Arguably: Selected Essays Epub å Arguably: Selected

Arguably: Selected Essays Epub å Arguably: Selected

Arguably: Selected Essays [PDF] ✍ Arguably: Selected Essays By Christopher Hitchens – Capitalsoftworks.co.uk The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since , Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admir The first new book of essays by Christopher Hitchens since , Arguably offers an indispensable key to understanding the passionate and skeptical spirit of one of our most dazzling writers, widely admired for the clarity of his style, a result of his disciplined and candid thinking Topics range from ruminations on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men to the haunting science fiction Arguably: Selected PDF/EPUB ² of JG Ballard from the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell to the persistent agonies of anti Semitism and jihad Hitchens even looks at the recent financial crisis and argues for the enduring relevance of Karl Marx The book forms a bridge between the two parallel enterprises of culture and politics It reveals how politics justifies itself by culture, and how the latter prompts the former In this fashion, Arguably burnishes Christopher Hitchens credentials as to quote Christopher Buckley our greatest living essayist in the English language.


10 thoughts on “Arguably: Selected Essays

  1. David David says:

    OK, so if like me you start this collection with the notion that there was something iffy about this Hitchens bloke I mean how can one dude s stuff be everywhere you look, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Atlantic, all over the damned internet and he had that whole British obnoxiousness down to a T, and if you re predisposed to find a reason to dislike him, let me point you to the one demonstrably brain dead essay of the hundred or so in this collection It s on page 389, it s called Why Women OK, so if like me you start this collection with the notion that there was something iffy about this Hitchens bloke I mean how can one dude s stuff be everywhere you look, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Atlantic, all over the damned internet and he had that whole British obnoxiousness down to a T, and if you re predisposed to find a reason to dislike him, let me point you to the one demonstrably brain dead essay of the hundred or so in this collection It s on page 389, it s called Why Women Aren t Funny , it s as stupid as it sounds, and it makes Hitchens seem like a complete tool Upon reading it, you may be tempted to engage in a little confirmation bias, remembering a certain perceived shrillness in his contribution to the whole God debate thing And wasn t he the guy who trashed Mother Theresa Slow down there Time for a reality check A few salient facts 1 Mother Theresa undoubtedly had it coming just ask Sinead O Connor.2 That dumb Why Women Aren t Funny is the ONLY DUD ESSAY IN THIS BOOK Which means that Hitchens is batting over 99% here Think about that for a while When was the last time you came across a nonfiction collection with those kinds of numbers 3 Yes, he can be scathing But, to an impressive degree, it s only when provoked.4 A defining feature of these essays, particularly those dealing with other authors, is their generosity of spirit Frankly, this surprised me a good deal, because it didn t square with my preconceived notion of Hitchens as a kind of super erudite arrogant asshole He is indeed super erudite He can be a contrarian it s a position he obviously enjoys But he is not a jerk quite the opposite, on the basis of these essays, at any rate.5 A major part of the considerable appeal of this collection is just the fun in seeing such an intelligent mind at work I recycled that sentence from my review of Zadie Smith s essay collection, but it s true a fortiori in Hitchens s case.Among these essays, my clear favorites are those in which Hitchens discusses the work of other writers There are about 30 of these, focusing primarily on English authors though Flaubert, Marx, and Stieg Larsson make an appearance, as do Updike, Nabokov, Bellow, Twain, and Upton Sinclair These essays benefit not only from Hitchens s apparently boundless erudition lightly worn , but from his obvious desire always to educate the reader about the best qualities of the work under discussion His introduction to Rebecca West s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is simply astonishing I cannot imagine a better introduction being written To anything Ever Unless there s divine or demonic intervention Maybe not even then At the time, I didn t pay all that much attention to Hitchen s death Reading these essays has made me understand that it is a considerable loss He will be greatly missed


  2. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    The people who must never have power are the humorless To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformityChristopher Hitchens, Arguably Selected EssaysIt is hard to not love Hitchens Or hate him God I miss him He was one of those journalists and public intellectuals yes, that is a tired phrase that constantly made me feel I needed to up my game a bit I would read a no I will NOT use an Hitchens article in Vanity Fair or Slate or about anywhere and realize thatThe people who must never have power are the humorless To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformityChristopher Hitchens, Arguably Selected EssaysIt is hard to not love Hitchens Or hate him God I miss him He was one of those journalists and public intellectuals yes, that is a tired phrase that constantly made me feel I needed to up my game a bit I would read a no I will NOT use an Hitchens article in Vanity Fair or Slate or about anywhere and realize that I hadn t read enough, thought enough, and certainly not crafted my thoughts well enough Tail between my legs I would strive to do better I didn t always agree with Hitchens, but reading him was like watching a master be masterly.A lot of these essays I ve read before on the internet or in some glossy magazine profile I was always amazed at the voracity of his appetite He consumed books He fed on ideas He was a humanist at the very highest level of human I don t mean that to sound like I m worshiping him or unglued He had his faults Many of them But his biases and bigotries were informed by his love of people and ideas Often those who thought they were on his side would find him pounding at their door asking for an explanation or exposing their hypocrisy He would attack sacred cows Mother Theresa see what I did there , pull down idols Bill Clinton and defend his sacred free speech, life, liberty with the savagery of a wild beast He reminded me of some weird love child of George Orwell doesn t every English public school educated journalist want to BE George Orwell s love child and Graham Greene He was Orwell in his defense of the defenseless He was Greene in his need to get out into the mix, the mess of the word world and figure this shit out What does this mean How does this work Why is this happening These are questions that left no one safe Not even friends Martin Amis And GODS help his enemies Insert religous dogmatist here Reading this selection of his later essays was like walking through a neighborhood I frequented a lot in my thirties He was a major voice of my growing up I would read Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan and wonder why we couldn t breed the same here in the US I would watch him debate someone on YouTube and be amazed at how well he could do completely drunk I miss the lush I miss the brain I miss Hitch


