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For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports Hardcover – May 17, 1993

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A political journalist of the first rank, Hitchens excoriates a Washington elite that evinces contempt for citizens and voters. He gauges the vast damage the CIA has done to American democracy, faults George Bush for his years of coddling Saddam Hussein's brutal regime and sizes up then-Governor Bill Clinton as a shameless "calculating opportunist." This roundup of articles and reviews from the Nation, Harper's , the Washington Post and elsewhere is a rogues' gallery featuring acid profiles of Richard Nixon, Ross Perot, Margaret Thatcher and former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry. Hitchens reserves his fiercest scorn for Henry Kissinger, who helped subvert Chilean democracy, betrayed the Kurds and colluded with Indonesia in its genocidal invasion of East Timor. In essays on Salman Rushdie, James Baldwin, John Updike and Graham Greene, Hitchens proves himself an adventurous prober of the Zeitgeist.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


“Displays the intelligence, invective and stubborn common sense Mr Hitchens brings to his commentaries, be they about the political scene in Washington, the soap-opera travail of the British Royal family or a novel by George Eliot.”—New York Times

“Hitchens rejoices without inhibition in the pleasure of hating and knows that satire is murder by other means ... . A pen like this is more lethal than most swords.”—The Observer

“One easily forgets just how good Christopher Hitchens is ... multilingual, well-travelled, hyper-educated, pissed-off, always funny, he has no equal in American journalism, and this book proves it.”—Voice Literary Supplement

“The fiercely independent-minded Hitchens provides reams of fuel for intellectual conflagration, couched in the luxurious excess of humour ... progressive journalism as it was meant to be.”—The Nation

“The test of this kind of book is for the reader to be able to open it anywhere and be drawn into the argument; it’s a test that Hitchens passes time and time again ... . He can be devilishly funny, but he is also capable of writing with acid seriousness.”—Independent on Sunday

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Verso; First Edition edition (May 17, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860914356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860914358
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #827,192 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More 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, The Atlantic Monthly and Slate, Hitchens also wrote for The Weekly Standard, The National Review, and The 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.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 11, 1999
Format: Hardcover
December 1995 - I have been sent to Australia's national capitol for 3 weeks to undertake testing of some new software for my employer. Any one who has been to Canberra knows that it is like any other purpose built national capitol - some stately buildings, a certain amount of intellectual grandeur about the place but otherwise a giant surburb infected by too much narcotic abuse.
It was in this environment I read this book and it saved my sanity (if not my life). I was loaned a paperback copy by my hostess's housemate after watching Hitchens perform brilliantly as part of a panel discussing Watergate which also included G Gordon Liddy - after sitting through a 5 minute tirade by Liddy, the interviewer (Australia's Kerry O'Brien) said "Christopher Hitchens" to which Hitchens responded as if just woken from sleep with the words "Err yes? Do you want me to plug my book?"
At that point I decided I must read (if not purchase) that book.
And the book - any writer who can work PG Wodehouse into a critique of the Gennifer Flowers phenomenon gets my stamp of approval.
Hitchens's critiques and analysis are taut, energetic and yet also built upon the relaxed auro of the supremely confident without (much) arrogance. And even if he does get a bit smug, it's still highly entertaining and more informative than any comparative writing.
Most impressive (on the "quality" side of things) is the breadth of subjects he covers - all the way from George Eliot (yeah, I know that one's on the blurb) to smokin' 'n' drinkin' via Nixon's mother.
And there are no half-arsed marsupial metaphors as in his piece on Robert Hughes in Vanity Fair.
Buy this book and become a better smart arse.
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66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Robert Lawrence on May 27, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Growing up in the 70s and 80s, I naturally learned a contempt for journalism as it is currently practiced. The great problem with journalists today, seems to me, is not their slavish conformity, their scandal-mongering, or even their sales-and-marketing obsession with the bottom line. It is their LACK OF IDEAS. They have little or no training in logic, history, aesthetics, or any of the other arts that are necessary if one is to continually shed light on the present.
Christopher Hitchens, by contrast, has all of these things. I bought this book three years ago and have read it through more times than I can remember. It makes intelligible sense of almost every major event that occurred during the late 80s and early 90s. To boot, it is witty and entertaining. If you feel suffocated by the evening news, NPR, the New York Times, and other demographically-tailored drivel, buy this book and everything else Hitchens has published.
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28 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "martinaluise7" on May 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I became familiar with Mr.Hitchens' work through his Vanity Fair articles where I became intrigued that a publication that devotes much of its space to the ongoings in the Hamptons and the biceps of Tom Cruise would publish such a pungent and brilliant observer of monarchy, faith, Congress and the lies of the rich and famous.
In the meantime he has become quite a household name and I'm afraid some of the exposure, the networking and the various stints on not so objective and erudite Pol talkshows have somewhat mildened his capacity to irritate with truth. But this volume and "Prepared For The Worst" are topnotch and it's a pleasure to follow him to wherever his curiosity takes him. It is a rare man who can skewer the follies of the policies towards Nicaragua, the smug "humor" of the darling of the neo-con set P.K.O'Rourke and relish in the joys of uncensored boozing, cigarette smoking as a tool for thinking and pleasure( or in the least nobody else's business) and the merits of any pleasure that is private and not available through an ad or state sponsored through the family values crowd. These essays read like the work of a strong idealist who has the brain power and nerve to back up his findings.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ken on January 10, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An outstanding book; while Hitchens is a powerful writer and superb analyst, his conclusions are often cynical and violently naive.

He still thinks that violence can solve problems. Unraveling the layers of secrecy lead him, too often to a few villains not to full analyses of villains.

No matter, reading him is educational, exciting, and pleasurable. His command of the language is delightful. At least, he is not afraid to be disagreeable; He give me hope that debate can actaully happen and that some people hide behind civility.
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