Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ $3.99 shipping
+ Free Shipping
Arguably Hardcover – September 1, 2011
|New from||Used from|
This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"Anyone who occasionally opens one of our more serious periodicals has learned that the byline of Christopher Hitchens is an opportunity to be delighted or maddened-possibly both-but in any case not to be missed....His range is extraordinary, both in breadth and altitude. He is as self-confident on the politics of Lebanon as on the ontology of the Harry Potter books....I still find Hitchens one of the most stimulating thinkers and entertaining we have, even when-perhaps especially when-he provokes."―Bill Keller, New York Times Book Review
"The essays in 'Arguably' remind us of other dimensions to this singular writer and thinker that are sometimes overshadowed by the range of his political commentary. Though there are plenty of essays on politics to be found here, the book also treats us to other arrows in Hitchens' proverbial quiver, including his bracing, exhilarating approach to important literary figures...Its value is clear and needs no justification. And since his diagnosis of esophageal cancer last year, opportunities to hear him, understandably, have been fewer. Which is another thing 'Arguably' inadvertently addresses - for in reading this collection of his thoughts, immersing yourself in the particular turns of phrase and associations of Hitchens' wit, you suddenly realize something else: You're hearing his voice again."―Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times
"Christopher Hitchens's selected essays are Arguably (Twelve) his finest to date."―Vanity Fair
"One reads him [Hitchens] despite his reputation as someone who wants to drink, argue, and tear the ornaments off the tree, because he is, first and last, a writer, an always exciting, often exacting, furious polemicist. This fact, the most salient thing about him, often gets neglected in the public jousting. Arguably, Hitchens's new collection, forcefully proves this point. Consisting of three kinds of writing - literary journalism, political commentary, and cultural complaint - Arguably offers a panoramic if somewhat jaundiced view of the last decade or so of cultural and political history."―The Boston Globe
"Opinions are to Christopher Hitchens what oil is to Saudi Arabia. This collection, featuring his liveliest, funniest and most infamous essays....There is a time for the balanced, even-handed and sober approach - but why bother with any of that when you could be reading someone as provocative and impish as Hitchens?"―The New York Post
About the Author
Christopher Hitchens, a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate, and The Atlantic, is the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Orwell. He is also the author of the international bestsellers god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and Hitch-22: A Memoir.
Top customer reviews
I pre-ordered this book months ago, but until today I didn't know which of his essays would be included. I'm absolutely thrilled by the final product. To begin with, it's massive - at nearly 800 pages, it's larger than "god Is Not Great" and "Hitch-22" combined. The essays are sorted into 6 sections, and I'll cover each of them in some detail below.
"All American" focuses on the history, policies, and distinguished figures of the United States. It appears to be sorted chronologically; beginning with essays on Jefferson and Franklin, continuing through subjects like John Brown and Lincoln, JFK, John Updike, and Gore Vidal, and then closing with essays on modern issues like capital punishment and atheism in the modern military.
"Eclectic Affinities" includes Hitchens' best essays on notable literary figures. There are about 30 essays here, covering everything from Karl Marx, to Graham Greene, to George Orwell, to JK Rowling.
"Amusements, Annoyances, and Disappointments" is relatively short, with only 8 essays. However, these are some of Hitch's most famous and controversial personal remarks, including the infamous "Why Women Aren't Funny" and his charming "New Commandments".
"Offshore Accounts" primarily deals with modern political conflicts. It includes his experience with waterboarding, his admiration for Kurdistan, and his encyclopedic knowledge of current politics. This is probably the most notable section of the book, and also one of the longest.
"Legacies of Totalitarianism" takes us back to earlier conflicts, focusing especially on the first half of the last century. The essays here are mostly based on specific people, and the legacies that endured long after they did.
"Words' Worth" covers Hitchens' essays on language and culture. The earlier sections focused on Hitch as a political essayist, but this section closes the book with Hitch as a charming raconteur. More than the other sections, it allows Hitch to be more personal and candid, and that allows his inimitable writing style and witty humor to take center stage.
Over the past several years, Hitchens has been famous primarily for his antitheism. But as powerful and important as that is, I think it tends to downplay just how broad his career has been. I actually consider this book a great companion piece to his memoirs. As you look over the comprehensive nature of the combined essays, you can't help but admire the life Hitchens has led. As he puts it, he "burned the candle at both ends, and it gave a lovely light." This book, almost as much as "Hitch-22", is evidence of that.
