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Author: Christopher Hitchens Narrator: Simon Prebble Publisher: Twelve Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2011 ISBN: 9781611139075
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"All first-rate criticism first defines what we are confronting," the late, great jazz critic Whitney Balliett once wrote. By that measure, the essays of Christopher Hitchens are in the first tier. For nearly four decades, Hitchens has been telling us, in pitch-perfect prose, what we confront when we grapple with first principles, the principles of reason and tolerance and skepticism that define and inform the foundations of our civilization-principles that, to endure, must be defended anew by every generation.

"A short list of the greatest living conversationalists in English," said The Economist, "would probably have to include Christopher Hitchens, Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor, and Sir Tom Stoppard. Great brilliance, fantastic powers of recall, and quick wit are clearly valuable in sustaining conversation at these cosmic levels. Charm may be helpful, too." Hitchens-who staunchly declines all offers of knighthood-hereby invites you to take a seat at a democratic conversation, to be engaged, and to be reasoned with. His knowledge is formidable, an encyclopedic treasure, and yet one has the feeling, reading him, of hearing a person thinking out loud, following the inexorable logic of his thought, wherever it might lead, unafraid to expose fraudulence, denounce injustice, and excoriate hypocrisy. Legions of readers, admirers and detractors alike, have learned to read Hitchens with something approaching awe at his felicity of language, the oxygen in every sentence, the enviable wit and his readiness, even eagerness, to fight a foe or mount the ramparts.

Here, he supplies fresh perceptions of such figures as varied as Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Rebecca West, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard, and Philip Larkin are matched in brilliance by his pungent discussions and intrepid observations, gathered from a lifetime of traveling and reporting from such destinations as Iran, China, and Pakistan.

Hitchens' directness, elegance, lightly carried erudition, critical and psychological insight, humor, and sympathy-applied as they are here to a dazzling variety of subjects, all set a standard for the essayist that has rarely been matched in our time. What emerges from this indispensable volume is an intellectual self-portrait of a writer with an exemplary steadiness of purpose and a love affair with the delights and seductions of the English language, a man anchored in a profound and humane vision of the human longing for reason and justice.