  3. Ted Ted says:

    Barbarism is not the inheritance of our prehistory It is the companion that dogs our every step. Alain Finkielkraut, quoted in Hitchens Introduction Christopher Hitchens in 20074 1 2 starsBackgroundChristopher Hitchens doesn t need much of an introduction Just a few words here, condensed from the following Wiki articles Hitchens, Political views and New Atheism.He was born in England in 1949, died in the U.S in 2011 Educated at Oxford, he moved to the United States in 1981, as part of an Barbarism is not the inheritance of our prehistory It is the companion that dogs our every step. Alain Finkielkraut, quoted in Hitchens Introduction Christopher Hitchens in 20074 1 2 starsBackgroundChristopher Hitchens doesn t need much of an introduction Just a few words here, condensed from the following Wiki articles Hitchens, Political views and New Atheism.He was born in England in 1949, died in the U.S in 2011 Educated at Oxford, he moved to the United States in 1981, as part of an editor exchange program between The New Statesman and The Nation Twenty six years later he became a U.S citizen Hitchens had a very successful career as an author and journalist He was also well known as a polemicist and debater, and for his criticisms through three books of Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger.Political views view spoiler In his twenties Hitchens joined the political left, partly over his anger about the Vietnam war He began describing himself as a socialist and a Marxist It was from this political position that he joined the staff of The Nation, and was associated with that oldest bastion of the American left founded in 1865 for twenty years, until not long after 9 11.Hitchens did however begin to drift from the left in the early 1990s, partly because of what he thought was the tepid reaction of the Western left to the Salmon Rushdie Satanic Verses affair It is this affair, in which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie, which enraged Hitchens and of course so many others His ties with the American left were further strained in the 1990s because of the Left s love affair with Bill Clinton, whom Hitchens, for reasons that I m not familiar with, apparently disliked intensely See No One Left To Lie To if you re interested When Hitchens eventually broke with the American Left, he didn t simply align with the Right He didn t care for the mainstream American political actors, supported Ralph Nader in 2000 Bush vs, Gore , was basically neutral in 2004 Bush vs Kerry , and thought Obama preferable to McCain in 2008 McCain he saw as senile , and Palin as a pathological liar By this time he had stopped calling himself a socialist , believing that the socialists had no economic answers any , but continued to insist, enigmatically, that he was still a Marxist He supported globalization, and was seen by some as having adopted many neoconservative views Always an anti authoritarian good , he never admitted the vast problems with globalization and today s super capitalism bad view spoiler He also seems to have been totally unaware of environmental problems which in the next several decades may entirely overwhelm the dangers which he thought would be the great challenges we would face in the 21st century hide spoiler hide spoiler Religious Views view spoiler However, for Hitchens, I would guess that a state enshrined religion ordering that a writer be murdered for blasphemy would have been the acme of what he loved to hate about religion Hitchens had long been antagonistic towards any organized religion, and was well known for his negative views and opinion pieces attacking the three Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam See his book on Mother Teresa, his severe criticisms of Pope Benedict XVI, and his popular book on the subject, God is Not Great Hitchens became well known over the last twenty years as one of the four horsemen of the New Atheism, along with Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Others included in this circle of unbelievers were Ayaan Hirsi Ali about whom Hitchens writes movingly in the present volume see She s No Fundamentalist , A.C Grayling and Steven Pinker hide spoiler What s in the bookThe 107 essays in this book can be better described by being a bitspecificBook reviews Almost half 48 are actually book reviews, of which about two thirds originally appeared in The Atlantic The rest appeared in a variety of publications the NYTBR, the Times Literary Supplement, and eight others The reviews average about eight pages in length, though half a dozen or so are from 10 15 pages.I found the reviews to be generally the most interesting of the pieces Eighteen of these are of various non fiction books, including Due Considerations essays and criticism by John Updike Philip Larkin s Letters to Monica Edward Said s Orientalism W.G Sebald s The Natural History of Destruction Dispatches from the New York Tribune Selected Journalism of Karl Marx and Edmund Burke s Reflections on the Revolution in France.Another nineteen reviews are of biographies John Brown, Mark Twain, Samuel Johnson, Ezra Pound, Somerset Maugham, P.G Wodehouse, John Buchan, Graham Greene, Stephen Spender, C.L.R James, Andre Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Lincoln, JFK, Dickens, Saki, Hitler, Anthony Powell memoirs and Victor Klemperer diaries view spoiler And yes, none of these are biographies of women What can I say hide spoiler The other eleven reviews are of fictional works The Jungle Sinclair , Lolita The Annotated Lolita, Terrorist Updike , Wolf Hall Mantel , Bouvard and Pecuchet Flaubert , The Complete Stories J.G Ballard , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Case of Comrade Tulayev Victor Serge also of his Memoirs of a Revolutionary , Strange Times My Dear The PEN Anthology to Contemporary Iranian Literature, Koba the Dread Martin Amis and a review of several of Saul Bellow s novelsBook introductions Four pieces are introductions that Hitchens was asked to write to the following books Animal Farm, The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende , Our Man in Havana Greene and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, at 30 pages the longest entry in the bookEssays The rest could be termed essays , or perhaps occasional pieces would be just as good The vast majority of these appeared in either Slate or Vanity Fair in the years 2005 2010 They average about five pages, some as short as 2 3, a few over 10.Many of these essays are informative, and many of them are amusing some are both But for me, as a group they simply weren t the match of the reviews Many were mildly interesting, or mildly humorous, puff pieces Some were even irritating, buton that later.Sections of the bookHitchens writings are tossed into six sections in the book 1 ALL AMERICAN 15 reviews, 5 essays addresses books and topics linked closely to America Bios of such as Lincoln, John Brown, Mark Twain, and articles such as America the Banana Republic and In Search of the Washington Novel 2 ECLECTIC AFFINITIES 19 reviews, 5 essays, 3 book introductions was replete with interesting articles, but the section title means little to me diverse resemblances I m sure Hitchens, with his keen intellect and prodigious vocabulary, could scribble down a ten word synopsis of each piece and then point out how they all fit into this linguistic puzzle I m declining to play the game, it was difficult enough to just put a few words to describing it 3 AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS 8 essays is simply MISCELLANEOUS by another name Several are humorous pieces the ones that aren t require the remaining words in the section title 4 OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS 4 reviews, 21 essays are pieces devoted to foreign topics Other than that there s no unifying topic here, everything from Is the Euro Doomed to Edward Said to Vietnam to waterboarding A lot of interesting stuff though 5 LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM 10 reviews, and the introduction to Allende s House of the Spirits These eleven swing wildly from the iridescent to the irritating 6 WORDS WORTH 16 essays are all about various language, speaking, or word topics which caught HItchens critical eye in the last decade of his life Again, I felt there were keen observations mixed in with page fillers, though I didn t mind reading even the latter But some were silly and irritating that word again.On IrritationI ve mentioned a couple times above that I found some of Hitchens pieces irritating Here s why.After 9 11, Hitchens became increasingly insistent that radical Islam posed an existential threat to the United States and Western interests in general I m not about to attempt a rebuttal of that position, but what I want to speak of is his overboard support for the wars that the U.S instituted in the mid east, particularly in Iraq It s pretty well recognized now that there were some extremely mendacious reasons given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq Many people now believe that it was really all about oil, with weapons of mass destruction thrown in as a scare tactic, utterly false accusations that flew right in the face of political realities about Sadam Hussein having supported the terrorists, etc etc It would seem that this run up to the war must have been an exciting opportunity, in Hitchens view, for the U.S to deploy its military might in the mid east, against extremist religious elements in Iraq Of course that was perfectly untrue, the extreme religious elements in the Mideast although admittedly entrenched in many areas of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Iraq, and were muchclosely associated with our ally or maybe that should just be our oil supplier Saudi Arabia And indeed, if Hitchens truly supported a war against state religion, why pick on Iraq Why not go after Iraq s enemy Iran Not that I m advocating such a thing Well, however these things played out for Hitchens, this seems to have become an absolute blind spot in his mental outlook Long after it became clear that the U.S invasion of Iraq had likely caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and ignited a bitter sectarian struggle in the country that continues to this day, Hitchens continued to grasp at straws, finding support for his views on the war in the most absurd trivia It seems that he was simply not capable of admitting that at least this particular instance of fighting against a monotheistic religion had surely been a bad idea.One wonders if even today, with the continued sectarian struggles in Iraq, to say nothing of the rise of ISIS in the area, if Hitchens would be willing to admit that the war had been a colossal mistake in hindsight at least and that after all, the horrible tyrant Hussein who was indeed that would have likely been able to keep that country in a better state of affairs than any that has pertained since.So the irritation comes when some of these articles espouse the support that Hitchens had for this twenty first century crusade as he saw it.SummaryI m not going to recommend any of the individual articles in this book, or go into details about any of them I m sure I ve lost most readers by now If you re still here, you can scan my status updates above or below wherever they are to see indications of some essays I found particularly good.The book is a great source of interesting, short reads Unfortunately it s not at all well suited for short reads on a bus or subway, reading in a doctor s waiting room, or carrying in a backpack It s too damn big A full sized hardbound book, it s over two inches thick, and weighs 2 1 2 pounds Better suited for a bed stand, or somewhere within reach of your favorite reading spot in your abode.It has a serviceable index.dumb me I m not used to reading ebooks, hence it occurred to me only yesterday that an e version of this book it is available is the ideal solution to its size I almost wish I had that instead of the bulky thing I ve got My problem is I ve never got the hang of making highlights and writing notes in e books


