Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Mortality” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  12,693 ratings  ·  1,364 reviews
During the US book tour for his memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens collapsed in his New York hotel room to excoriating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of deeply moving Vanity Fair pieces, he was being deported 'from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady.' Over the next year he ...more
Hardcover, 106 pages
Published September 1st 2012 by Atlantic (first published January 1st 2012)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Mortality, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Mortality

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Petra X
(view spoiler)

3.75 stars really, but I gave it 5 because Christopher Hitchens wrote it whilst dying of cancer and because of the concept of cancer being another country foreign to the one that we live in.

My mother died of can
Wow. He did it. He did dying just as he did living.
He faced his mortality with a steadfast gaze, as well as his trademark wit, humour, and incessant curiosity. His real most deep-seated fear was of losing his ability to express himself, of not being able to talk or to write.
He does still get the last word. I love that this book comes out posthumously. It's as if he is talking to us right now: "And another thing!"
His wife Carol Blue wrote a moving afterword in which she described their 'new wor
Mike Puma

I’m one of those people who always enjoyed hearing Christopher Hitchens speak—on anything—in his confrontational style, with his humor, his lightning-fast logic, with the breadth and depth of his intellect always on display. I miss Christopher Hitchens. Even when I disagreed with his position (the invasion of Iraq), I’d still marvel at his grasp of fact and adamant (belligerent) defense. I miss him.

In Mortality, Hitchens describes his diagnosis, treatment and the subsequent failure of the body,

A book on the dark subject of death that lightens the load with straight shots of clarity, honesty, and a form of wisdom. For those who loved the cultural critic Hitchens as a voice of truth that perfectly balanced logic and wit, fear not the potentials for emotional devastation in this discourse on his own process of death from esophageal cancer. It’s short enough to be read in one sitting and contains no self-pity. He gave me some courage about my own mortality.

The book contains several essays
This is proving very hard to write about.

Hitch was a writer, to his core. I know this just through the sense of his writings - that's how I met so many other interesting people. It was something which defined him.

To this extent, it's not too surprising that new books come out after he has passed. This little collection of essays are meditative, a little self-pitying, but mostly as dignified as cancer would let him be. Fierce and stoic, almost up to the very end.

He was funny, provocative, and ch
This short collection of writings done by Christopher Hitchens detailing his experience with cancer, dying and mortality reminds me in no little way of a 21st century Montaigne. While I was expecting Hitchen's stoic materialism to jump off the page, I was also surprised by his gentleness. This is a man who loved life. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved to think, to write and to speak. Is there any greater testament to a life well-lived than to read or listen to a man's final wor ...more
Christopher Hitchens died a year ago next month (Dec. 2011). These rememberances are of the eighteen months he spent preparing for death and hoping for life. His terminal diagnosis was esophageal cancer, a hideous disease that effects the ability to speak. Although wisdom is everywhere present in his last essays for Vanity Fair reproduced in MORTALITY, it is to this loss that he addresses so intimately that I wish to share.

"Most despond-inducing and alarming of all, so far, was the moment when m
"The moment life departs the body, it belongs to death. At one with lamps, suitcases, carpets, door handles, windows. Fields, marshes, streams, mountains, clouds, the sky. None of these is alien to us. We are constantly surrounded by objects and phenomena from the realm of death. Nonetheless, there are a few things that arouse in us greater distaste than to see a human being caught up in it, at least if we are to judge by the efforts we make to keep corpses out of sight. In larger hospitals they ...more
I didn’t always agree with Christopher Hitchens (war with Iraq, for instance) but I always admired his brilliant mind and I enjoyed his feisty, combative personality. Because Hitchens was an outspoken atheist, I was most curious to read his observations on mortality. These moving and brave final essays were so much more than what I expected. I found them to be deeply thought-provoking and sometimes difficult but compelling to read.

The author died of esophageal cancer in 2011, which was as ironic
Hunger For Knowledge
I have enormous respect towards Hitchens not just as a writer but as a persona, intellectual and a thinker. It was not always about agreeing with his views, though I often did, but the way he was able to write down his opinions, thoughts, criticism and reasoning. He was a writer with a big W.

After savoring his last battle words, I have come to an conclusion that I do not want to review this book because I could never do justice to it the way I would want to. I will keep my thoughts as a private
Whatever one's opinion on Christopher Hitchens' religious views, it's indisputable that the man can write. This collection of essays was penned after his diagnosis of terminal esophageal cancer and before his untimely death.

The focus of this book is more about his experience of dying of cancer than anything else, but his chapter on the varying responses of Christians to his diagnosis is among the richest in the book. The contrast between those who gleefully indulged in their belief that this wa
Transcendent and universal, yet without a happy ending: there could be no other title. And it's not like Christopher Hitchens would have authored yet another celebrity cancer memoir, is it?

He writes from "Tumortown" but beyond, there is a vast less-explored interior, where the likes of me hang out, those with the thousands, millions of different more-or-less sickly Cinderella illnesses. Though they comprehend the city's size and very serious troubles, they are sometimes resentful and bewildered
Aug 27, 2012 B0nnie marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
*sob* this will break your heart:

"The following is Carol Blue’s afterword to her husband Christopher Hitchens’ book Mortality, out in September from Twelve.

Onstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.
If you ever saw him at the podium, you may not share Richard Dawkins’ assessment that “he was the greatest orator of our time,” but you will know what I mean—or at least you won’t think, She would say that, she’s his wife.

