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Compelling And Provocative,
This review is from: Hitch 22: A Memoir (Paperback)
This set of memoirs from once-socialist, rabid atheist, anti-Zionist, anti-Islamist author and journalist Christopher Hitchens makes for compelling reading and, despite disagreeing with plenty of what Hitchens has to say, I came away from this book at least respecting that the author had arrived at his various political positions honestly and with (at least some degree of) humility. That is not to say that Hitchens is not at times arrogant and self-indulgent (as well, of course, as being a serial name-dropper), but it does take a good deal of courage to admit (to all and sundry) that much of one's youthful ideals were, in retrospect, misplaced.
As well as writing with a compelling and witty mixture of affection and rebellion on his upbringing by (eventually) estranged parents in the forces, Hitchens focuses in the main on the key elements that shaped his (mercurial at times) political thinking on issues such as Vietnam, imperialism, socialism, interventionism, religion, Islamism, Irish republicanism and the Israel/Palestine question. Hitchens' support for the Iraq war is, of course, well-known and it is on this subject that he is at his most defensive. Whilst I fundamentally disagree with him on this issue, his case for the removal of Saddam Hussein is well argued (albeit blindingly obvious) and clearly expressed 'from the heart'. What I would take issue with him on though is his characterisation of the UK anti-Iraq war marches (since they were not just confined to London, Christopher) as being filled with 'Muslim Brotherhood' and 'the rump of British Stalinism', the absence of his addressing the political duplicity of the US and UK governments, and his (frankly mawkish) focus on a single US soldier (one of many honest well-meaning such soldiers, I have no doubt) who gave his life in the war, with barely a mention of the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians who also lost their lives. A touchy subject, obviously.
Nevertheless, my respect for his views remains in what is a well-written and compelling set of political memoirs.