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Quotes & Awards

  • As contemptuous, digressive, righteous, and riotously funny as the rest of the author's incessant output, this memoir is an effective coming-of-age story, regardless of what one may think of the resulting adult . . . Hitchens paints a credible and even affecting self-portrait. The New Yorker
  • In this frank, often wickedly funny account, Hitchens traces his evolution as a fiercely independent thinker and enemy of people who are convinced of their absolute certainty ... Revealing and riveting. Kirkus Review
  • The most erudite and astute political and social commentator of this era has written a memoir that not only give the reader a view of the man behind the words but also a perceptive look at society over the past decades. Hitchens fascinates with the life he has lived and observed and, as always, relates his story with precision and consideration. Bill Cusamano, Nicola's Books
  • Hitch is as Hitch does, and he's not apologizing to anyone. Drew Toal, Time Out New York
  • [Hitchens] indulges in both an endearing critical self-examination and an action-packed adventure story. The New Haven Advocate
  • Christopher Hitchens may long to be a cogent man of reason, and he can certainly be a pitiless adversary. But he knows there are two sides to any decent match, and it's touching, in HITCH-22, to see how often he'll race to the other side of the court to return his own serve. Which may explain why, though he tries to be difficult, he's so hard to dislike. The New York Times Book Review
  • At its heart, Hitch-22 is a celebration of literature and a denunciation of idleness. "Hitchens is inarguably a man of action: He pursues history as it happens . . . eloquent, enlightening, and entertaining. Gregg LaGambina, The Onion's AV Club
  • One of the most engaging, exciting books I've read in years . . . The writing is lovely - introduction aside, which threatens early onset pretentia - Hitchens' cold-eyed evaluation of his younger self feels honest. To be sure, "Hitch 22'' is often a chronicle of Hitchens' best efforts. He teaches us that "cheap booze is false economy'' and reveals a youth engaged in boarding school homosexuality. But thankfully, Hitchens' efforts, friends, and close calls are rendered wonderfully in this strange book. Ultimately, "Hitch 22'' is about cultivating and maintaining one's intellectual integrity. As Hitchens writes, "[I]t is always how people think that counts for much more than what they think.''. . . But memoir generates pleasure through voice and sensibility, not through comprehensiveness. Nobody ever said self-awareness must lead to self-revelation, and even if you don't like what Hitchens thinks, it's easy to admire how he thinks. Michael Washbum, The Boston Globe
  • When the colorful, prolific journalist shares a tender memory, he quickly converts it into a larger observation about politics, always for him the most crucial sphere of moral and intellectual life. The New York Times Book Review
  • Hitchens offers up surprising revelations about the methods behind his madness as one of the world's most beloved and often hated scribes . . . bold and brassy Hitchens characteristically treats himself as the subject he knows best. The Philadelphia City Paper
  • Reading Hitch-22, his fascinating memoir of a career in combat journalism (both literal and figurative), one gets a sense that those looking for that tragic moment when a reliable man of the left became a fellow traveler of the right are asking the wrong question. On the big political issues that have long animated him-Middle Eastern politics, the dangers of religious messianism-his views have been surprisingly constant. Michael C. Moynihan, Reason Magazine
  • [H]e has so many great quotes and quotables . . . that one cannot read his latest masterpiece for having to stop, find a pencil and page stickers in order to underline and signify his many remarks, each greater than the other. Liz Smith,
  • Few writers can match his cerebral pyrotechnics. Fewer still can emulate his punch as an intellectual character assassin. It is hard not to admire the sheer virtuosity of his prose ... With Hitchens one simply goes along for the ride. The destination hardly matters. Ed Luce, The Financial Times
  • [D]electable, sassy fun . . . this book is intelligent and humane . . . Hitch-22 reminded me why I love the author of The Missionary Position, his fervent slapping of Mother Teresa, and his book about the war crimes of Henry Kissinger. Hitchens takes no prisoners, not even himself. Mark Oppenheimer, The New Haven Review
  • After reading Hitch-22, the only thing you can be sure of is that this flawed knight will not breathe contentedly unless he has a dragon to slay. Ariel Gonzales, The Miami Herald
  • ... a fat and juicy memoir of a fat and juicy life. Diana McLellan, The Washington Post
  • ... a complex portrait of a public intellectual. Alexandra Alter, The Wall Street Journal
  • [An] extraordinary memoir by a truly astonishing figure of our literary age . . . This is among the most awaited books of the season, and while it confounds, misleads, exasperates and, on occasion, even bores, it also entertains to an almost shocking degree and illuminates almost as much. I laughed out loud - raucously and continuously - reading this book. Jeff Simon, Buffalo News
  • Hitch-22 is among the loveliest paeans to the dearness of one's friends . . . I've ever read. The business and pleasure sides of Mr. Hitchens's personality can make him seem, whether you agree with him or not, among the most purely alive people on the planet. Dwight Garner, The New York Times
  • If you find yourself in the midst of Christopher Hitchens's memoir and he hasn't said something to anger, inspire, or at least annoy you, wait a few pages. More the account of an intellectual and political odyssey than a conventional autobiography, HITCH-22 chronicles the critic-journalist-activist's often storm-tossed journey across the ideological spectrum. What makes it a most rewarding trip is that he's a traveling companion with a vigorous mind and a gift for sparkling prose.
  • Whether he's dodging bullets in Sarajevo, dissing Bill Clinton, (with whom he says he shared a girlfriend at Oxford) or explaining his switch from leftist to Iraq war supporter, this foreign correspondent, pundit, and bon vivant makes for an enlightening companion. Give HITCH-22 an 11 out of 10 for smarts, then double it for entertainment value. Kyle Smith, People Magazine
  • a fascinating, absorbing book: the rare contemporary memoir that is the record of a life of true accomplishment and authentic adventure . . . Hitchens is bravely, or at least defiantly, candid about qualities his detractors might use to undermine or perhaps explain his love of war and his rabid hatred for religious people Lee Seigel, The New York Observer
  • Hitchens expresses ambivalence about the term "public intellectual" but, as "Hitch-22" demonstrates, it suits him. The disputatious bon vivant is alive on the page, behind the speaker's podium and in "unglamorous houses on off-peak cable TV. The Sunday Oregonian
  • Christopher Hitchens' memoir has the same nerve and frankness that first made me admire him . . . His perspective on becoming an American citizen is refreshing at a time when it's easy to become jaded about our role in the world.—Mark Rahner, The Seattle Times
  • With the possible exception of Tom Wolfe and Maureen Dowd's, Christopher Hitchens' marvelous byline is the most archly kinetic in current-day American letters. Every article, review and essay has the romantic whiff of a durable vintage. You might disagree with him. You might question his motives. But not for a second will you ever be bored . . . goes on to call the memoir cunning, illuminating . . . Being able to shape-change, shed skins, sit on the hillside overlooking suburbia like a coyote, Hitchens represents a dying breed of public intellectual whose voice matters precisely because it can't be easily pigeonholed or ignored. Douglas Brinkley, The Los Angeles Times
  • “I still find Hitchens one of the most stimulating thinkers and entertaining writers we have, even when—perhaps especially when—he provokes.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “One reads Hitchens despite his reputation as someone who wants to drink, argue, and tear the ornaments off the tree, because he is, first and last, a writer, an always exciting, often exacting, furious polemicist. This fact, the most salient thing about him, often gets neglected in the public jousting. Arguably, Hitchens’ new collection, forcefully proves this point. Consisting of three kinds of writing—literary journalism, political commentary, and cultural complaint—Arguably offers a panoramic if somewhat jaundiced view of the last decade or so of cultural and political history.”