  4. Perry Perry says:

    A Provocative Chest of Treasures What Is As American as Apple Pie answer is be lowupdtd 5 4 17 This is the cynosure of all essay collections It s too bad that most of my goodreads friends will likely skip this review in its entirety basing this guess on 17 likes in a couple of years and two improvements updates.In any case, I cannot find the right words to describe how much I love this book I go back to it often to sharpen my thinking and writing and arguing skills His wit was nearly as A Provocative Chest of Treasures What Is As American as Apple Pie answer is be lowupdtd 5 4 17 This is the cynosure of all essay collections It s too bad that most of my goodreads friends will likely skip this review in its entirety basing this guess on 17 likes in a couple of years and two improvements updates.In any case, I cannot find the right words to describe how much I love this book I go back to it often to sharpen my thinking and writing and arguing skills His wit was nearly as brilliantly mordant as Oscar Wilde s No book has challenged and amused me on such a variety of intriguing topics as this collection of Christopher Hitchens best essays Before reading it, I was not a fan of Hitchens Regrettably, I now realize I just wasn t paying attention all those years he was around.Along with his most brilliant, mordant wit, he had a textbook knowledge of a vast array of topics see below While his lexicon was wide and deep, he always wrote in risible, rhythmic sentences that ebbed and flowed whilst he whaled on hypocrisy or satirized politicians or essayed on annoyances, affinities and amusements To give just one straightforward example, in his essay As American as Apple Pie, published in the July 2006 Vanity Fair, he noted of a certain American affinity The crucial word doesn t come into the American idiom until the 1940s, when it was a a part of the gay underworld and b possibly derived from the jazz scene and its oral instrumentation But it has never lost its supposed Victorian origin, which was below job cognate, if you like, with the now archaic going down This term from London s whoredom still has a faint whiff of contempt Stay with me I ve been doing the hard thinking for you The three letter job, with its can do implications, also makes the term especially American Certainly by the time of the war in Vietnam, the war correspondent David Leitch recorded reporters swapping notes When you get to Da Nang ask for Mickey MouthFast Times at Ridgemont HighThis book contains numerous fascinating pieces he wrote about the big names in literature As examples, Harry Potter The Boy Who Lived Mark Twain American Radical Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer Gustave Flaubert I m with Stupide The Dark Side of Dickens W Somerset Maugham Poor Old Willie Graham Greene I ll Be Damned Ezra Pound A Revolutionary Simpleton Evelyn Waugh The Permanent Adolescent P.G Wodehouse The Honorable Schoolboy Anthony Powell An Omnivorous Curiosity Fraser s Flashman Scoundrel Time Saki Where the Wild Things Are Isabel Allende Chile Redux Martin Amis Lightness at Midnight and, Stieg Larsson The Author Who Played with Fire After buying the hardcover, I was so fascinated, so amused and intellectually stimulated that I immediately bought the e book as well I can read these essays over and over, and laugh at something anew on each revisit.I would go on raving about this book but nothing comes to mind wielding enough wittiness to be worthy or any higher a compliment or recommendation.It s broken into sections All American 20 essays on things like Jefferson versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy and, Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Eclectic Affinities 27 essays on topics including many listed above and The Men Who Made England Hilary Mantel s Wolf Hall Samuel Johnson Demons and Dictionaries and, On Animal Farm Amusements, Annoyances and Disappointments 8 essays such as As American as Apple Pie Charles, Prince of Piffle and So Many Men s Rooms, So Little Time see Sen Larry Craig Offshore Accounts 25 with titles including North Korea A Nation of Racist Dwarves and Worse than Nineteen Eighty Four Legacies of Totalitarianism 11 essays from Imagining Hitler Arthur Koestler The Zealot and, W.G Sebald Requiem for Germany and, Words Worth 16 essays, such as When the King Saved God on King James I s translation of the Bible The You Decade and, A Very, Very Dirty Word.I could go on and on and on about how much I love this book, but then I d be a boor


  5. Cora Judd Cora Judd says:

    Arguably is great but it is not of the god is Not Great genre it s a choice selection of Christopher Hitchens own essays, and of a vaster scope than the global fallout from religion that the god title focuses on Although, a reader hungering for a Hitchens style treatment of atheism in essay form can be repeatedly sated by his introduction to the Portable Atheist It is riveting in just the same way, however, and the temptation to adopt Hitchens lucid opinions as my own is also sim Arguably is great but it is not of the god is Not Great genre it s a choice selection of Christopher Hitchens own essays, and of a vaster scope than the global fallout from religion that the god title focuses on Although, a reader hungering for a Hitchens style treatment of atheism in essay form can be repeatedly sated by his introduction to the Portable Atheist It is riveting in just the same way, however, and the temptation to adopt Hitchens lucid opinions as my own is also similar Arguably covers a wild variety of topics Some I may not have typically sought out but all are worth reading and for me, re reading It has introduced many intriguing new titles, authors and subjects for my to read stack I ve kept the globe spinning and Wikipedia fired up throughout memorized a little of the Rubayat and seen Animal Farm acted out in many times and places The political essays arethan a few ranks above my typical American understanding but my perceptions are a bit sharper for having read them anyway and my position on torture is validated His graphic, sumi style images from his experiences in Viet Nam, Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and many , are intense While reading, I ve lost my optimism for humankind a few times, and re found it almost the same number.If I had a complaint, it s that, at 749 pages, it s still too short Thankfully, everything he s written is archived somewhere In all, Arguably is brilliant and it s the perfect book for a reader who wants to level up a few


  6. Madeline Madeline says:

    GAH I can t look away from this cover that Goodreads provided My copy of Arguably is plain, blinding yellow, which sometimes gives me a headache but at least it doesn t stare into my soul I feel sorry for anyone who actually owns a copy with this particular cover of doom on it Before his death, I had a vague awareness of Christopher Hitchens, having read some of his contributions to Vanity Fair, but he never struck me as someone I should be paying close attention to until after he had died a GAH I can t look away from this cover that Goodreads provided My copy of Arguably is plain, blinding yellow, which sometimes gives me a headache but at least it doesn t stare into my soul I feel sorry for anyone who actually owns a copy with this particular cover of doom on it Before his death, I had a vague awareness of Christopher Hitchens, having read some of his contributions to Vanity Fair, but he never struck me as someone I should be paying close attention to until after he had died and I was reading some of his most memorable quotes online Click the link and read 11 It changed my entire perception of Hitchens and made me respect him so muchI was raised Catholic, and you simply do not criticize Mother friggin Teresa It just does not compute for us But the thing is, he was absolutely right After I read that, I decided that I had to readof Hitchens stuff The essays in this group are divided into sections first are a series of book reviews which are less about the books in question andcritical essays on the various dead British men who are the subjects then a bunch of straightforward worshipful essays on mostly dead British male authors a bit entitled Amusements, Annoyances, and Disappointments which, had I been in charge of this collection, would have been titled Hitchens Bitchin tip your waitresses, you ve been great foreign policy essays dealing mostly with the Middle East, Legacies of Totalitarianism and finally a series of brief little essays on a wide range of subjects, including a history of the King James Bible, a discussion of the evolution of the word like , and the joys of the phrase fuck off They re not all awesome I freely admit that I skipped the essays on Edmund Burke, Stephen Spender, and Edward Said because I don t know who those guys are don t know enough about them to make the essays compelling Hitchens can be unbelievably crotchety, particularly in a piece where he whines about how much he hates it when a waiter interrupts dinner ie, interrupts Hitchens speaking to pour wine for everyone at the table Also he has a remarkable tone deaf essay in which he laments that he isn t allowed to say the n word in any context without everyone getting mad at him And of course, his infamous Why Women Aren t Funny essay is here, and it s so mired in smugness and antiquated gender stereotypes that it s not even worth reading, much less taking seriously I ll save you the time and tell you that Hitchens s argument boils down to, women can t be funny because they re too preoccupied with having babies No, really In fact, Hitchens is pretty damn insufferable whenever he has to talk about women, and he is especially irritating when he s discussing Middle Eastern women He has a terrible essay on why it s a good idea for France to ban burquas I personally prefer Jon Stewart s take on the issue, which is that forbidding women to dress a certain way is just as bad as forcing them to do so , and seems to be personally offended by the idea of any woman wearing a burqua, hijab, or even a headscarf In fact, whenever a Middle Eastern woman is mentioned in the book, even if she s just been seen from a distance, Hitchens has to make sure to let us know if she s wearing a headscarf This is weird, because although he frequently seeks out other experts to weigh in on whatever topic he s writing about he even emailed Nora Ephron and Fran Lebowitz for their opinions on his hurr, women can t tell jokes bullshit, because apparently they are the funniest women Christopher Hitchens knows, which makes me sad for a lot of reasons , he never mentions asking a Muslim woman about why she does or doesn t wear a headscarf The idea that a woman would choose to wear a headscarf, rather than being forced to, doesn t seem to have occurred to Hitchens.But everything else he writes about the Middle East is very, very good, and possibly the best essays in the entire collection are when he s discussing his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan there s a particularly stirring essay where Hitchens willingly allows himself to be waterboarded and reports on the experience And despite not always agreeing with it, I was in constant awe of Hitchen s voice and its intelligent, no bullshit tone One thing that at least can be said for Christopher Hitchens he does not condescend to his readers In fact, he expects you to be as smart as he is, and understand all of his references and jokes, and I ll admit that I couldn t always keep up Also admirable is his absolute refusal to cave to any sentimentality he calls the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings an exhausting national sob fest Not that he s heartless One of the most moving essays is about the uses of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and what Hitchens saw when he visited victims who were permanently disfigured because of the chemical I ll give the last word to Hitchens and let him describe the experience himself, because there s really no better way to demonstrate what a talented, brilliant, and secretly compassionate man he was At a school full of children who made sign language to one another or who couldn t sit still or who couldn t move much at all , or who couldn t see or couldn t hearI was then asked if I would like to say a few words, through an interpreter, to the assembly I quite like a captive audience, but I didn t trust myself to say a fucking thing Several of the children in the front row were so wizened and shrunken that they looked as if they could be my seniors I swear to you that Jim Natchway has taken photographs, as one of his few rivals, Philip Jones Griffiths, also took photographs, that simply cannot be printed in this magazine, because they would poison your sleep, as they have poisoned mine


