Christopher Hitchens

What should I read of his?

I am really only familiar with his advocacy of the Iraq war, so have generally steered clear. However, people whose taste and opinions I tend to rate seem to like him.

So I ask again, what should I read of his to get a sense of his greatness?

God is not great 

and watch him on YouTube. He was amazing in person 

“what can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence”

if only rof’s brexters had paid a bit more attention to this rather than eagerly lapping up their fantasies and demanding evidence to disprove...

I’ve always steered clear of Hitch. As a very clever but insecure person, I never really like to read what extremely clever people have to say, because their being cleverer than me annoys me. Like the OP, trusted taste-makers assure me he’s brilliant and I’m sure that’s true.

Don't worry Laz.  You're not particularly clever.  You just think you are.  Most people are cleverer than you.

Truly clever people know they can never know everything so they don't feel threatened or insecure by other intelligent people.  On the contrary they're glad to meet people from whom they can learn new things.

Your insecurity arises because the myth of your peculiar intelligence is exposed as just that, a myth, when you meet or read someone truly clever.  And since that myth is the core of your identity it makes you feel threatened at the core of your being.

Don't worry m7.  There's a bit of Dunning-Kruger in all of us.

Read “Arguably”. That’ll give you the best sense of Hitch. 

Dux is in the loop.  He knows that come the glorious Brexit future intellectuals will be killed.

Supes is getting into gateway alt- right stuff now? Well I never.

they'll all have topped themselves already, more like

Other than greatness, he's worth reading because he is very funny. His essays on Conrad Black, or on writers' alcoholism are knocking around the Internet. I like his lit crit in 'Unacknowledged Legislation'.

The idea he was in any sense 'alt right' is mental.  He was fundamentally left wing. He just had a problem with religion and grew to have a massive problem with Islam particularly after 9/11.  He was not minded to filter his views or his words.   

I can't say I am a massive fan but as Linda says he is definitely worth a look on you tube. Some of the interviews are really funny. Some of them are probably hate speech in our mental brave new world tho... Don't let any of your more woke friends catch you watching...

 

The guy is so far to the right that he encircles round, to end up even

more woke than Supes in wokeness

He was a communist in his youth, but after visiting Russia ,ended up recanting, and to the right of Thatcher

Supes could learn from him

Hotnow thinks everyone is alt right, especially me 

I am concerned about how close he is viewed to the likes of Harris and Peterson and am wary of his islamophobia, but I feel that I should read him.

Have bought his most recent posthumous collection of essays.

I am myself a lifelong atheist, but couldn't imagine how much poorer we would all be if all the religious art, music and architecture were never to have existed. Religion plays a huge role in the world, the vast majority of it positive, so the real heavy atheism puts me off.

Ha ha are we going to watch Supes getting redpilled in real time? 

*opens popcorn*

It's funny that you think I have only ever read things that I agree with

I know you've read Wangs views on close out netting and got a justice boner from righting them wrongs.. as for the rest of it.. I'm not so convinced.

CH was very far from right wing, the only thing he had in common with the right was islamophobia, but he was almost as much against Christianity.   His brother is the right winger.

I think he aspired to be a modern day Orwell (who ironically, for different reasons, was also a left winger adopted by the right for certain purposes)

In this vitriolic polemic, Christopher Hitchens takes on the myth surrounding the most divisive political figures in American political history: Bill Clinton and Hilary Clinton.

By far the best of all the books on the Clinton era. - Edward Said

In No One Left to Lie To, Christopher Hitchens portrays President Bill Clinton as one of the most ideologically skewed and morally negligent politicians of recent times. In a blistering polemic which shows that Clinton was at once philanderer and philistine, crooked and corrupt, Hitchens challenges perceptions - of liberals and conservatives alike - of this highly divisive figure.

With blistering wit and meticulous documentation, Hitchens masterfully deconstructs Clinton's abject propensity for pandering to the Left while delivering to the Right and argues that the president's personal transgressions were inseparable from his political corruption.

