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Mortality [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Christopher Hitchens (Author), Simon Prebble (Narrator)
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (487 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

During the US book tour for his memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens awoke in his New York hotel room to excruciating pain in his chest. As he would later write in the first of a series of pieces for Vanity Fair, he was being deported 'from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.' Over the next year he underwent the brutal gamut of modern cancer treatment, enduring catastrophic levels of suffering and eventually losing the faculty of speech. Mortality comprises the most meditative piece of writing Hitchens ever produced; it is at once an unsparingly honest account of the ravages of his disease, an examination of cancer etiquette, and the coda to a lifetime of fierce debate and peerless prose. In this deeply moving and personal account of illness, Hitchens confronts his own death - and he remains combative, eloquent and dignified to the very last.
©2012 Christopher Hitchens; (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: AudioGO Ltd
  • Release Date: September 1, 2012
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0094OQZD4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (487 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
323 of 337 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A no-holds-barred discussion of dying August 25, 2012
Christopher Hitchens never shied away from telling the truth - at least the truth as he saw it - and when he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer in June, 2010, he started "living dyingly," writing about his experiences with the illness. The stoicism with which he wrote, and the lucidity in the face of immanent death ("there is no stage 5"), go very well with the way Hitchens faced the rest of his life. Having only recently completed a memoir, Hitch 22, and on his book tour when he had symptoms which led to his diagnosis, Hitchens realized that he needed to tell the story of this cancer as he had just told the story of his life.

If you're familiar with Hitchens' writings, you'll certainly recognize the trenchant approach here to becoming a resident of "tumortown." In this brief book, composed of essays he wrote for Vanity Fair, Hitchens explains what it feels like to be dying, yet doesn't feel sorry for himself or for his lifestyle that may have contributed to his cancer. (His father died of the same cancer as well, so part may be genetic.)

You'll read this book in an hour or two, but you'll also want to come back to it from time to time. While the chapters are composed - these are articles, not journal entries - there is a spontaneity throughout them, as his condition worsens, and as hope seems to recede.

Hitchens again shows with his words that cut like scalpels that he was one of the finest voices of his generation, and we're not likely to see another like him for a very long time.
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203 of 217 people found the following review helpful
It came as no surprise that one of the greatest and most remarkable troublemakers and polemicists Britain has ever produced didn't leave without having a few important things to say. The late great Christopher Hitchens used the pages of Vanity Fair during his battle against a tumor in his esophagus to partly apply the maxim of Dylan Thomas to "rage, rage against the dying of the light". That said you sense throughout the pages of "Mortality", a book collecting those special essays, that Hitchens instinctively felt that this was one argument he wasn't going to win. As such his tangle with death is a level headed but poignant dalliance with the slow degradation of a body which graphically charts the "wager" with chemotherapy taking "your taste buds, your ability to concentrate, your ability to digest and the hair on your head". He is painfully honest and reflective throughout about his predicament not least the "gnawing sense of waste" and the reality of becoming an early "finalist in the race of life". Yet it wouldn't be Hitchens if the opportunity for settling some old scores was not taken and in particular his restatement of his vociferous views on atheism despite the fact that September 20th 2010 was designated by one religious website as "Everyone pray for Hitchens day".

Others were less charitable for in some quarters at the onset of Hitchens illness produced a vicious form of schadenfreude not least amongst his many enemies in the Christian right where his strong opinions on religion had provoked and outraged those not prepared to countenance any debate. He quotes an opinion from an religious blog that viewed his throat cancer as "Gods revenge for him using his voice to blaspheme him".
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221 of 239 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Atheist Transcendent, the final chapter to Hitch-22 August 25, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Other reviewers have already made comment on this book's overall structure. This is a fine reprinting of Hitch's award-winning essays as he approached his final hour, so there is no new information in most of the book. In his inimitable way, he draws you in not only with his fine prose, but his humanity. You can't help but feel pathos in this work. And where the emotion ends, he lines up the last words and wisdom of so many other literary figures as evidence for his case on "dying livingly."

What makes this book worthy to add to your bookshelf is the final chapter, the unpublished scribblings of Hitchens which give us a window not only into his final thoughts, but perhaps how the master crafted his essays...first as an idea, then a polished quip or two. For me, these classic one-liners and Hitch-slaps are worth the price of the book. The final tribute, by his wife Carol, gives us more insight into the private man than he allowed himself in his memoir, Hitch-22. If there is one error, it was made by Hitchens himself, who lamented that he might not live to write the obituaries of his villains--Kissinger and Pope Benedict. In fact, he had already done so in his canon of work, from "The Trial of Henry Kissinger" to "god is Not Great." In these works, he managed to in fact, have the final word on Kissinger, Catholicism, and many other sacred cows that are "dead enough"--as he might have quipped. He now joins the pantheon--pardon the word--of past great critics, from Twain to Mencken. For the literate, he will always live on. Overall, A moving, swift read that will linger in your mind long after the last page.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good; so short I can't believe the kindle price October 6, 2012
By Lisa
This book is very, very good - as with most of the author's work. However, it's also the about the length of a Vanity Fair article yet look at the (kindle) price! While I don't begrudge the author the length or his family the royalties I do want to take the publishers to task (and hope Amazon will actually print this review): You had the last work of a truly great man and you decided to rip off his loyal readers! Shame on you. This book is the second super short kindle book I've downloaded in the past month (at full price) and I'm done. I will no longer trust that a kindle version is worth buying until I check the length and reviews.

Honestly, I feel bad docking the author's review on this...he wrote a great article. But I wish another reviewer had done the same and had pointed out the length (they may have more recently; I checked the reviews shortly after the book came out and didn't recheck before buying). I would not have bought the book had I noted the length - my mistake but I just didn't think a major publisher would do such a thing. I won't do it again.

To anyone wanting to read Mortality - it's touching and brilliant and deeply honest. A great read. But don't get the kindle edition!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice read. Short
Very nice read. Short, simple, to the point, though sad. Not quite the "morality" story I expected, but defiantly a good and worth while one to read.
Published 1 day ago by Donald Zarate
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
I like him.
Published 2 days ago by johoka
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitchens last words
As with all of Hitchens' work this is a very compelling honest book. If you are a Hitch fan, this is a must read.
Published 7 days ago by Elden Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars greatness
I laughed, cried, and had a scotch for hitch
Published 8 days ago by nosam
5.0 out of 5 stars Hitichins is a Master, in this book he writes ...
Hitichins is a Master, in this book he writes with sensitivity and humbled truth but never as a victim. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Susan Lucas
5.0 out of 5 stars Must for anyone with cancer
Christopher clearly describes what it is like to submit to the demands of a terminal cancer. Sometimes bordering on the depressing actions, often working on the coping personal... Read more
Published 17 days ago by L. R. Barker
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Heartbreakingly wonderful
Published 17 days ago by joseph brandel
5.0 out of 5 stars great Patrice O'neal once said
This book made me laugh hysterically about being ill, as I'm sure Christopher Hitchens intended. By the end I was in tears, from laughing, to the final chapter that was just made... Read more
Published 18 days ago by Barbara Gordon
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greats
Hitchens was one of the greatest minds of our age and his works continue to inspire. Morality is relentless display of his unwavering favor of intellect over faith. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Adam W.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Hitchens Book, IMO
I generally found Hitchens to be too fanatical when he spoke. However, his books are decent and this one is downright good. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
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