  7. MJ Nicholls MJ Nicholls says:

    A supersize blimp of prime Hitch All the pieces in here are charged with an intellectual and polemical heft unlike what pours from most men s brains The opening batch All American contains the infamous Vidal Loco , a scathing and accurate takedown of the former master s lapse into rambling crank The literary essays in Eclectic Affinities favour the British canon for their focus, however, the superlative takes on Rebecca West and Dickens make up for this clannishness The finest polemical A supersize blimp of prime Hitch All the pieces in here are charged with an intellectual and polemical heft unlike what pours from most men s brains The opening batch All American contains the infamous Vidal Loco , a scathing and accurate takedown of the former master s lapse into rambling crank The literary essays in Eclectic Affinities favour the British canon for their focus, however, the superlative takes on Rebecca West and Dickens make up for this clannishness The finest polemical and political writing is on show in the Offshore Accounts and Amusements, Annoyances Disappointments sections, including the misunderstood Why Women Aren t Funny that earned Hitch huffy haters Legacies of Totalitarianism explores the work of Victor Serge, Martin Amis, and W.G Sebald in a bracing stream of seriously frightening portents Orwell strength writing


  8. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    Best, best, best book of the year.A review to follow, probably next year


  9. Rick Rick says:

    Hitchens, famously an atheist, famously a leftist accused of being reactionary, famously a man who writes, drank, and smoked nearly non stop, famously a man now living on borrowed time with an incurable cancer stalking his days, is nobody s fool, except, like the rest of us, perhaps his own This elephantine book, some 750 pages, the size of a Collected Essays, is just his most recent output Some essays were written and first published at the very end of the 90s but the vast majority of essays Hitchens, famously an atheist, famously a leftist accused of being reactionary, famously a man who writes, drank, and smoked nearly non stop, famously a man now living on borrowed time with an incurable cancer stalking his days, is nobody s fool, except, like the rest of us, perhaps his own This elephantine book, some 750 pages, the size of a Collected Essays, is just his most recent output Some essays were written and first published at the very end of the 90s but the vast majority of essays are from the aughts Frankly, I was a little stunned to discover after purchase that it wasn t a career spanning anthology and anticipated a lot of chaff in with the wheat but was delighted to find that Hitchens has a rare capacity to write a lot about a wide range of things with a keen eye and keener wit Most of the essays originated in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, or Slate Some from miscellaneous newspapers or books reviews Another handful are introductions to books by others The essays in Arguably cover literature, domestic politics, history, human rights, religion, international affairs, the necessary integrity of words, and social s, including but not limited to oral sex There are two essays back to back on Graham Greene that repeat themselves and the book would have been better served by choosing one but overall this collection read very well, smoothly entertaining and frequently provocative in the best sense of that word Hitchens has a reputation as a contrarian because his views can catch one off guard he thought and still thinks that the Iraq War was a necessary, even over due, war he thinks women in the aggregate are less funny than men in the aggregate But in point of fact Hitchens is a stickler for two things principles like those that imperfectly undergird western democracy, secular humanism, and liberal political thought and the right to express one s thoughts He prefers unmasked stupidity to masked stupidity He prefers an open debate to anyone s list of taboo thoughts or sacred cows And if you are debating him with a set of arguments resting on unchallenged assumptions, beware Hitchens is smart, precise, knowledgeable, logical, consistent, and surgical in his assaults on the arguments of others Unlike Gore Vidal who long ago turned his wit and raptor s sense of an opponent s vulnerability into sound bite schtick so much so that now listening to him on any topic is like listening to a talking doll with 12 pre programmed sarcasms and a string to pull , Hitchens, on the other hand, is engaged in any conversation in which he is taking part He hears what others are saying, gives credit where it s due, and skewers statements that are false, na ve, hypocritical, self serving, cowardly, bullying, or merely poorly reasoned His prose is always readable, frequently funny, and always nimble and concise He s convinced me to read P.G Wodehouse, Anthony Powell, Victor Serve, and Rebecca West but not George MacDonald Fraser He unsettled a few of my assumptions and required me to think differently about the Iraq War, the meaning of tolerance and intolerance, and Bill Clinton He provides insightful arguments about the criminality of torture though whether he was required to submit to waterboarding to make his points is another question , the abuse of American history on which the Far Right s views depend, and the importance of W.H.Auden s poem September 1, 1939, a favorite poem of mine as well Like the best of essayists he is a very good companion, whether you are arguing with him or enjoying the benefit of his arguments for a shared view, he makes you smarter This last point is not a small one he makes you smarter not because he persuades you to his views, which he does sometimes, but because he compels you to think about your views What could be better


  10. E. G. E. G. says:

    IntroductionAll American Gods of Our Fathers The United States of Enlightenment The Private Jefferson Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy John Brown The Man Who Ended Slavery Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Mark Twain American Radical Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer JFK In Sickness and by Stealth Saul Bellow The Great Assimilator Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita John Updike, Part One No Way John Updike, Part Two Mr Geniality Vidal Loco IntroductionAll American Gods of Our Fathers The United States of Enlightenment The Private Jefferson Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy John Brown The Man Who Ended Slavery Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Mark Twain American Radical Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer JFK In Sickness and by Stealth Saul Bellow The Great Assimilator Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita John Updike, Part One No Way John Updike, Part Two Mr Geniality Vidal Loco America the Banana Republic An Anglosphere Future Political Animals Old Enough to Die In Defense of Foxhole Atheists In Search of the Washington NovelEclectic Affinities Isaac Newton Flaws of Gravity The Men Who Made England Hilary Mantel s Wolf Hall Edmund Burke Reactionary Prophet Samuel Johnson Demons and Dictionaries Gustave Flaubert I m with Stupide The Dark Side of Dickens Marx s Journalism The Grub Street Years Rebecca West Things Worth Fighting For Ezra Pound A Revolutionary Simpleton On Animal Farm Jessica Mitford s Poison Pen W Somerset Maugham Poor Old Willie Evelyn Waugh The Permanent Adolescent P G Wodehouse The Honorable Schoolboy Anthony Powell An Omnivorous Curiosity John Buchan Spy Thriller s Father Graham Greene I ll Be Damned Death from a Salesman Graham Greene s Bottled Ontology Loving Philip Larkin Stephen Spender A Nice Bloody Fool Edward Upward The Captive Mind C L R James Mid Off, Not Right On J G Ballard The Catastrophist Fraser s Flashman Scoundrel Time Fleet Street s Finest From Waugh to Frayn Saki Where the Wild Things Are Harry Potter The Boy Who LivedAmusements, Annoyances, and Disappointments Why Women Aren t Funny Stieg Larsson The Author Who Played with Fire As American as Apple Pie So Many Men s Rooms, So Little Time The New Commandments In Your Face Wine Drinkers of the World, Unite Charles, Prince of PiffleOffshore Accounts Afghanistan s Dangerous Bet First, Silence the Whistle Blower Believe Me, It s Torture Iran s Waiting Game Long Live Democratic Seismology Benazir Bhutto Daughter of Destiny From Abbottabad to Worse The Perils of Partition Algeria A French Quarrel The Case of Orientalism Edward Said Where the Twain Should Have Met The Swastika and the Cedar Holiday in Iraq Tunisia At the Desert s Edge What Happened to the Suicide Bombers of Jerusalem Childhood s End An African Nightmare The Vietnam Syndrome Once Upon a Time in Germany Worse Than Nineteen Eighty Four North Korea A Nation of Racist Dwarves The Eighteenth Brumaire of the Castro Dynasty Hugo Boss Is the Euro Doomed Overstating Jewish Power The Case for Humanitarian InterventionLegacies of Totalitarianism Victor Serge Pictures from an Inquisition Andr Malraux One Man s Fate Arthur Koestler The Zealot Isabel Allende Chile Redux The Persian Version Martin Amis Lightness at Midnight Imagining Hitler Victor Klemperer Survivor A War Worth Fighting Just Give Peace A Chance W G Sebald Requiem for GermanyWords Worth When the King Saved God Let Them Eat Pork Rinds Stand Up for Denmark Eschew the Taboo She s No Fundamentalist Burned Out Easter Charade Don t Mince Words History and Mystery Words Matter This Was Not Looting The Other L Word The You Decade Suck It Up A Very, Very Dirty Word Prisoner of Shelves AcknowledgementsIndex