    Boston Globe

  • “I can’t think of anyone who brings to such a diverse range of subjects Hitchens’ mobilizing wit, intelligence, and passion…One reason I shall keep Arguably by my side is Hitchens’ vigilant love of the English language…He is, in the parlance of his old party, our maximum journalist.”

    Telegraph (London)

  • “One great pleasure provided by this remarkable book is to read what he says of many favorite and unexpected authors. Literary criticism still retains plenty of grip when so very well written, so funny and fluent, so loving and so pungent.”

    Independent (London)

  • “Opinions are to Christopher Hitchens what oil is to Saudi Arabia. This collection features his liveliest, funniest, and most infamous essays…There is a time for the balanced, even-handed, and sober approach—but why bother with any of that when you could be reading someone as provocative and impish as Hitchens?”

    New York Post

  • “Christopher Hitchens’ selected essays are Arguably his finest to date.”

    Vanity Fair

  • A New York Times bestseller
  • A 2011 New York Times Top 10 Book
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2011 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book
  • A Kirkus Reviews “New and Notable Title”, September 2011
  • A 2011 ALA Notable Book
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • One of the 2011 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mejix | 2/14/2014

    " It was much better than I expected. I found Hitchens to be a more likeable voice than I remembered. The breadth of his interests is impressive. His literary essays are brilliant. I wasn't terribly interested in his more political work, even though I do agree with him on many things. I'm not sure his insights are particularly unique. What I appreciated was his combative, opinionated and humane voice. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Michaela | 2/6/2014

    " He certainly has a broad scope of knowledge regarding history. I probably shouldn't have started with his essay on why women are humorless. I did enjoy his essay on why the U.S. has become a banana republic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Christine | 2/4/2014

