertaining pieces too: slightly mischievous reflections on gender differences in sense of humour; and on the inexorably global adoption of the English vernacular f*** off.

I feel that he can occasionally overstrain an argument, and that he is sometimes over-critical, but I can forgive him both tendencies, in view of this wealth of frequently perceptive, often courageous, and sometimes quite brilliant observational writing.
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on 30 November 2012
Hitch didn’t suffer fools gladly. And fools don’t like suffering, least of all when the barbs aimed at them were as eloquent, pointed and as well directed on the bull as his generally were. But aside from the knockabout, a more useful and important aspect of his essays, was the light he shines on a wide variety of subjects that other commentators seem to ignore or overlook.

For instance the pantomime which is North Korea is treated almost as a joke by many, but Hitch provides much more detail, some of it truly frightening. His thoughts on the Arab world, in which he has travelled extensively, are also original and informative. And he is not afraid to deal with really dangerous subjects such as “Why Women Aren’t Funny”, but he diffuses that bomb by saying basically that men need to be funny because they are stupid, whilst women aren’t. That doesn’t stop them from rating a man who is funny, but mostly they just get on with it, and save mankind from self-destruction.

Many will miss Hitch, but at coming on for 800 pages and 100+ essays, this book provides plenty to be getting on with and to refer back to in future. It is not so much that he makes one think, which many are averse to doing anyway, but that he gives food for thought, disagreeable though it might sometimes be.
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on 12 January 2012
I'd love to have been a fly on the wall of a Hitchens ~ Rushdie word game. Likely I'd understand but a few of the brilliant puns, allusions and irony, but this huge collection of essays and book reviews will fill a large void in my literary, political and historical education. And it may be a constant reminder of the man and the mind recently lost to English readers. It is a NY Times Book of the Year an I recommend it to everyone interested in Hitchens and his many discussions of our society.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 30 October 2014
This compendium covers The Hitch's contributions to just about every publication that ever employed him. This comprises what might be seen as 107 bullet points (holes more like), in which he covers subjects as various as Philip Larkin's excursus into raciness, into American and U.K. politics, world politics, literature, culture and all the many interests that he had; indeed nothing human was strange to him. He is, as you will know, a great stylist and polymath, with the teacher's gift of making you feel not only that you know more after reading him, but that you wish to know more yet. He never uses jargon, loathes cliché and - this cheeses off his critics no end - he likes to argue rather than assert. His essays from war zones also emphasize that he was physically as well as morally courageous; and if his latterday taking up with Neocons bothers you as it does me, he has earned the right to defend himself and is more than capable. I am not entirely convinced but I reluctantly pay the price of agreeing to differ. It is not as if he has ever cosied up to politicians AND he is never shy of a chance to lambast the Christian Right in his adopted U.S.A.; neither is his half-jewish self afraid to castigate Israel when he sees fit (often); no surprise to find he loathes those he calls, a little glibly, Islamofascists (I taught 2 in England and some are undoubtedly lethal). Each essay can be read in a few minutes and makes for great bedtime reading; indeed in larger doses it would be ideal for the lengthy read or indeed to allow you to ignore the in-flight 'movie.' If I have a criticism - I do - it is that 'The Mouth of Foot' and 'The Life of Johnson' have not made the cut here. They should have been included since they are the finest pyrotechnics this brilliant writer ever devised: to read of 'Johnson's fork' - or 'Projection' as Hitch playfully puns - is a delight; and to have Footie's prose style described as if it were accidental is the very finest whimsy of which we are capable and as funny as anything in my beloved Python. A treat nevertheless, but these two should have been included, without doubt [DO search them out, in 'Prepared for the Worst' and 'For the Sake of Argument' respectively]. The Hitch had a truly marvellous way with language).
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