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10 thoughts on “Arguably: Selected Essays

  1. David David says:

    OK, so if like me you start this collection with the notion that there was something iffy about this Hitchens bloke I mean how can one dude s stuff be everywhere you look, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Atlantic, all over the damned internet and he had that whole British obnoxiousness down to a T, and if you re predisposed to find a reason to dislike him, let me point you to the one demonstrably brain dead essay of the hundred or so in this collection It s on page 389, it s called Why Women OK, so if like me you start this collection with the notion that there was something iffy about this Hitchens bloke I mean how can one dude s stuff be everywhere you look, Vanity Fair, Esquire, The Atlantic, all over the damned internet and he had that whole British obnoxiousness down to a T, and if you re predisposed to find a reason to dislike him, let me point you to the one demonstrably brain dead essay of the hundred or so in this collection It s on page 389, it s called Why Women Aren t Funny , it s as stupid as it sounds, and it makes Hitchens seem like a complete tool Upon reading it, you may be tempted to engage in a little confirmation bias, remembering a certain perceived shrillness in his contribution to the whole God debate thing And wasn t he the guy who trashed Mother Theresa Slow down there Time for a reality check A few salient facts 1 Mother Theresa undoubtedly had it coming just ask Sinead O Connor.2 That dumb Why Women Aren t Funny is the ONLY DUD ESSAY IN THIS BOOK Which means that Hitchens is batting over 99% here Think about that for a while When was the last time you came across a nonfiction collection with those kinds of numbers 3 Yes, he can be scathing But, to an impressive degree, it s only when provoked.4 A defining feature of these essays, particularly those dealing with other authors, is their generosity of spirit Frankly, this surprised me a good deal, because it didn t square with my preconceived notion of Hitchens as a kind of super erudite arrogant asshole He is indeed super erudite He can be a contrarian it s a position he obviously enjoys But he is not a jerk quite the opposite, on the basis of these essays, at any rate.5 A major part of the considerable appeal of this collection is just the fun in seeing such an intelligent mind at work I recycled that sentence from my review of Zadie Smith s essay collection, but it s true a fortiori in Hitchens s case.Among these essays, my clear favorites are those in which Hitchens discusses the work of other writers There are about 30 of these, focusing primarily on English authors though Flaubert, Marx, and Stieg Larsson make an appearance, as do Updike, Nabokov, Bellow, Twain, and Upton Sinclair These essays benefit not only from Hitchens s apparently boundless erudition lightly worn , but from his obvious desire always to educate the reader about the best qualities of the work under discussion His introduction to Rebecca West s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is simply astonishing I cannot imagine a better introduction being written To anything Ever Unless there s divine or demonic intervention Maybe not even then At the time, I didn t pay all that much attention to Hitchen s death Reading these essays has made me understand that it is a considerable loss He will be greatly missed

  2. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    The people who must never have power are the humorless To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformityChristopher Hitchens, Arguably Selected EssaysIt is hard to not love Hitchens Or hate him God I miss him He was one of those journalists and public intellectuals yes, that is a tired phrase that constantly made me feel I needed to up my game a bit I would read a no I will NOT use an Hitchens article in Vanity Fair or Slate or about anywhere and realize thatThe people who must never have power are the humorless To impossible certainties of rectitude they ally tedium and uniformityChristopher Hitchens, Arguably Selected EssaysIt is hard to not love Hitchens Or hate him God I miss him He was one of those journalists and public intellectuals yes, that is a tired phrase that constantly made me feel I needed to up my game a bit I would read a no I will NOT use an Hitchens article in Vanity Fair or Slate or about anywhere and realize that I hadn t read enough, thought enough, and certainly not crafted my thoughts well enough Tail between my legs I would strive to do better I didn t always agree with Hitchens, but reading him was like watching a master be masterly.A lot of these essays I ve read before on the internet or in some glossy magazine profile I was always amazed at the voracity of his appetite He consumed books He fed on ideas He was a humanist at the very highest level of human I don t mean that to sound like I m worshiping him or unglued He had his faults Many of them But his biases and bigotries were informed by his love of people and ideas Often those who thought they were on his side would find him pounding at their door asking for an explanation or exposing their hypocrisy He would attack sacred cows Mother Theresa see what I did there , pull down idols Bill Clinton and defend his sacred free speech, life, liberty with the savagery of a wild beast He reminded me of some weird love child of George Orwell doesn t every English public school educated journalist want to BE George Orwell s love child and Graham Greene He was Orwell in his defense of the defenseless He was Greene in his need to get out into the mix, the mess of the word world and figure this shit out What does this mean How does this work Why is this happening These are questions that left no one safe Not even friends Martin Amis And GODS help his enemies Insert religous dogmatist here Reading this selection of his later essays was like walking through a neighborhood I frequented a lot in my thirties He was a major voice of my growing up I would read Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan and wonder why we couldn t breed the same here in the US I would watch him debate someone on YouTube and be amazed at how well he could do completely drunk I miss the lush I miss the brain I miss Hitch

