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on 8 February 2014
I sat on this for two years before finally reading it. It's not an easy read, and I didn't agree, or like, everything in it. BUT - and it's a big BUT - the author is rightfully angry, and so was I after I finished it.

Two areas in particular hit me. The first was the chapter on Salman Rushdie - I'd forgotten just how badly he was treated. His books were burnt in a British city, and a foreign theocrat, claiming the allegiance of millions, pronounced a death sentence on him. And the result was a queue of people of people from the Archbishop of Canterbury to the Chief Rabbi claiming to "understand the hurt" suffered by "the Muslim Community" (actually a tiny self-selected bunch of trouble-makers representing no-one but themselves) - who hadn't read, of course, the Satanic Verses. The Right, of course, just considered him an uppity immigrant and moaned about the cost of the security required to protect Rushdie - just in case you've forgotten, the Japanese translator was killed, the Italian translator stabbed, and the Norwegian publisher shot - and the Left were at best ambivalent, following the "my enemy's enemy is my friend" principle; since the touchstone of the Guardian-type Left is hatred of the US, and fundamentalist Islam hates the US, then they can't be all bad, can they?

It's this latter aspect which is the other key issue - the relativism used by the "Post-modern Left" to justify almost anything if it's anti-Western; "stoning women to death? Nothing to do with fundamentalist Islam - just typical of religion, innit?" Funny old world - I've never known my 90 year old Methodist neighbour to issue a fatwah against anyone...

To quote Hitchens:

"Most depressing still, to see that in the face of this vicious assault so many of the best lack all conviction, hesitating to defend the society that makes their existence possible, while the worst are full to the brim and boiling over with murderous exaltation"

Amen to that.
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on 21 June 2017
Amazing read - although I must admit I feel out of place reviewing the work of someone so talented. I bought the kindle version and there are no issues with it that I came across.
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on 3 April 2017
Great read
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on 11 August 2010
I chose this book as my holiday read. And what a good choice it was too. Hitchens is a man who usually polarizes people into one of two camps - you either love him or hate him. I try not to engage in such ideological flag waving, suffice to say, I would consider myself to be one of those who he seems to have left on 'the left' ....so to speak. His memoir takes us through his early years, with chapters devoted to his father and mother ( who i hadn't realised met with such a grizzly end). He treats us to his stint at Oxford, his experiences of the sixties, there are chapters devoted to other great loves in his life such as James Fenton, Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and needless to say Edward Said.
Hitch elucidates upon how he first had misgivings about his ultra-socialist leanings, and he provides us with insight as to his dismay at the tendency of some 'comrades' to ignore the rather brutal underpinnings of the spread of the socialist revolution, and how the obvious warts were seen as beauty spots by 'the party faithful'. He has a chapter on his burgeoning love affair with all things American, which is a little rose tinted it has to be said. He seems to refuse point blank to consider that any behaviour of the USA might, in part, explain the attacks of 9/11, which for a man who easy fillets others for such naivety, is quite surprising. His chapter on Edward Said angered me a little, as the late great professor is no longer with us to defend himself to the charges Hitch lays at his door. But it is his memoir, so his rules. His attempt to defend his seeming volte face to the right, reads like the worlds longest excuse. He portrays it as if he was able to find that which Hans Blix wasn't and he refers to being a conscious part of history making as quite an 'intoxicating feeling'. Perhaps it is this which helps explain his apparent abandonment of his earlier principles. It seems to me that Hitch views himself in the same mold as George Orwell (who gets many a mention), as a chronicler of great and interesting times and an iconclast to long held fallacies in our world. The difference being that in Orwell's time, western civilization really was facing an existential crisis. It is this missing component in Hitch's world which explains his apparent desire to ratchet up the hyperbole of the 'threat of Islam' and odious regimes to the east of us, the need for 'civilized' nations to go about spreading civilized notions of 'democracy' and 'freedom'....all at the business of a gun of course.
Toward the end Hitch treats us to a detailed account of his awakening to his Jewish ancestry and how he never viewed zionism as a solution to 'the jewish question'. We see how he traced the footsteps of his jewish ancestors in Eastern Europe, which is tragic to read.
He has an unattractive tendency to ad hominen against those he dislikes, such as Clinton et al, the book would have been so much better if he had reined that in. All in all, I would recommend this book to his fans and opponents alike (of which I count myself as both). He had led a life the quarter of which would make most of us proud to recount, and no matter what his old friend Martin Amis might say, he has a great command of the language, all resulting in this wonderful book. To the man himself I forward him my best wishes and hope that he beats the big C, because like him or loathe him, Im sure we all hope theres a few glasses left in the old boy yet !
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on 30 June 2016
Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was among the leading lights of the English '1968 generation' of student radicals opposed to the Vietnam war. His political position was both more extreme and more intellectual than most: a Trotskyist able and willing to defend his position in any company. Forty years later, during and after a career as a foreign correspondent and polemical columnist, he came to support the US war against Saddam Hussein while a new generation of leftists opposed it. How had his convictions changed so much? Explaining the answer, this book is part autobiography, part apologia, showing that Hitchens' consistent stance was opposition to totalitarianism in all its forms, whether as dictatorship, capitalism or religion. Some of the causes he supported have lost their interest now, but Hitchens' life exemplifies the importance of critical thinking as a cure for the indolence that allows the assertive to have their way.
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on 26 September 2013
This is a memoir first published in 2010. My copy is the 2011 edition that includes a forward by Hitchens having earlier that same year been diagnosed with oesophageal cancer. He died in December 2011.
Christopher Hitchens was an author, journalist, essayist, pamphleteer and superb orator. His debating skills, honed at Oxford, were sharp, insightful and could leave his opponent feeling like they had undergone ten rounds with Cassius Clay.
To my utter shame I didn't start taking an interest in Christopher Hitchens and his writings until around 2005. My introduction to Hitchens was through my love of the works of George Orwell. I stumbled upon Christopher Hitchens biographical essay `Orwell's Victory ', (known as `Why Orwell Matters' in the USA), in a second hand bookshop. Not only was `Orwell's Victory' a superb piece of literature and a cracking read but it had the effect of wanting to know more about Mr. Hitchens.
Hitch 22 details his relationship with his parents, loving, beautiful but distant mother and uncommunicative, stoic but heroic father. Names are dropped within the book like so many autumn leaves; Salman Rushdie, James Fenton, Richard Dawkins, Martin Amis etc etc. But, this is not an attempt by Christopher Hitchens to show off or communicate to the outside world about his highly influential friends. Each name is `dropped' to illustrate a point or to help frame a chapter and give it context.
There have been many superlatives used to describe Christopher Hitchens, erudite, witty, passionate and rhetorically astute. It is not only hard to think of new ones but it is difficult to disagree with any of them.
Hitch 22 is 422 pages of the English language in perfect harmony. His writing style is the language equivalent of the Taj Mahal or the Potala Palace in Tibet: beautifully constructed with no superfluous building materials.
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on 9 April 2017
A fascinating book by a fascinating man. It is very honest and amusing.
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on 16 May 2017
good price great read and hitch was some guy rest in peace mate
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 22 January 2013
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.
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on 26 March 2017
Lost interest half way through. A pity because I think the man was a genius
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