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2.5 out of 5 stars
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2.5 out of 5 stars


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on 9 December 2015
I've read this book about three times now and every time I come back to its Amazon page, I am so pleased to see how pissed off every Hitchens fanboy continues to be simply by the continued existence of this book. It is a damning piece of work and incredibly enjoyable to read.

Though this is not to say it does not have its problems. Along with many of the reviewers here whose prose is mostly denegrated by faux-outrage, some of Seymour's assertions can be a little below the cuff, unsubstantiated or downright mean. One example that I can think of (but not the page number) is when Seymour asserts that Hitchens frequently indulged in rape jokes - and as someone who has read nearly all of Hitchens' work, I've yet to come across that kind of remark. But this is all part of the knock-out suplex, employed by Seymour in dazzling style that sometimes strays into the verbose - though this rarely impinges on clarity.

Anyway, onto the positives. Seymour has a great eye for detail. A lot of his arguments are sincerely backed up by judicious fact, linear, easy-to-follow logic, and a hatred for the kind of turncoat politics Hitchens eventually succumbed to; the kind of politics that saw him turn his back on the nobility of the socialist endeavour, and in naive favour of an American empire whose downfall is not only imminent but necessary. Though this is not to say Seymour completely does away with Hitchens as a worthy subject. There are plenty of occasions when Seymour allows his old admiration of Hitchens to shine through, particularly preceding 2001. It's clear Seymour is a part of the Left who was saddened and disappointed by the brainrot that eventually descended upon Hitchens, the kind of brainrot he was known to eviscerate in one single, mine-laden sentence. I was particularly engrossed in the Theophobia chapter when Seymour discusses Hitchens' militant atheism as a defence for his own Iraq advocation: "I would have gotten a way with it too if it weren't for pesky religion... blah blah blah."

This book is essential to any reader who takes Christopher Hitchens seriously and is serious about understanding a man who was deeply flawed and wrong on a lot of things. Although many of his Marxist tenets remained unchanged, Hitchens gave in his socialist, humanitarian cowl for a blood-soaked American flag. Seymour understands this and wastes no time in doing away with the imperial man of letters. Although I would like to see Seymour write an essay or follow up book discussing what he admires or admired about Hitchens, I don't think it's likely.

And as for the Hitchens cult who have attacked this book on every review site I can see, your attempts are laughable and your unheaded frothing at the mouth over this Necon is vapidly ahistorical and politically opportunistic. Although Hitchens made the best case for the Iraq invasion this is not a high standard. His arresting war-mongering lead to the acknowledged death of one American boy and probably tens if not hundreds more. I agree with James Wood that consistency is for cooking but there's no doubt in my mind that Hitchens is guilty of every political sin as accused by Seymour.

(If you wish to read the kind of review the Hitchens cult would fawn over, read George Eaton's obtuse and stupid review in the New Statesman.)
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on 19 September 2016
Absolute 'babble'........ Punching above his brain power by many a click. Not so gobby when Christopher was around, he would have verbally sherrd this clown !!!!!!!
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on 3 August 2013
The first thing to note about this book is that despite its meagre length it contains so many inaccuracies, non sequiturs, gross simplifications and syllogistic blunders that any review could comfortably exceed the length of the actual book simply by addressing them. Therefore for the convenience of all i will limit myself to addressing only a few short examples of Mr. Seymour's false logic and gross misrepresentation.

The book opens with the rather cloying dedication: `To Marie, whose hatred is pure. With all my love.' And things - quite unbelievably - only go downhill from there. But in fact, this dedication could aptly describe Seymour's view of Hitchens: pure hatred. Throughout the book Seymour is not content in merely excoriating Hitchens' political views, he is also determined to smear his character in every way imaginable. This book contains a number of nasty and invidious accusations and attacks on Hitchens's personal character, all supported by no more than a few off-hand anecdotes combined with the single-mindedness of Seymour to declare Hitchens a complete scumbag in all areas of life, to grant him no redeeming features, and to vilify him as some sort conniving trick-artist who weaselled his way to the top.