  3. Ted Ted says:

    Barbarism is not the inheritance of our prehistory It is the companion that dogs our every step. Alain Finkielkraut, quoted in Hitchens Introduction Christopher Hitchens in 20074 1 2 starsBackgroundChristopher Hitchens doesn t need much of an introduction Just a few words here, condensed from the following Wiki articles Hitchens, Political views and New Atheism.He was born in England in 1949, died in the U.S in 2011 Educated at Oxford, he moved to the United States in 1981, as part of an Barbarism is not the inheritance of our prehistory It is the companion that dogs our every step. Alain Finkielkraut, quoted in Hitchens Introduction Christopher Hitchens in 20074 1 2 starsBackgroundChristopher Hitchens doesn t need much of an introduction Just a few words here, condensed from the following Wiki articles Hitchens, Political views and New Atheism.He was born in England in 1949, died in the U.S in 2011 Educated at Oxford, he moved to the United States in 1981, as part of an editor exchange program between The New Statesman and The Nation Twenty six years later he became a U.S citizen Hitchens had a very successful career as an author and journalist He was also well known as a polemicist and debater, and for his criticisms through three books of Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, and Henry Kissinger.Political views view spoiler In his twenties Hitchens joined the political left, partly over his anger about the Vietnam war He began describing himself as a socialist and a Marxist It was from this political position that he joined the staff of The Nation, and was associated with that oldest bastion of the American left founded in 1865 for twenty years, until not long after 9 11.Hitchens did however begin to drift from the left in the early 1990s, partly because of what he thought was the tepid reaction of the Western left to the Salmon Rushdie Satanic Verses affair It is this affair, in which Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran issued a fatwa ordering Muslims to kill Rushdie, which enraged Hitchens and of course so many others His ties with the American left were further strained in the 1990s because of the Left s love affair with Bill Clinton, whom Hitchens, for reasons that I m not familiar with, apparently disliked intensely See No One Left To Lie To if you re interested When Hitchens eventually broke with the American Left, he didn t simply align with the Right He didn t care for the mainstream American political actors, supported Ralph Nader in 2000 Bush vs, Gore , was basically neutral in 2004 Bush vs Kerry , and thought Obama preferable to McCain in 2008 McCain he saw as senile , and Palin as a pathological liar By this time he had stopped calling himself a socialist , believing that the socialists had no economic answers any , but continued to insist, enigmatically, that he was still a Marxist He supported globalization, and was seen by some as having adopted many neoconservative views Always an anti authoritarian good , he never admitted the vast problems with globalization and today s super capitalism bad view spoiler He also seems to have been totally unaware of environmental problems which in the next several decades may entirely overwhelm the dangers which he thought would be the great challenges we would face in the 21st century hide spoiler hide spoiler Religious Views view spoiler However, for Hitchens, I would guess that a state enshrined religion ordering that a writer be murdered for blasphemy would have been the acme of what he loved to hate about religion Hitchens had long been antagonistic towards any organized religion, and was well known for his negative views and opinion pieces attacking the three Abrahamic religions Judaism, Christianity and Islam See his book on Mother Teresa, his severe criticisms of Pope Benedict XVI, and his popular book on the subject, God is Not Great Hitchens became well known over the last twenty years as one of the four horsemen of the New Atheism, along with Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris Others included in this circle of unbelievers were Ayaan Hirsi Ali about whom Hitchens writes movingly in the present volume see She s No Fundamentalist , A.C Grayling and Steven Pinker hide spoiler What s in the bookThe 107 essays in this book can be better described by being a bitspecificBook reviews Almost half 48 are actually book reviews, of which about two thirds originally appeared in The Atlantic The rest appeared in a variety of publications the NYTBR, the Times Literary Supplement, and eight others The reviews average about eight pages in length, though half a dozen or so are from 10 15 pages.I found the reviews to be generally the most interesting of the pieces Eighteen of these are of various non fiction books, including Due Considerations essays and criticism by John Updike Philip Larkin s Letters to Monica Edward Said s Orientalism W.G Sebald s The Natural History of Destruction Dispatches from the New York Tribune Selected Journalism of Karl Marx and Edmund Burke s Reflections on the Revolution in France.Another nineteen reviews are of biographies John Brown, Mark Twain, Samuel Johnson, Ezra Pound, Somerset Maugham, P.G Wodehouse, John Buchan, Graham Greene, Stephen Spender, C.L.R James, Andre Malraux, Arthur Koestler, Lincoln, JFK, Dickens, Saki, Hitler, Anthony Powell memoirs and Victor Klemperer diaries view spoiler And yes, none of these are biographies of women What can I say hide spoiler The other eleven reviews are of fictional works The Jungle Sinclair , Lolita The Annotated Lolita, Terrorist Updike , Wolf Hall Mantel , Bouvard and Pecuchet Flaubert , The Complete Stories J.G Ballard , Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Case of Comrade Tulayev Victor Serge also of his Memoirs of a Revolutionary , Strange Times My Dear The PEN Anthology to Contemporary Iranian Literature, Koba the Dread Martin Amis and a review of several of Saul Bellow s novelsBook introductions Four pieces are introductions that Hitchens was asked to write to the following books Animal Farm, The House of the Spirits Isabel Allende , Our Man in Havana Greene and Black Lamb and Grey Falcon by Rebecca West, at 30 pages the longest entry in the bookEssays The rest could be termed essays , or perhaps occasional pieces would be just as good The vast majority of these appeared in either Slate or Vanity Fair in the years 2005 2010 They average about five pages, some as short as 2 3, a few over 10.Many of these essays are informative, and many of them are amusing some are both But for me, as a group they simply weren t the match of the reviews Many were mildly interesting, or mildly humorous, puff pieces Some were even irritating, buton that later.Sections of the bookHitchens writings are tossed into six sections in the book 1 ALL AMERICAN 15 reviews, 5 essays addresses books and topics linked closely to America Bios of such as Lincoln, John Brown, Mark Twain, and articles such as America the Banana Republic and In Search of the Washington Novel 2 ECLECTIC AFFINITIES 19 reviews, 5 essays, 3 book introductions was replete with interesting articles, but the section title means little to me diverse resemblances I m sure Hitchens, with his keen intellect and prodigious vocabulary, could scribble down a ten word synopsis of each piece and then point out how they all fit into this linguistic puzzle I m declining to play the game, it was difficult enough to just put a few words to describing it 3 AMUSEMENTS, ANNOYANCES, AND DISAPPOINTMENTS 8 essays is simply MISCELLANEOUS by another name Several are humorous pieces the ones that aren t require the remaining words in the section title 4 OFFSHORE ACCOUNTS 4 reviews, 21 essays are pieces devoted to foreign topics Other than that there s no unifying topic here, everything from Is the Euro Doomed to Edward Said to Vietnam to waterboarding A lot of interesting stuff though 5 LEGACIES OF TOTALITARIANISM 10 reviews, and the introduction to Allende s House of the Spirits These eleven swing wildly from the iridescent to the irritating 6 WORDS WORTH 16 essays are all about various language, speaking, or word topics which caught HItchens critical eye in the last decade of his life Again, I felt there were keen observations mixed in with page fillers, though I didn t mind reading even the latter But some were silly and irritating that word again.On IrritationI ve mentioned a couple times above that I found some of Hitchens pieces irritating Here s why.After 9 11, Hitchens became increasingly insistent that radical Islam posed an existential threat to the United States and Western interests in general I m not about to attempt a rebuttal of that position, but what I want to speak of is his overboard support for the wars that the U.S instituted in the mid east, particularly in Iraq It s pretty well recognized now that there were some extremely mendacious reasons given by the Bush administration for invading Iraq Many people now believe that it was really all about oil, with weapons of mass destruction thrown in as a scare tactic, utterly false accusations that flew right in the face of political realities about Sadam Hussein having supported the terrorists, etc etc It would seem that this run up to the war must have been an exciting opportunity, in Hitchens view, for the U.S to deploy its military might in the mid east, against extremist religious elements in Iraq Of course that was perfectly untrue, the extreme religious elements in the Mideast although admittedly entrenched in many areas of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Iraq, and were muchclosely associated with our ally or maybe that should just be our oil supplier Saudi Arabia And indeed, if Hitchens truly supported a war against state religion, why pick on Iraq Why not go after Iraq s enemy Iran Not that I m advocating such a thing Well, however these things played out for Hitchens, this seems to have become an absolute blind spot in his mental outlook Long after it became clear that the U.S invasion of Iraq had likely caused hundreds of thousands of deaths, and ignited a bitter sectarian struggle in the country that continues to this day, Hitchens continued to grasp at straws, finding support for his views on the war in the most absurd trivia It seems that he was simply not capable of admitting that at least this particular instance of fighting against a monotheistic religion had surely been a bad idea.One wonders if even today, with the continued sectarian struggles in Iraq, to say nothing of the rise of ISIS in the area, if Hitchens would be willing to admit that the war had been a colossal mistake in hindsight at least and that after all, the horrible tyrant Hussein who was indeed that would have likely been able to keep that country in a better state of affairs than any that has pertained since.So the irritation comes when some of these articles espouse the support that Hitchens had for this twenty first century crusade as he saw it.SummaryI m not going to recommend any of the individual articles in this book, or go into details about any of them I m sure I ve lost most readers by now If you re still here, you can scan my status updates above or below wherever they are to see indications of some essays I found particularly good.The book is a great source of interesting, short reads Unfortunately it s not at all well suited for short reads on a bus or subway, reading in a doctor s waiting room, or carrying in a backpack It s too damn big A full sized hardbound book, it s over two inches thick, and weighs 2 1 2 pounds Better suited for a bed stand, or somewhere within reach of your favorite reading spot in your abode.It has a serviceable index.dumb me I m not used to reading ebooks, hence it occurred to me only yesterday that an e version of this book it is available is the ideal solution to its size I almost wish I had that instead of the bulky thing I ve got My problem is I ve never got the hang of making highlights and writing notes in e books

