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Hitch-22: A Memoir

Christopher Hitchens.
Publisher Twelve  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.35 x 1.3 inches
ISBN 9780446540339
Pages/Publication Date 435/2010
Daedalus Item Code 38251
This item is not available.
Over the course of 60 years, Christopher Hitchens was a citizen of the United States and also the United Kingdom; he was a socialist opposed to the war in Vietnam who became a supporter of the U.S. war in Iraq; and he was alternately a foreign correspondent in some of the world's most dangerous places and a bon vivant with an unquenchable thirst for alcohol and literature. He was a fervent atheist, raised as a Christian by a mother whose Jewish heritage was not revealed to him until her suicide. Even for those who found Hitchens to be always on the wrong side of an argument, this wonderfully written memoir (published just before he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer) reveals a fascinating life in which the personal was political.

"Hitchens, who, in his earlier books, has expressed contempt for both God and Mother Teresa (although not in that order), is often described as a contrarian. In fact, in his book Letters to a Young Contrarian, he himself noted that he 'can appear insufferable and annoying,' albeit without intending to. This memoir, bracing, droll, and very revealing, gives him yet another description: storyteller. He writes with a voice you can hear clearly, warmed by smoke and whiskey, and draws readers into his story, which proves as personal as it is political. As with many memoirs, it is not the public moments that are so fascinating, though there are plenty of those. Hitchens takes readers with him to Havana and Prague, Afghanistan and Iraq; tests himself by being waterboarded (he was disappointed in his early capitulation); and hobnobs with politicians and poets. He almost gets himself beaten up by defacing a poster in Iraq with a Hitler mustache. But the most intriguing stories are the personal ones, both from his early days, at home and at boarding school, and from his later life, when he learns that his mother was Jewish, which, if only technically, makes him Jewish as well. This revelation leads Hitchens on a quest to learn the story of his family, many of whom died in the Holocaust. How this new identity squares with his oft-proclaimed atheism sheds a different light on the meaning of religious identity. (He struggles mightily with his political identity as well.) Few authors can rile as easily as Hitchens does, but even his detractors might find it difficult to put down a book so witty, so piercing, so spoiling for a fight. He makes you want to be as good a reader as he is a writer."Booklist (starred review)

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