For example: he apparently `enjoyed abusing social inferiors - his habit of being rude to waiters, perhaps in emulation of the journalist Pappenhacker in Evelyn Waugh's Scoop' - When checked, it becomes obvious that this is a groundless accusation, made with one flimsy citation to a Martin Amis article. In fact, Martin Amis himself had said that Hitchens was just as likely to insult a King as a waiter, and that he judged people purely on their merit - he had not time or respect for social standing. Yet a story of him being rude to a waiter is construed as a habit of 'abusing social inferiors.' Likewise, an appreciation of the poetry of Phillip Larkin is equated with a latent racism, finding abortion repugnant is evidence of misogyny, accusations of gross plagiarism for (as far as i can see) not using 'a standard form of citation' and also frequent 'self-plagiarism' (not sure why this means anything) for republishing many of his essays in books. By supporting the Falklands war Hitchens showed himself to have `a soft spot for empire' - this being supported by another nasty bit of bombastic and misrepresentative rhetoric:

`When the Falklands were invaded by the Argentinian dictatorship, the younger Hitchens found himself out­raged at the offence to British power, only to be disappointed by his father's lack of bloodlust.'

And if that wasn't enough he then accuses him of 'instinctive Thatcherism' that 'kicked out most forcefully' around the time of the Falklands war, but then follows that up by saying 'he wrote nothing favourable to Thatcher at the time and did not trumpet his prowar sentiment widely' - and then continues by recounting an anecdote from a woman who claimed Hitchens was stridently behind the war from the off. In this manner Seymour contradicts himself multiple times in just a couple of pages. 'Islamophobia' is given as further evidence for Hitchens' racism, but here Seymour's argument is again completely lacking congruity:

'Here are some of the elements of Islamophobia as identified by the Runnymede Trust, a British think tank that focuses on race. Islamophobia treats Islam 'as a monolithic bloc, static and unresponsive to change; 'as separate and "other" ; 'as inferior to the West: 'as violent, aggressive, threatening, supportive of terrorism and engaged in a "clash of civilisations"'

Seymour uses this to define Hitchens as an Islamophobe. Yet Hitchens frequently referred to this clash as a result of a civil war within Islam that has been exported into the West, so he could not possibly have viewed it to be monolithic. Thus Seymour's assertion that `on each of these points, Hitchens must be judged an Islamophobe' is a complete falsehood. Nor does Seymour explain why some random thinktank has a monopoly over the English language and a right to define words as they please.

Moreover, quite obvious differences of opinion are declared by Seymour as 'errors', and many of the `errors' based on factual observance tend to be a result of a misreading on the part of Seymour. Take this for example:

'Further (of Hitchens') theological errors include the claim that 'the Jews borrow shamelessly from Christians in the pathetic hope of a celebration [ Hanukkah ] that coincides with "Christmas" : whereas the origin of Hanukkah predates Christianity, and thus Christmas, and is supposed to have been celebrated by Jesus himself.'

Except Hitchens did not say that Christmas predated Hanukkah, that was merely assumed by Seymour. If Seymour had done his research properly instead of crudely smearing at every opportunity, then he would have known that Hanukkah is considered as only a minor holiday in the Torah, and the reason it has become such a large celebration for Jews is because it coincides with Christmas and has thus been used as an opportunity for celebration and present giving. What Hitchens was most likely referring to here was the commercialisation of a Jewish tradition to merely fit in with the present-giving atmosphere of Western societies, not that the Hanukkah tradition had been simply made up to imitate Christmas.

The primary accusation of the book, however, appears to be that Hitchens was a puppet to the George Bush administration. Seymour asserts that Hitchens was "the George W. Bush administration's amanuensis". Yet his book avoids mentioning that Hitchens acted as a plaintiff in a lawsuit brought against the administration for its warrantless wiretapping programme, accused Bush of "near-impeachable irresponsibility in the matter of postwar planning" and denounced him as an "idiotic and psychically damaged Sabbath-fanatic""

Worst of all is that all this fallacious invective is conveyed in turgid, semi-unreadable prose, which is jam-packed with syntactical and grammatical errors that many A-level students would be incapable of making. Some examples being:

''National culture' in its Orwellian declination was ultimately essentialist and organicist, so that he treated as essential various characteristics that are more likely to be - where not fanciful - conjunctural or historically produced.' - huh?

