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Hitch-22: A Memoir Hardcover – June 2, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Bookmarks Magazine

Christopher Hitchens stands alone among 20th- and 21st-century pundits for his enthusiastic enmity and political flip-flopping, but while he makes no apologies for his beliefs, he does acknowledge their intrinsic contradictions. Critics praised Hitchens's frankness in sharing the details of his mother's suicide and of his breezy bisexuality, but they simultaneously balked at his decision to omit significant people and events (i.e., his wives, his children, and his role in Bill Clinton's impeachment). They also objected to his relentless name-dropping and some overly dense prose, and a few were appalled that Hitchens would continue to insist that Saddam Hussein did indeed possess WMDs. Despite these complaints, Hitch-22 is a sharp, rebellious, and sometimes bawdy account of the making of a modern mastermind.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* 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 (2001), 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. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Twelve; 1st edition (June 2, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446540331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446540339
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (239 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,310 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

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

415 of 457 people found the following review helpful By A Central Illinoisian in Chicago VINE VOICE on April 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Hitch 22" is a memoir, not an autobiography, by Christopher Hitchens, who seems to go out of his way to ensure that everyone in the world has at least one compelling reason to disagree with him. Those well familiar with Hitchens will know what I'm talking about, but for those that only know him from one of his guises, a little perspective.

Hitchens works as a book reviewer for "The Atlantic", a political and culture commentator for both "Slate" and "Vanity Fair", a "talking head" on too many news shows to mention, a "semi-professional atheist" ('God is not Great'), an all around activist and speaker for the causes he deems important, and I'm sure a half dozen other roles I'm not aware of.

I defy anyone to agree with every single one of the comments below:

- Margaret Thatcher is kind of sexy
- Communism is good
- Pre-Glasnost Russia was bad
- Gore Vidal is full of it
- God does not exist
- Henry Kissigner is best viewed as a Mass Murderer
- George H.W. Bush knew that Iraq would attack Kuwait well beforehand
- The USA was justified in attacking both Iraq and Afghanistan post 9-11
- Bertie and Wooster are hilarious
- Mother Teresa was a sadist
- The USA is a great country
- British Boarding Schools are twisted

Well, we can probably all agree on the last one, but see what I mean? He does indeed "contain volumes", and his views have shifted over time - to the right in many cases, as he admits.

His memoir does not "explain" who Hitchens is, nor does he intend to. What he succeeds in doing admirably and engagingly is to give his perspectives on the people he's known, and the experiences he's had, not necessarily in chronological order.
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161 of 189 people found the following review helpful By CGScammell TOP 1000 REVIEWER on March 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's really quite fascinating that Christopher Hitchens had as normal a life as he had considering all the events he experienced early in life. He starts his memoir with the suicide-homicide of his mother and her lover in the first chapter, then continues on with his commander dad. His parents alone were quite a contrasting couple that only stayed together because divorce caried such a stigma. Then he experienced boarding schools where bullying was quite common and where boys experimented with their sexuality.

His gift of the English language and the accompanying wit were established early on. Hitchen writes as he speaks, with passion and drama that may turn some people, especially those with a weak understanding of advanced English grammar, off. His life unfolds as the post-war wars of England in the 1950s and 1960s, giving this memoir a good example of a personal history of the times.

What struck me is the style of his writing. He writes from a deeply psychological perspective, as if everyone or everything around him is not quite in his senses. He maintains a certain distance, an aloofness, from all the events, but perhaps that is from the jobs he has held over the years as fighter for oppressed African states. Other parts, like chapter "Chris or Christopher" (pages 93-109) read like a political thriller in his often colorful and eyebrow-raising verbiage. He didn't like Bill Clinton ("the habitual and professional liar") even in his Oxford days and he certainly had no respect for American politicians during the Vietnam war.

It really should come as no surprise that he is an atheist, a left-leaner (International Socialist as he calls himself) after the life he's had; his stories alone carry the explanation. But I don't blame him.
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80 of 93 people found the following review helpful By G.I Gurdjieff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Decidedly an interesting read, though I am still wondering how I managed to get through this book in a single (and very long) evening.
Described as a memoir, this book covers a lot of territory. Journalist/writer Hitchens details his childhood, family, life in English boarding school, college years at Oxford, dalliances with socialism, political and religious views(though an affirmed atheist), career as a war correspondent and author, and encounters with the famous and infamous. Along the way, he diverges into his parents indifferent marriage, his mother's suicide, and the discovery of his mother's jewish lineage years after her death.
While I thought the book in its entirety was interesting, some sections appealed to me more than others. Hitchens had an early encounter with Bill Clinton and was convinced that Clinton was possibly an operative reporting on american students anti-war activities to the CIA while at Oxford. He also claimed that he was probably present when Clinton didn't 'inhale' marijuana. Another section delved into researching his jewish heritage. And then there was his take on the Iraq War. The book was loaded with observations and insites that were interesting and at times deadly serious. Whether I agreed with him or not, he presented interesting points of view that reflected his varied life experiences.
Initially, my impression of Hitchen's writing style seemed to be more essayist than memoirist. However, it quickly became apparent that this was his story regardless of references to history, literature, and momentary divergences (such as the purpose and usage of the acronym WASP). While his text might at times seem elevated to the average reader, it took little time for me to get used to it. Often quite humorous, he managed to keep my attention.
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