My one small disappointment is that the book focuses almost exclusively on essays written relatively recently. I'm guessing this has a lot to do with copyright entanglements, but I would like to have seen more of his older works. His recent essays are all easily available online, and I was hoping for a bit more from past archives. Having said that, I can also see the benefit of relying on the recent works, as they give a very fresh, updated look at the world. In fact, this book has instantly become my "go to" recommendation for people saying they want to be more involved in current events. It's long enough to be comprehensive, but the essay format allows it to be concise as well. And even though most of this material is available free online, it's definitely worth owning this archive of his most notable short works. I love the structure and layout of the essays, and the index is marvelous. It's a wonderful book for any fan of Christopher Hitchens, as well as anyone interested in politics, history, and culture.
A large book, to be dipped into when, as Durant said of Nietzsche, you need "a bracing wind across a courtyard after a long and stuffy service in Church". Here is Hitchens on the Kennedy's:
"A new volume by Ed Klein, portentously titled "The Kennedy Curse", revealed the brief marriage of John Kennedy Jr. to Carolyn Bessemer to have been a cauldron of low-level misery, infidelity and addiction": JFK: In Sickness and By Stealth, Times Literary Supplement 2003. . It's the "low-level" that twists the knife here.
The essay on JFK, a review of JFK: An Unfinished Life ("a title portentous and platitudinous at the same time") by Robert Dallek, is undoubtedly the standout star of Part 1 All American, which slightly bizarrely has Hitchens, an Oxbridge educated English privileged public schoolboy and former champagne socialist, writing on historical American figures such as Jefferson, Franklin and Lincoln.
Part 2 has Hitchens on more local ground writing on early and later 20th century English literary figures such as PG Wodehouse, Anthony Powell, Philip Larkin and Evelyn Waugh. Amusingly it's titled "Eclectic", presumably because the editor decided that the American reader might have little idea or care who those people were. The final review here is actually of the final Harry Potter book, where Hitchens, whilst generally kind and acknowledging that these books get young people to read, still skewers Rowling:
"The repeated tactic of deus ex machina has a deplorable effect on both plot and dialogue".
Part 3 contains perhaps the most controversial (bizarrely) of all the writings "Why women aren't funny", written for an unimaginative, publicity seeking editor of Vanity Fair. Still managing to quote an interesting Kipling poem this disappointing rushed hack piece feels authored by a less talented Hitchens ghostwriter from GQ magazine. Definitely not disappointing in this section is Hitchens on Prince Charles:
"A hereditary head of state, as Thomas Paine so crisply phrased it, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary physician. To this innate absurdity, Prince Charles manages to bring fatuities that are entirely his own".
Charles, Prince of Piffle. Slate, June 14, 2010.
Part 4 is Offshore Accounts. Disraeli said in Tancred "the East is a career" and Hitchens partly took this to heart, writing extensively on politics, Islamism and Orientalism in the Middle East. It is on religion that Hitchens has shown much of his intellectual rigor and bravery. The reader may find in his review of Orientalism and It's Discontents by Robert Irwin in The Atlantic, March 2007 a description of a certain key religious figure as "a sex-craved brigand whose preachments were either plagiarized or falsified".
This reader does not quite share the same fascination with this area of the world but one of the best essays in the book is here, a review of Edward Said's Orientalism, from the Atlantic, September 2003 - a book that was de rigor to be on your bookshelf when I was an MSc student in the late 1990s. Hitchens is quite fair to Said, although still slices him open with his accusation of membership of the "post-Foucault academy".
Part 5, Legacies of Totalitarianism, ups the intellectual and moral ante. It is worth remembering that Hitchens was once a committed socialist, as documented in his entertaining memoir Hitch 22. Heavy reviews here include Churchill, Hitler and Unnecessary War by Pat Buchanan - a book I have reviewed on Amazon - Human Smoke by Nicholson Baker, and Klemperer's I Will Bear Witness (Klemperer was a Jew married to an Aryan who survived the war. This is sobering stuff and a reminder of the madness that could be inflicted on the world again by extremism and total war. Hitchens' quote from Sebald on the aftermath of the fire bombings of Dresden by the 'good guys' says it all:
"In the altmarket in Dresden, where 6,865 corpses were burned on pyres in February 1945 by an SS detachment which had gained its experience in Treblinka". On the Natural History of Destruction by W.G. Sebald.