  4. Perry Perry says:

    A Provocative Chest of Treasures What Is As American as Apple Pie answer is be lowupdtd 5 4 17 This is the cynosure of all essay collections It s too bad that most of my goodreads friends will likely skip this review in its entirety basing this guess on 17 likes in a couple of years and two improvements updates.In any case, I cannot find the right words to describe how much I love this book I go back to it often to sharpen my thinking and writing and arguing skills His wit was nearly as A Provocative Chest of Treasures What Is As American as Apple Pie answer is be lowupdtd 5 4 17 This is the cynosure of all essay collections It s too bad that most of my goodreads friends will likely skip this review in its entirety basing this guess on 17 likes in a couple of years and two improvements updates.In any case, I cannot find the right words to describe how much I love this book I go back to it often to sharpen my thinking and writing and arguing skills His wit was nearly as brilliantly mordant as Oscar Wilde s No book has challenged and amused me on such a variety of intriguing topics as this collection of Christopher Hitchens best essays Before reading it, I was not a fan of Hitchens Regrettably, I now realize I just wasn t paying attention all those years he was around.Along with his most brilliant, mordant wit, he had a textbook knowledge of a vast array of topics see below While his lexicon was wide and deep, he always wrote in risible, rhythmic sentences that ebbed and flowed whilst he whaled on hypocrisy or satirized politicians or essayed on annoyances, affinities and amusements To give just one straightforward example, in his essay As American as Apple Pie, published in the July 2006 Vanity Fair, he noted of a certain American affinity The crucial word doesn t come into the American idiom until the 1940s, when it was a a part of the gay underworld and b possibly derived from the jazz scene and its oral instrumentation But it has never lost its supposed Victorian origin, which was below job cognate, if you like, with the now archaic going down This term from London s whoredom still has a faint whiff of contempt Stay with me I ve been doing the hard thinking for you The three letter job, with its can do implications, also makes the term especially American Certainly by the time of the war in Vietnam, the war correspondent David Leitch recorded reporters swapping notes When you get to Da Nang ask for Mickey MouthFast Times at Ridgemont HighThis book contains numerous fascinating pieces he wrote about the big names in literature As examples, Harry Potter The Boy Who Lived Mark Twain American Radical Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer Gustave Flaubert I m with Stupide The Dark Side of Dickens W Somerset Maugham Poor Old Willie Graham Greene I ll Be Damned Ezra Pound A Revolutionary Simpleton Evelyn Waugh The Permanent Adolescent P.G Wodehouse The Honorable Schoolboy Anthony Powell An Omnivorous Curiosity Fraser s Flashman Scoundrel Time Saki Where the Wild Things Are Isabel Allende Chile Redux Martin Amis Lightness at Midnight and, Stieg Larsson The Author Who Played with Fire After buying the hardcover, I was so fascinated, so amused and intellectually stimulated that I immediately bought the e book as well I can read these essays over and over, and laugh at something anew on each revisit.I would go on raving about this book but nothing comes to mind wielding enough wittiness to be worthy or any higher a compliment or recommendation.It s broken into sections All American 20 essays on things like Jefferson versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy and, Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Eclectic Affinities 27 essays on topics including many listed above and The Men Who Made England Hilary Mantel s Wolf Hall Samuel Johnson Demons and Dictionaries and, On Animal Farm Amusements, Annoyances and Disappointments 8 essays such as As American as Apple Pie Charles, Prince of Piffle and So Many Men s Rooms, So Little Time see Sen Larry Craig Offshore Accounts 25 with titles including North Korea A Nation of Racist Dwarves and Worse than Nineteen Eighty Four Legacies of Totalitarianism 11 essays from Imagining Hitler Arthur Koestler The Zealot and, W.G Sebald Requiem for Germany and, Words Worth 16 essays, such as When the King Saved God on King James I s translation of the Bible The You Decade and, A Very, Very Dirty Word.I could go on and on and on about how much I love this book, but then I d be a boor

  5. Cora Judd Cora Judd says:

    Arguably is great but it is not of the god is Not Great genre it s a choice selection of Christopher Hitchens own essays, and of a vaster scope than the global fallout from religion that the god title focuses on Although, a reader hungering for a Hitchens style treatment of atheism in essay form can be repeatedly sated by his introduction to the Portable Atheist It is riveting in just the same way, however, and the temptation to adopt Hitchens lucid opinions as my own is also sim Arguably is great but it is not of the god is Not Great genre it s a choice selection of Christopher Hitchens own essays, and of a vaster scope than the global fallout from religion that the god title focuses on Although, a reader hungering for a Hitchens style treatment of atheism in essay form can be repeatedly sated by his introduction to the Portable Atheist It is riveting in just the same way, however, and the temptation to adopt Hitchens lucid opinions as my own is also similar Arguably covers a wild variety of topics Some I may not have typically sought out but all are worth reading and for me, re reading It has introduced many intriguing new titles, authors and subjects for my to read stack I ve kept the globe spinning and Wikipedia fired up throughout memorized a little of the Rubayat and seen Animal Farm acted out in many times and places The political essays arethan a few ranks above my typical American understanding but my perceptions are a bit sharper for having read them anyway and my position on torture is validated His graphic, sumi style images from his experiences in Viet Nam, Cuba, Pakistan, Iran and many , are intense While reading, I ve lost my optimism for humankind a few times, and re found it almost the same number.If I had a complaint, it s that, at 749 pages, it s still too short Thankfully, everything he s written is archived somewhere In all, Arguably is brilliant and it s the perfect book for a reader who wants to level up a few

  6. Madeline Madeline says:

    GAH I can t look away from this cover that Goodreads provided My copy of Arguably is plain, blinding yellow, which sometimes gives me a headache but at least it doesn t stare into my soul I feel sorry for anyone who actually owns a copy with this particular cover of doom on it Before his death, I had a vague awareness of Christopher Hitchens, having read some of his contributions to Vanity Fair, but he never struck me as someone I should be paying close attention to until after he had died a GAH I can t look away from this cover that Goodreads provided My copy of Arguably is plain, blinding yellow, which sometimes gives me a headache but at least it doesn t stare into my soul I feel sorry for anyone who actually owns a copy with this particular cover of doom on it Before his death, I had a vague awareness of Christopher Hitchens, having read some of his contributions to Vanity Fair, but he never struck me as someone I should be paying close attention to until after he had died and I was reading some of his most memorable quotes online Click the link and read 11 It changed my entire perception of Hitchens and made me respect him so muchI was raised Catholic, and you simply do not criticize Mother friggin Teresa It just does not compute for us But the thing is, he was absolutely right After I read that, I decided that I had to readof Hitchens stuff The essays in this group are divided into sections first are a series of book reviews which are less about the books in question andcritical essays on the various dead British men who are the subjects then a bunch of straightforward worshipful essays on mostly dead British male authors a bit entitled Amusements, Annoyances, and Disappointments which, had I been in charge of this collection, would have been titled Hitchens Bitchin tip your waitresses, you ve been great foreign policy essays dealing mostly with the Middle East, Legacies of Totalitarianism and finally a series of brief little essays on a wide range of subjects, including a history of the King James Bible, a discussion of the evolution of the word like , and the joys of the phrase fuck off They re not all awesome I freely admit that I skipped the essays on Edmund Burke, Stephen Spender, and Edward Said because I don t know who those guys are don t know enough about them to make the essays compelling Hitchens can be unbelievably crotchety, particularly in a piece where he whines about how much he hates it when a waiter interrupts dinner ie, interrupts Hitchens speaking to pour wine for everyone at the table Also he has a remarkable tone deaf essay in which he laments that he isn t allowed to say the n word in any context without everyone getting mad at him And of course, his infamous Why Women Aren t Funny essay is here, and it s so mired in smugness and antiquated gender stereotypes that it s not even worth reading, much less taking seriously I ll save you the time and tell you that Hitchens s argument boils down to, women can t be funny because they re too preoccupied with having babies No, really In fact, Hitchens is pretty damn insufferable whenever he has to talk about women, and he is especially irritating when he s discussing Middle Eastern women He has a terrible essay on why it s a good idea for France to ban burquas I personally prefer Jon Stewart s take on the issue, which is that forbidding women to dress a certain way is just as bad as forcing them to do so , and seems to be personally offended by the idea of any woman wearing a burqua, hijab, or even a headscarf In fact, whenever a Middle Eastern woman is mentioned in the book, even if she s just been seen from a distance, Hitchens has to make sure to let us know if she s wearing a headscarf This is weird, because although he frequently seeks out other experts to weigh in on whatever topic he s writing about he even emailed Nora Ephron and Fran Lebowitz for their opinions on his hurr, women can t tell jokes bullshit, because apparently they are the funniest women Christopher Hitchens knows, which makes me sad for a lot of reasons , he never mentions asking a Muslim woman about why she does or doesn t wear a headscarf The idea that a woman would choose to wear a headscarf, rather than being forced to, doesn t seem to have occurred to Hitchens.But everything else he writes about the Middle East is very, very good, and possibly the best essays in the entire collection are when he s discussing his experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan there s a particularly stirring essay where Hitchens willingly allows himself to be waterboarded and reports on the experience And despite not always agreeing with it, I was in constant awe of Hitchen s voice and its intelligent, no bullshit tone One thing that at least can be said for Christopher Hitchens he does not condescend to his readers In fact, he expects you to be as smart as he is, and understand all of his references and jokes, and I ll admit that I couldn t always keep up Also admirable is his absolute refusal to cave to any sentimentality he calls the aftermath of the Virginia Tech shootings an exhausting national sob fest Not that he s heartless One of the most moving essays is about the uses of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, and what Hitchens saw when he visited victims who were permanently disfigured because of the chemical I ll give the last word to Hitchens and let him describe the experience himself, because there s really no better way to demonstrate what a talented, brilliant, and secretly compassionate man he was At a school full of children who made sign language to one another or who couldn t sit still or who couldn t move much at all , or who couldn t see or couldn t hearI was then asked if I would like to say a few words, through an interpreter, to the assembly I quite like a captive audience, but I didn t trust myself to say a fucking thing Several of the children in the front row were so wizened and shrunken that they looked as if they could be my seniors I swear to you that Jim Natchway has taken photographs, as one of his few rivals, Philip Jones Griffiths, also took photographs, that simply cannot be printed in this magazine, because they would poison your sleep, as they have poisoned mine

