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86 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the books of the year, 27 Mar 2010
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This review is from: The Rage Against God: Why Faith is the Foundation of Civilisation (Hardcover)
Not perhaps what I expected - less a tightly argued polemic than an occasionally argumentative memoir. Thankfully, like The Broken Compass, it happens to be some of the best biographical writing around today - much as Hitchens would probably disown such a judgement.

For all his image as a snarling conservative, Hitchens' written persona is a joy to spend time with. Fiercely but properly original (his observations all have solid premises, rather than being cheap shocks), curmudgeonly but graceful, and with winning depths of earnestness and nostalgia; he is never boring, frequently compelling, and usually provocative and sympathetic in equal measure. The trouble is, there are so few people out there actually writing down proper thoughts in proper sentences anymore. Most writing today is just the wisdom of the age in the clichés of the time: dislocated, tedious and hollow. It's like reading through mental smog. So I'm sure those who do not agree with a drop of Hitchens' politics or religion would still find the sheer clarity and warmth of this book's prose engaging.

I think one or two of its points are so striking that a little more tracing out of their foundations and implications would have been enjoyable. The death of faith in England, and the likely conclusion of atheism, are perhaps the two most important subjects when looking at the past century and looking ahead in the present one. But the book's subtle approach to its subject is haunting and memorable even without this. And much of its message is perhaps more powerful for being unspoken.

Probably the best English political writer since Orwell. And certainly the least self-satisfied, most interesting autobiographer writing in England today.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 29 Mar 2010 19:06:47 BDT
Mally Malone says:
I thoroughly agree with you-- autobiography might well be Peter Hitchens's strongest suit.

Posted on 14 Jul 2010 16:52:59 BDT
Ross Burns says:
His brother, Christopher, is nearer than Peter to that high standard.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jul 2010 20:00:58 BDT
Lark says:
I dont think either of them compare to Orwell but I think Peter is a better writer than Chris.

Posted on 12 Jan 2012 10:41:50 GMT
Last edited by the author on 15 Mar 2012 11:35:31 GMT
"It's like reading through mental smog. So I'm sure those who do not agree with a drop of Hitchens' politics or religion would still find the sheer clarity and warmth of this book's prose engaging."

It's fascinating how different people can see different things!! I can see no warmth and little clarity. Had it occurred to you that the Hitchens approach to Christian belief (hiding behind church pillars, avoiding any thought on how secularism might be overcome etc) might bear some of the responsibility for what you describe as "the death of faith in England" - if it was ever Christian faith in the first place?

I'm about to post my own review.
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Location: Oxford, UK

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