'Such alarmist augury hardly attests to Orwell's good sense and perspicacity in the manner that Hitchens would suggest.' - hmmm....

'How was Clinton a war criminal for having bombed El-Shifa and sites in Afghanistan, but somehow putting up military resistance to Serbian ultranationalism and aggression in Yugoslavia.' - what the huh?

All in all, this is a book of crude distortions, shocking use of language, and resentful calumnies. It is the show trial of an ideological apostate, but it is so poorly constructed and badly written that thankfully no-one that has not already made up their minds will believe or respect it. In the end, are Seymour's sinister accusations and a handful of cherry-picked quotes, plucked unfailingly from those who were already known to detest Hitchens, truly worthy of contributing in any way to any serious discourse about the life and ideas of Christopher Hitchens? My answer is no - this is near unreadable trash, and deserves to be treated as such.
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on 23 January 2014
It intrigued me that such a book could actually be written and be considered even slightly credible. With this interest in mind, I thought I would at least indulge Mr. Seymour for a couple hours of my life. All 160 pages of his book consist, almost literally, of one man's clear frustration and annoyance that someone can change their political views after a life changing event. This idea clearly frustrates Mr. Seymour to the point where it makes him very angry.

Luckily, his assumptions, conclusions and twisting of ideas have no bearing. This is considerably well timed in that if he had voiced such statements 4 years ago, Christopher himself would have rebutted all of Mr. Seymour's misunderstandings and speculation with charm and ease. Perhaps Mr. Seymour had hoped that this book would stand up like undeniable evidence would do in that of a court, but I can tell you now that it is nothing more than a spiteful piece of slander that is not to be humored, listened to or taken seriously, only refunded.
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on 2 February 2013
As an admirer of the late Christopher Hitchens I was probably never going to like this book but, all the same, I tried to read it with an open mind.

I shouldn't have bothered in all honesty, for this is a poorly-done hatchet job written by an oddball with a huge chip on his shoulder about one of the finest polemicists England has ever produced.

The book does little more than use long and silly words to rehearse the same tired cliches about Hitchens turning into a "Neo-con" and an "islamophobe" with no appraisal of the changing world after 9/11.

As it happens, like the author I also believe that Hitchens was wrong about the war in Iraq; I just don't believe he was as wrong as people like Seymour and the leaders of the Stop the War Coalition, who threw their support behind the woman-haters of Hamas and the thuggish Iraqi "resistance" while it murdered socialists and trade unionists.

The book's outcome was never in any doubt of course, for Richard Seymour and his depraved crew the "Socialist Workers' Party" (the latest cult to become embroiled in a rape scandal) views Islamic fascism as a new revolutionary force which anti-capitalists can climb on the back of to defeat the evil US "imperialists" (that word comes up A LOT, by the way).

I suppose it shouldn't be a surprise to find those who Hitchens exposed as sympathisers of totalitarianism and bigotry continuing to hate the man with such intensity after he has died.
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on 5 February 2013
Half expecting that Unhitched might be a crude piece of character assassination, it was with some misgivings that I began reading it. Having read it, Seymour's conclusion that Hitchens "became a living and ignominious satire on himself." is no more than was to be expected from a keeper of the secular flame of Trotskyism, with its sectarianism and vengeful hatreds.

As someone said elsewhere, leaving a groupuscule of the far Left is akin to leaving the Mafia. Such defectors may expect to be slaughtered figuratively if not literally. And while the cult of Socialist Workers Party (SWP) true believers remains numerically tiny, there are tens of thousands of people in the UK who have at one time or another held membership of it, or its predecessor the International Socialists, and are now adjudged to be apostates, heretics, or bourgeois turncoats. One might speculate that it could be either a fear of the vituperation leaving would incur and/or the onset of Stockholm Syndrome among its members that saves the SWP from complete collapse.