Christopher Hitchens' iconclastic collection is the perfect companion to US-UK relations by the greatest Anglo-American writer of his generation.

Since the end of the Cold War so-called experts have been predicting the eclipse of America's "special relationship" with Britain. But as events have shown, especially in the wake of 9/11, the political and cultural ties between America and Britain have grown stronger. Blood, Class and Empire examines the dynamics of this relationship, its many cultural manifestations-the James Bond series, PBS "Brit Kitsch," Rudyard Kipling-and explains why it still persists.

Contrarian, essayist and polemicist, Christopher Hitchens notes that while the relationship is usually presented as a matter of tradition, manners, and common culture, sanctified by wartime alliance, the special ingredient is empire; transmitted from an ancient regime that has tried to preserve and renew itself thereby. England has attempted to play Greece to the American Rome, but ironically having encouraged the United States to become an equal partner in the business of empire, Britain found itself supplanted.

A deeply engaging voice - witty, elegantly sceptical, and with real intellectual sinew. I can think of no-one I would rather read on this subject. - Ian McEwan

In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways.This book explores the entire range of "contrary positions"-from noble dissident to gratuitous pain in the butt. In an age of overly polite debate bending over backward to reach a happy consensus within an increasingly centrist political dialogue, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast. He bemoans the loss of the skills of dialectical thinking evident in contemporary society. He understands the importance of disagreement-to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress-heck, to democracy itself. Epigrammatic, spunky, witty, in your face, timeless and timely, this book is everything you would expect from a mentoring contrarian.

Erm, the article is about the Euro, not the EU. There are plenty of arguments against the Euro that have nothing to do with desirability of EU membership.

I am myself a lifelong atheist, but couldn't imagine how much poorer we would all be if all the religious art, music and architecture were never to have existed. Religion plays a huge role in the world, the vast majority of it positive, so the real heavy atheism puts me off.

 

Here's hoping a read of God is not Great will disabuse you of this stupidity.

ymous31 Jul 19 09:52

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He was a Euro federalist at heart, but didn't like how the project was being enacted when he was still around to comment. I suspect he would have ended up a Brexiteer.

utter bollox 

that classification is the hallmark of most remainers, not europhobic brexters 

He is much better on politics than on religion. God is not Great was a bit puerile and you can tell he doesn't really understand the subject as well as he does politics. All the "contrarian" and "polemicist" bullshit gets really tiring after a while, though, doesn't it? Maybe it's just cos I'm old.

Nah, God Is Not Great was... great.  Religion is inherently ridiculous and a puerile argument (not that his were puerile at all) is more than sufficient to highlight that fact.  He understands perfectly well how absurd religious belief is and clearly articulates why, even if he doesn't go into prolonged (and unnecessary for the purposes of his book) study of religious anthropology.

I am an atheist. I don't need a very clever person to explain to me why the idea of gods, whose ever they are, is a bit silly.

But I would not want to live in a world where there was no religious art (including music and architecture). Truly religious people, and not those that use religion as subterfuge to cynically advance a political agenda, are among the kindest gentlest people that you will ever meet.

The problem that I have with Harris and his ilk is that they seem unable to differentiate between the two, particularly with respect to Islam. I therefore find that these New Atheists are much like the cynical religious people with whom they conflate all religious people.

Genesis gives a an accurate  summary of the creation of the world,  endorsed by geologists and advanced cosmological physics

The fossil evidence disproves evolutionary theory 

An excellent example of how boring contrarianism is. Top marks, Bernstein. 

I don’t normally like polemical takedowns of politicians, because I think politicians have difficult jobs whereas polemicists have easy ones.

But that book on Clinton looks good. I’ve always liked Clinton, but that’s largely because I remember the era when he was in charge as a warm happy and peaceful one. I’d like to read a counterpoint.

"But I would not want to live in a world where there was no religious art (including music and architecture). Truly religious people, and not those that use religion as subterfuge to cynically advance a political agenda, are among the kindest gentlest people that you will ever meet".

