Top critical review
Some good ideas, but also some very troubling nostalgia
on 11 April 2017
There's some very valuable stuff in here, and I found it thoroughly entertaining, but I really cannot stand Peter's verbose wallowings in his own sin, and unhealthy wish for repentance. It seems to have so little in common with the liberal, enlightened church of England, which is a lot better than its brutal medieval counterpart, especially in its consideration of medical issues. Hitchens seems to want to turn back the clock to a utopia which really wasn't all that good; the medieval era, and later the Victorian era (both periods of more convicted belief) had some really serious problems, like the repression of the working class and the subjugation of women.
Whilst he evidently looks back on his childhood with some level of nostalgia, I think many people do, and that's not necessarily symptomatic of how objectively 'good' society was, but rather how he personally found it. For example, at one point he recounts how there never used to be 'fathers of fourteen years old', except teenage pregnancy rates are currently extremely low.
I also found it extremely frustrating the way he attacked the Soviet Union for being the epitome of the left's utopia, whilst ignoring the fact that intellectuals at the time like George Orwell denounced the whole idea of it. Communism in the Soviet Union also had a lot more in common with feudalism than Karl Marx' doctrine, in that the general population were equally oppressed and unhappy, but a minority of elites were afforded special privileges. That being said, he did have some very valuable things to say in the later chapters, and it some ideas were highly thought provoking.