  7. MJ Nicholls MJ Nicholls says:

    A supersize blimp of prime Hitch All the pieces in here are charged with an intellectual and polemical heft unlike what pours from most men s brains The opening batch All American contains the infamous Vidal Loco , a scathing and accurate takedown of the former master s lapse into rambling crank The literary essays in Eclectic Affinities favour the British canon for their focus, however, the superlative takes on Rebecca West and Dickens make up for this clannishness The finest polemical A supersize blimp of prime Hitch All the pieces in here are charged with an intellectual and polemical heft unlike what pours from most men s brains The opening batch All American contains the infamous Vidal Loco , a scathing and accurate takedown of the former master s lapse into rambling crank The literary essays in Eclectic Affinities favour the British canon for their focus, however, the superlative takes on Rebecca West and Dickens make up for this clannishness The finest polemical and political writing is on show in the Offshore Accounts and Amusements, Annoyances Disappointments sections, including the misunderstood Why Women Aren t Funny that earned Hitch huffy haters Legacies of Totalitarianism explores the work of Victor Serge, Martin Amis, and W.G Sebald in a bracing stream of seriously frightening portents Orwell strength writing

  8. Petra-X Petra-X says:

    Best, best, best book of the year.A review to follow, probably next year

  9. Rick Rick says:

    Hitchens, famously an atheist, famously a leftist accused of being reactionary, famously a man who writes, drank, and smoked nearly non stop, famously a man now living on borrowed time with an incurable cancer stalking his days, is nobody s fool, except, like the rest of us, perhaps his own This elephantine book, some 750 pages, the size of a Collected Essays, is just his most recent output Some essays were written and first published at the very end of the 90s but the vast majority of essays Hitchens, famously an atheist, famously a leftist accused of being reactionary, famously a man who writes, drank, and smoked nearly non stop, famously a man now living on borrowed time with an incurable cancer stalking his days, is nobody s fool, except, like the rest of us, perhaps his own This elephantine book, some 750 pages, the size of a Collected Essays, is just his most recent output Some essays were written and first published at the very end of the 90s but the vast majority of essays are from the aughts Frankly, I was a little stunned to discover after purchase that it wasn t a career spanning anthology and anticipated a lot of chaff in with the wheat but was delighted to find that Hitchens has a rare capacity to write a lot about a wide range of things with a keen eye and keener wit Most of the essays originated in Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, or Slate Some from miscellaneous newspapers or books reviews Another handful are introductions to books by others The essays in Arguably cover literature, domestic politics, history, human rights, religion, international affairs, the necessary integrity of words, and social s, including but not limited to oral sex There are two essays back to back on Graham Greene that repeat themselves and the book would have been better served by choosing one but overall this collection read very well, smoothly entertaining and frequently provocative in the best sense of that word Hitchens has a reputation as a contrarian because his views can catch one off guard he thought and still thinks that the Iraq War was a necessary, even over due, war he thinks women in the aggregate are less funny than men in the aggregate But in point of fact Hitchens is a stickler for two things principles like those that imperfectly undergird western democracy, secular humanism, and liberal political thought and the right to express one s thoughts He prefers unmasked stupidity to masked stupidity He prefers an open debate to anyone s list of taboo thoughts or sacred cows And if you are debating him with a set of arguments resting on unchallenged assumptions, beware Hitchens is smart, precise, knowledgeable, logical, consistent, and surgical in his assaults on the arguments of others Unlike Gore Vidal who long ago turned his wit and raptor s sense of an opponent s vulnerability into sound bite schtick so much so that now listening to him on any topic is like listening to a talking doll with 12 pre programmed sarcasms and a string to pull , Hitchens, on the other hand, is engaged in any conversation in which he is taking part He hears what others are saying, gives credit where it s due, and skewers statements that are false, na ve, hypocritical, self serving, cowardly, bullying, or merely poorly reasoned His prose is always readable, frequently funny, and always nimble and concise He s convinced me to read P.G Wodehouse, Anthony Powell, Victor Serve, and Rebecca West but not George MacDonald Fraser He unsettled a few of my assumptions and required me to think differently about the Iraq War, the meaning of tolerance and intolerance, and Bill Clinton He provides insightful arguments about the criminality of torture though whether he was required to submit to waterboarding to make his points is another question , the abuse of American history on which the Far Right s views depend, and the importance of W.H.Auden s poem September 1, 1939, a favorite poem of mine as well Like the best of essayists he is a very good companion, whether you are arguing with him or enjoying the benefit of his arguments for a shared view, he makes you smarter This last point is not a small one he makes you smarter not because he persuades you to his views, which he does sometimes, but because he compels you to think about your views What could be better

  10. E. G. E. G. says:

    IntroductionAll American Gods of Our Fathers The United States of Enlightenment The Private Jefferson Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy John Brown The Man Who Ended Slavery Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Mark Twain American Radical Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer JFK In Sickness and by Stealth Saul Bellow The Great Assimilator Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita John Updike, Part One No Way John Updike, Part Two Mr Geniality Vidal Loco IntroductionAll American Gods of Our Fathers The United States of Enlightenment The Private Jefferson Jefferson Versus the Muslim Pirates Benjamin Franklin Free and Easy John Brown The Man Who Ended Slavery Abraham Lincoln Misery s Child Mark Twain American Radical Upton Sinclair A Capitalist Primer JFK In Sickness and by Stealth Saul Bellow The Great Assimilator Vladimir Nabokov Hurricane Lolita John Updike, Part One No Way John Updike, Part Two Mr Geniality Vidal Loco America the Banana Republic An Anglosphere Future Political Animals Old Enough to Die In Defense of Foxhole Atheists In Search of the Washington NovelEclectic Affinities Isaac Newton Flaws of Gravity The Men Who Made England Hilary Mantel s Wolf Hall Edmund Burke Reactionary Prophet Samuel Johnson Demons and Dictionaries Gustave Flaubert I m with Stupide The Dark Side of Dickens Marx s Journalism The Grub Street Years Rebecca West Things Worth Fighting For Ezra Pound A Revolutionary Simpleton On Animal Farm Jessica Mitford s Poison Pen W Somerset Maugham Poor Old Willie Evelyn Waugh The Permanent Adolescent P G Wodehouse The Honorable Schoolboy Anthony Powell An Omnivorous Curiosity John Buchan Spy Thriller s Father Graham Greene I ll Be Damned Death from a Salesman Graham Greene s Bottled Ontology Loving Philip Larkin Stephen Spender A Nice Bloody Fool Edward Upward The Captive Mind C L R James Mid Off, Not Right On J G Ballard The Catastrophist Fraser s Flashman Scoundrel Time Fleet Street s Finest From Waugh to Frayn Saki Where the Wild Things Are Harry Potter The Boy Who LivedAmusements, Annoyances, and Disappointments Why Women Aren t Funny Stieg Larsson The Author Who Played with Fire As American as Apple Pie So Many Men s Rooms, So Little Time The New Commandments In Your Face Wine Drinkers of the World, Unite Charles, Prince of PiffleOffshore Accounts Afghanistan s Dangerous Bet First, Silence the Whistle Blower Believe Me, It s Torture Iran s Waiting Game Long Live Democratic Seismology Benazir Bhutto Daughter of Destiny From Abbottabad to Worse The Perils of Partition Algeria A French Quarrel The Case of Orientalism Edward Said Where the Twain Should Have Met The Swastika and the Cedar Holiday in Iraq Tunisia At the Desert s Edge What Happened to the Suicide Bombers of Jerusalem Childhood s End An African Nightmare The Vietnam Syndrome Once Upon a Time in Germany Worse Than Nineteen Eighty Four North Korea A Nation of Racist Dwarves The Eighteenth Brumaire of the Castro Dynasty Hugo Boss Is the Euro Doomed Overstating Jewish Power The Case for Humanitarian InterventionLegacies of Totalitarianism Victor Serge Pictures from an Inquisition Andr Malraux One Man s Fate Arthur Koestler The Zealot Isabel Allende Chile Redux The Persian Version Martin Amis Lightness at Midnight Imagining Hitler Victor Klemperer Survivor A War Worth Fighting Just Give Peace A Chance W G Sebald Requiem for GermanyWords Worth When the King Saved God Let Them Eat Pork Rinds Stand Up for Denmark Eschew the Taboo She s No Fundamentalist Burned Out Easter Charade Don t Mince Words History and Mystery Words Matter This Was Not Looting The Other L Word The You Decade Suck It Up A Very, Very Dirty Word Prisoner of Shelves AcknowledgementsIndex

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