That Hitchens was a bruiser, that he craved for an ever-expanding audience, that his ambitions would not scruple to prevent him elbowing aside friends as well as rivals on occasion, was fairly widely known long before Seymour began his hatchet job. Against those failings were his articles and his reports over thirty years that earned him distinction, embodying as they did intelligent analysis, courage and a readiness to tackle issues and subjects that most in Journalism either did not think about, or lacked the courage to pursue. He also maintained many enduring friendships and his early support for Salman Rushdie in respect of the Fatwa is greatly to his credit. Yes folks, he was imperfect. He had warts but, there again, Marx was plagued by boils ...

Allowing that many of the 1.2 billion Muslims were not in thrall to Osama Bin Laden, and that Muslims are the main victims of the Dark Age savagery of reactionary Islam, 9/11 was an outrage that only hardened anti-Americans sought to justify or, worse, felt elated about. That there were those arguing that it was a comeuppance for America was beneath contempt, evoking as it did the worst kind of moral relativism.

Hitchens was open about his admiration of life in the US and it would have been surprising, given the fame and notoriety he earned for himself in that country, had he failed to share in the anger so widely felt over the deaths of nearly three thousand women, men and children, the immediate victims of 9/11, or that it presented him with a litmus test of belief and affiliation. Irrespective of 9/11, that he called for the removal of Saddam Hussein is to his credit; moreso having read Kanan Makiya's Republic of Fear, which revealed the horrors visited on the Iraqi people by that putrid, murderous regime.

There is little in Unhitched that is new. The claim that Hitchens was really a bourgeois reversionist and that the signs were there for true believers to see long before it reasserted itself, is an accusation probably levelled at the many thousands who, like Hitchens, have managed to wrench themselves from the SWP - an organisation which is becoming increasingly irrelevant and well beyond the pale. Pitiful, really. Worse is the groundless charge of Islamophobia. Hitchens was not anti-Muslim and while advancing his atheist critiques of all religions, was pointedly opposed to the Salafists/Wahhabists and their ilk - fanatics for whom murderous intolerance is a first resort. The obvious point to make here is that if it is Islamophobic to oppose those who violently advocate and pursue the imposition of global Sharia, then, along with millions of others, no sleep will be lost by being so labelled.

A more balanced is the book Christopher Hitchens and his Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left edited by Simon Cottee and Christopher Cushman, where Hitchens was able to respond to some of his critics, including the author of Unhitched.

Will Unhitched deter me from reading or rereading Hitchens? No, there are too many gems among the articles and essays of Hitchens for him to be discounted. More important, perhaps, is that the very fact that he stands excommunicated by the far Left is surely an irresistible invitation for those who haven't yet done so to begin reading his books and articles - much more rewarding to read than the transcript of a rigged show trial conducted in the absence of the accused.
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on 20 May 2013
Poorly written and argued; cynical and unconvincing at best, defamatory and misrepresentative at worst. Can't help but think this book has been churned out in order to make some money off the back of Hitchen's death. Seymore would have done well to take note of the great man when he said: "everybody has a book in them, but in most cases that is where it should stay."
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on 4 April 2013
I proceeded no further than the opening sentence in the description of this... book.

"Among the ranks of the ex-Leftists, most of whom are readily forgotten, Christopher Hitchens stands out as someone determined to do just that."

Sorry. To do just what?

To readily forget something?

See, it doesn't make sense.

Next.
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on 11 December 2013
Pathetic and cowardly that this would be written posthumously.
Ironic that speaking ill of the dead goes largely against Christian societal values. I'm sure that would make Hitchens laugh.
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on 23 November 2013
The reviews of this book really do confirm how necessary it is.
Hitchens was a man who liked to be known as an iconoclast, it is a pity his fans can't see past their religious fervour to realise this is iconoclasm of the highest form. Reviews trying to defend Hitchens as a leftist, by saying he was an anti-facist, and despised islamo-fascism ought to be ashamed. Any leftist (and surely antitheist) worthy of the title will be aware of the causes of religion and of how terms like islamo-facist and islamo-phobe are nothing more complex then racism.
This brilliantly writing book is essential. Every Hitchslap youtube addict and commentator should read it and reassess the empty rhetoric of this abhorrent man.
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