I think the human instinct for creativity is universal, if it were not for organised religion art and architecture may have taken a different (probably less proscribed)  forms but who is to say it would not be equally good? 

I am afraid I cannot agree with you about religious people, in my experience they are no more likely to be kind and gentle than atheists in my experience.

 

Now it may be that the human instinct for religion in some form is also universal  and today's atheism is either a blip or taking the form of a religion in its own right.  A separate discussion though

We will have to agree to disagree. While I agree that the human instinct for creativity is universal, many, if not all of the truly spectacular pieces of art require a special kind of devotion. I struggle to think of a secular pice of art that compares to something like Notre Dame or St Peters, or the Hagia Sofia or Blue Mosque. I suppose maybe the Taj Mahal could be considered secular, but could anyone nowadays really be fucked with creating something so "epic", for lack of a better word?

Or put another way, do we really think that religion was crowding out other forms of art, at least on a scale as large as some of the great religious buildings (i'm sure there was potentially plenty of good individual art that would have run foul of blasphemy laws etc. and was therefore suppressed).

And again, I am an atheist who finds the idea of sky pixies a bit silly. That being said you can't help but be moved by a lot of religious art, particularly the architecture.

How is the Taj Mahal secular? It was an Islamic mausoleum which even had a mosque on site.

Clearly great accumulations of wealth are required for large scale architecture and it may be that if it wasn't for organised religion there would not have been alternative sources of funds beyond the places and castles built by the wealthy in any event.   

I suspect organised religion (or at least Christianity) has not actually led to better or more interesting art than had it not existed but accept that there may have been no secular equivalent to the great places of worship absent organised religion.

thus the "maybe". It was primarily a monument of love to his wife, not of love to his god

Wot Guy said the pyramids and cathedrals are great but maybe the plebs would have found life better if the effort had been put into prociding drinking water or sanitation. Great accumulation of wealth means bling bling stuff

I’ve finished the Clinton book (actually a collection of essays). I’ll refrain from judging Hitchens by it until I’ve read more of his work, but tbh it’s no work of brilliance. He’s an excellent writer, a great user of prose, ruthless and percussive when he wants to be. But it’s a hopelessly one-sided bit of work, and the lack of intellectual rigour is jarring.

At one stage he mocks Al Gore when, on the campaign trail, he is asked if he believes Juanita Broadrick’s tape allegations against clinton are true, and he admits that, basically, he doesn’t know. How revealing! says Hitch. To have a vice-president who can’t rven say with certainty that his great friend and ally the President isn’t a rapist. 

What absolute tosh. Nobody knows for certain that anyone except themselves isn’t a rapist, nor whether any other negative statement about them is true. If Gore had asserted as certain truth what he could not not possibly know to be true, then hostile men of the pen like Hitch would have hanged him for that instead. All Gore did was tell the only truth he knew.

There are plenty of examples of sloppy thinking like this in the book. I can only assume, from his reputation, that Hitchens’ other work is better.

Hitchen was a great writer but, like his hero Orwell, had strange blindspots.  With Orwell it was snobbery (despite his best efforts to overcome this) and anti-Semitism (in respect of which he appeared to make no effort).

TBH I don’t think political polemic is a medium that encourages really disciplined thinking. As I said above, in sporting terms the polemicist takes shots-to-nothing for a living. The politician, on the other hand, is forced to play match point every day.

Not that politics encourages disciplined thinking either...

No. I’m certainly not saying politicians are great people, just that their job is quite hard - especially if they’re honest and decent - whereas a polemicist’s is quite easy, whatever his character. Nobody remembers if a polemicist gets it wrong, so they have limited incentive to be disciplined.

Claiming Hitchens as some gateway figure to the alt-right is bizarre, and likening him to morons like Jordan Peterson is just insulting. I'm not sure where the idea that he's anywhere close to writers like that is coming from.