The A - Z of Christopher Hitchens
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:
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.
Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays - published in 2011 as:
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.
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.
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.
The provocative bestseller from Britain's foremost controversial thinker is now in paperback: 'If Hitchens didn't exist, we wouldn't be able to invent him.' Ian McEwan
A beautifully written introduction to the making, and message, of a book that was central to the foundation of the United States - the world's most powerful republic: 'Christopher Hitchens... at his characteristically incisive best.' (The Times)
Hitchens presents a George Orwell fit for the 21st century.-Boston Globe
Recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, feted by politicians, the Church and the world's media, Mother Teresa of Calcutta appears to be on the fast track to sainthood. But what makes Mother Teresa so divine?
'A good liar must have a good memory: Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.' Christopher Hitchens
In this vitriolic polemic, Christopher Hitchens takes on the myth surrounding one of the most divisive political figures in American political history: Bill Clinton.
A witty, wise, biting, and completely individual meditation on what it means to think, live, and be to the contrary.
Christopher Hitchens' iconclastic collection is the perfect companion to US-UK relations by the greatest Anglo-American writer of his generation.
The opening of the Acropolis Museum in Athens in spring 2008 provides the opportunity to re-state the case for the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens. This title makes a contribution to ensuring that the Marbles return to their place of origin.
Features three sections: 'Love', 'Poverty', and 'War'. 'Love' celebrates the work of Joyce, Proust and Borges. 'Poverty' includes a series of assessments of Michael Moore and the cult of the Kennedys. This book's final section, 'War', contains reportage from North Korea, Pakistan and Iraq.
'I suppose that, if this collection has a point, it is the desire of one individual to see the idea of confrontation kept alive' Christopher Hitchens, Introduction
A provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages selected by bestselling author Christopher Hitchens