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on 23 August 2013
My bias is that I have been a long time admirer of George Orwell both as a writer and a socialist/humanist. At school in the late sixties both Animal Farm and 1984 were required reading. Even at 14, we got the politics of Animal Farm. Later in my early teenage years, it was Homage to Catalonia and Road to Wigan Pier that resonated. Lately it has been re-reading articles, essays and reviews for the enjoyment of his writing clarity and analysis. So I was not expecting Mr Hitchens' book to increase my thinking about Orwell. But it did. Yes, there was an initial salvo of bombast but this is a well constructed appreciation and test of Orwell as a writer, political person and human being. It is informative, critical thought at its best! Through this emerges Eric Blair, with flaws but a mighty heart and appetite for thought and people. Although it would be expected that George Orwell might well be a historical anachronism by now, he still remains relevant, if only by demonstrating the value of having a mind that tests orthodoxy and calling the unacceptable-unacceptable and telling you why. After reading this I went back and read Animal Farm and will revisit George Orwell's novels.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 13 October 2016
An argument for George Orwell's work. It's not a biography of Orwell though there are some tantalising snippets of information about the man and his politics. Orwell hated being a policeman (in Burma) and resigned rather abruptly, maintaining a distrust of police generally for the rest of his life, as well as a dislike of colonialism. For this he seemed ahead of his time except for a dislike of homosexuality. The book is loaded with great observations: 'Conquering nations use racism as a way of pushing exploitation beyond the point that is normally possible by pretending that the exploited are not human beings.' It's interesting to note when he worked at the BBC the room where editorial meetings for the Eastern Services were held was Room 101. The lengthening shadow of Nineteen Eighty-Four was everywhere: 'Totalitarianism, if not fought against, could triumph anywhere' he says, having taken a bullet in the neck fighting the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. In a 1947 essay Orwell concluded: 'A socialist United States of Europe seems to me the only worthwhile political objective today'. Oh dear, not since the 2016 Brexit vote. 'England was a family with the wrong members in control with rich relations who are horribly kowtowed to, and poor relations who are horribly sat upon' he said.
In May 1946 he wrote something quite pertinent for today's Jeremy Corbyn Labour Party: ' The main danger from any Communist-led split in the Labour movement was that it could hardly result in a Communist controlled government, but it might bring back the Conservatives'.
An interesting read.
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on 21 April 2018
I have always been a huge fan of Hitchens for mainly stylistic reasons, however this book though it has interesting sections isn't written in a very accessible fashion but more for the academic or the reader who is already very familiar with the subject matter under discussion.
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on 20 June 2015
Christopher Hitchens, as usual, gives an erudite review of Orwelll generally. Yes the book lived up to my expectations. I think that it is right to say that Orwell will always "matter".. If only there was a commentator half as good as him around today.
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on 17 October 2017
Surprising and provocative.
Those who love Hitchens will not be disapointed.
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on 19 June 2015
As usual.. Christopher Hitchens is right on the money with this one! It's what we all know, if we're honest with ourselves; but it often takes someone like C.H. to make us see it!! Hitch lives on! Long live Hitch! Brilliant!!
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on 10 October 2016
It's an extraordinary book. One that I have dropped into every now and again for many years but only now have I read it continuously from cover to cover.
It's one of those "essential reading" books
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on 21 June 2013
There are few more cogently written books that I have come across that also deal with the core of modern political ills and do so so gracefully. Any lover of good writing, of compelling argument and important subject matter will revel in this book.
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on 4 August 2014
In the middle of this. I love Hichens!
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on 14 July 2015
I love Hitchens and Orwell for that mater, but this is not his best work. Difficult read but no doubt very scholarly
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