    " This is a big read and I have not finished it yet. In truth it is a book for dipping into rather than reading cover to cover. Having said that I am finding it captivating, challenging and witty. Will say more when I have it finished which, given its size, may be some time. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Richard | 2/2/2014

    " sad to see him go, notwithstanding his ideas about the Iraq war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauri | 2/1/2014

    " Fantastic, hilarious, wonderfully written collection of essays. I cannot recommend this anthology highly enough. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tai | 1/30/2014

    " a stunning compilation of wit and dialectic from 'arguably' the best writer of the age. R.I.P Hitch "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lynn | 1/15/2014

    " Whether you like Hitchens or not, his essays are well thought out, very opinionated and bring up ideas that are not always obvious. I haven't finished all his essays, yet, but I've read over half of them. Some are funny (The New Commandments), some are venemous(JFK: In Sickness and by Stealth), some are frustrating (Why Women Aren't Funny) and all are "witty" to the point that I needed a dictionary by my side. I got the book from the library but now I'm going to buy it for my Nook so I can add all the comments are couldn't write down. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Daniel | 1/13/2014

    " A mind like no other. We as a society are worse off without him. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kimba | 1/13/2014

    " Haven't read all of them but will continue to read the essays each time. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dave | 1/9/2014

    " Typical Hitchens: erudite, extremely well written, extremely arrogant. If you like him, you'll love this book; if not then why bother? Best in small doses. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andreas | 12/28/2013

    " Great book from a great writer. Too many people know Hitchens through his television appearances, but he is also a renowned literary critic and teacher. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Eivind | 12/9/2013

    " I wouldn't have minded if they'd skipped that huge section of book reviews. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chayon | 11/22/2013

    " Encompasses a lot of topics...from American History to the Oriental myths....but more than that, its well researched and deftly written :) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 11/11/2013

    " Finished in a week. For those that say that Christopher Hitchens became a conservative, that he wrote. His latest "instant classic" essays comprised in a collection with broad scope and erudition that could only come together in a book with the name "Hitchens" on it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 8/23/2013

    " Hard reading in parts unless you have a particularly strong literary bent. That said, many good and interesting essays. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeff | 5/15/2013

    " As usual, this man is a master of the language and even if you don't agree with him you find yourself smiling at how well he writes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ken | 3/31/2013

    " Love Hitchens but found these essays too wordy and not clear, did not finish it, he is much better talking on religion "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tim | 9/16/2012

    " Possibly a nostalgic 4 star, but that's the least hitch deserves I guess "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peregrina651 | 7/13/2012

    " I might not always agree with his opinions but I certainly can't deny his erudition. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Serge | 10/14/2011

    " Gorgeous prose, breathtaking coverage, thought-provoking arguments. What more could you possibly ask of an essay collection ? "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Frank | 10/13/2011

    " Even if you don't like Hitch, you cannot deny the man has opinions and can back them up better than most. This is a collection of recent essays and book reviews. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carey | 10/12/2011

    " Erudite, interesting, controversial and brilliantly written. Fantastic collection. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mike | 10/8/2011

    " Reading in tandem with CD, narrated by Simon Prebble. It slows me down, but that's a desirable thing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kevin | 9/9/2011

    " Unbelievably good - and a lesson in what an independent voice sounds like. "

About the Author

Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) was the author of Letters to a Young Contrarian and the bestseller No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family. A regular contributor to Vanity Fair, Atlantic Monthly, and Slate, he also wrote for the Weekly Standard, National Review, and Independent and appeared on The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Chris Matthew’s Show, Real Time with Bill Maher, and C-SPAN’s Washington Journal. He was named one of the world’s “Top 100 Public Intellectuals” by Foreign Policy and Britain’s Prospect.

About the Narrator

Simon Prebble, a British-born performer, is a stage and television actor and veteran narrator of some three hundred audiobooks. As one of AudioFile’s Golden Voices, he has received thirty-seven Earphones Awards and won the prestigious Audie in 2010. He lives in New York.