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The A - Z of Christopher Hitchens

Posted on 19th January 2016 by Sally Campbell
As part of our new author profile series, here is an introduction to Christopher Hitchens and his writing.

Christopher Hitchens was a left-wing journalist who, notably, wrote for The Nation and New Statesman; he was also an atheist, a polemicist and a brilliant orator with an astute mind and a rifleman’s eye when it came to debate.

He had Wodehousian dry wit, an Orwellian devotion to the left and to exposing abuses of power, and a cool, effortless manner, when he argued, one that could suddenly snap shut like a bear-trap in a style that was entirely his own.

Hitchens published numerous books, wrote hundreds of articles and made countless television appearances where “he held forth in a sonorous, plummily accented voice that seemed at odds with his dishevelled appearance.”(1)

He was fervent in his many, often vocal, arguments against all forms of religion: “few writers have ever allied themselves to doubt with as much vehement certainty” (2). His many books on the subject include the bestselling title: God is Not Great

A controversial and forceful character, Hitchens certainly divided opinion, but he always entertained: as, surely, one of the most eloquent and combative atheists to grace the page and screen, one whose masterful arguments (if not all of his opinions) are much missed.

There is a wealth of Hitchens material out there for you to choose from, here is a chronological bibliography with five key titles highlighted:


Bibliography:

Cyprus

The Parthenon Marbles: The Case For Reunifictaion

Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports

Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship

For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports

No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton

Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere



The Trial of Henry Kissinger

Serving as a passionate moral, political and legal outcry, this book lays out all its evidence in a prosecutorial fashion, much like in a real trial. It is a searing indictment of the former US secretary of state who, Hitchens believed, should be prosecuted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. He accuses the American public of turning a blind eye and presses for Kissinger’s arrest; Hitchens at his polemical best.

Letters to a Young Contrarian

Orwell's Victory/Why Orwell Matters

Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays - published in 2011 as:

Arguably
A perfect introduction to Hitchens, one of the defining voices of the last 30 years, and famous for its numerous references to George Orwell, this book collects previously published essays by Hitchens on politics and culture. Packed with typical wit and incendiary comment, it was named by the New York Times as one of the 10 best books of  2011.

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America

Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man": A Biography


God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything

Understandably, this book caused a storm on publication as it argues that organised religion is violent and intolerant by its very nature. The book mixes anecdotal evidence with critical interrogation of religious texts, to argue religions are all hypocritical, contradictory and dangerous. It was criticised for being pretentious and inflammatory, but lauded in other spheres for its cutting analysis.

The New York Times wrote: “Hitchens has outfoxed the Hitchens watchers by writing a serious and deeply felt book, totally consistent with his beliefs of a lifetime. And God should be flattered: unlike most of those clamouring for his attention, Hitchens treats him like an adult.” (3)

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer (editor)


Hitch-22 Some Confessions and Contradictions: A Memoir 
This book charts the writers, thinkers and politicians Hitchens befriended and/or fought: more an “intellectual history rather than [a story of] emotional catharsis” (4) That said, there is plenty of affection and admiration for literary and political greats such as Susan Sontag and Salman Rushdie, as well as tales of friendship and hilarity.

Mortality

The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice


And Yet... Essays.
A brilliant posthumous collection to remind us all – yes, HItchens may have held some questionable beliefs when it came to women (I try to say that lightly), he drank and smoked too much, but he was whip-smart, hilarious and had the audacity to say what others daren’t, which made him a fantastic social commentator and a true old-fashioned journalist.
 

 

Footnotes:

(1) http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/16/arts/christopher-hitchens-is-dead-at-62-obituary.html?_r=0

(2)    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/dec/28/christopher-hitchens-and-yet-review-essays

(3)     http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/13/books/review/Kinsley-t.html

(4)    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/may/29/hitch-22-christopher-hitchens-review

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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