Offstage, my husband was an impossible act to follow.

At home at one o
This was like walking in on the final act of some grand production. Walking in on Romeo dooming himself as Juliet awakes. The last cries of ‘Jack! Rose!’ as the Leocicle drops into the icy Atlantic...hearing the last notes of ‘Hiding All Away’ by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.

Yeah. Like that.

By now you know that I’m not the deepest well in the field. I spent my twenties reading Weetzie Bat and bopping around to King Missile. I know, I should have been studying the NYTBR or listening to Ira Glass
Hitchens writes: "If I convert it's because it's better that a believer dies than that an atheist does." -pg. 91.

There's no denying the integrity in his life, nor the intellect and wit in his speaking and writing.

But what can I make of this book? It was an easy enough read, but the fact that we're approaching the topic from two diametrically opposed worldviews made it challenging. Is it enough that we respect one another, or give some semblance of respect?

I've watched Hitchens debate religion an
K.D. Absolutely
I have no love lost for Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011).

That's probably I got least affected compared to many of my friends who have read and liked this farewell book of the great literary critic. When I was new in Goodreads, I heard about him from a fellow Filipino who is in Goodreads but lives in the Visayas. He ranted and raved about him because he thought that the literary criticism books of Hitchens were must-reads for all serious literary readers. I got some of those books but still have
The day I found out that Christopher Hitchens had died was the day I felt as if someone from my own family had perished.
Christopher Hitchens is, by far, the world's greatest orator, thinker, debater... and I say "is", because, despite his death his words continue to reverberate. He is alive. He will always be alive.
And just as his wife put it in the afterword, "Christopher always has the last word".

"Mortality" is Hitchens' journey through what must have been some of the most painful time in his
Jul 24, 2015 Lesley rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lesley by: Enrique Valdivia
I might give this book 5 stars on a second read. I watched my mother's chronic illness become terminal over the course of about 12 years. So much of what Hitchens writes was so familiar -- but he only had 19 months to face it all. Being with my mother in her death stripped the concept of all sentimentality for me. It's simply a fucking nightmare. But real. I feel like Hitchens captured that awfulness -- in every sense of the word, and again, without sentimentality. He calls out the bullshit ways ...more
Scott Collins
Hitchens had no patience for pieties or platitudes. What subject summons up more pieties and platitudes from others than one's own impending demise? His diagnosis of stage 4 esophageal cancer (there is, he reminds us, no stage 5) makes for a perfect match of author and subject. No one better than Hitch - in-yer-face atheist, talker extraordinaire, all-around pain-in-the-butt - to send the sanctimonious scurrying. My favorite episode here involves his dialogue with a matron at a book signing who ...more
As a dark Shadow
Beckons his prey
Into the unknown
By a soft whisper
In the soul

Like many others, I don't want to face my mortality, especially now that I've come to accept this may be the only chance at "life" that we get. Quite frankly, I'm enjoying the party and in no hurry for it to least not yet.

It is with this mindset that I read Mortality, a reflective and painfully poignant piece written by an atheist in the foxhole (ie the thoughts and musings of Christo
when christopher hitchens passed away last december, the world lost one of its most trenchant, penetrating, and unabashedly forthright journalists and thinkers. as an intellectual luminary and stalwart critic of organized religion, zionism, and political duplicity, hitchens must surely rank amongst the late twentieth century's most iconoclastic and outspoken figures. with acolytes and detractors aplenty, hitchens was often a divisive figure, yet one seemingly committed to veracity above all.

Terri Lynn
I put off reading this for a bit because I knew it would hurt. I have been a Christopher Hitchens fan since his excellent and well researched book on Jewish/Christian/Muslim mythologies (among others)God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything God Is Not Great How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens came out. I had been able to share that book with adults, teens, and even some intelligent tweens who had been brainwashed into believing in Christian mythology as well as using it as a worldview text when teaching homeschool classes on the subject ...more
Carol Smith
Ah, Hitch. Miss you. After reading half of Mortality last night, I fell asleep to a personal, internal conversation with you. How is it that I can miss someone so much that I never actually knew? That I feel I knew. Why is that? Hitch identifies it, I think, when he thanks a past editor who advised him to write "more like the way you talk". Even to the last he did just that. He speaks to you, the reader.

I had already read most of these essays as they came out in Vanity Fair during his 19 months
What a man...sorely missed...I sure wish I could have seen him in person,and had him sign my books...he'll piss you off...he'll challenge you...he'll make you think,and he'll certainly make you laugh....even chortle with discomfort at times...but what a writer he is...what a guy.....

Read his prepared for strong opinions,and a man that wasn't afraid to say what he thought about most anything.....
Jason Carlin
I'd never read Hitchens before, only religiously - no pun intended - scoured the internet for debates where he clinically embedded himself in my mind. To my benefit, this made reading this book ridiculously more pleasurable. Hitch has the most susceptible tone of voice imaginable, so being able to hear it so distinctly only reinforced the conviction he already showed in speech after speech.

That being said, I found that most of the pages seeped that vague hint of melancholy - although I don't th
Jud Barry
Pity the dying nonbeliever, but not for the usual reason: the bout of dire existential wrestling with the approaching probabilities of afterlife. No, rather pity him or her for the grotesqueness with which popular culture, fueled by believers unable to contemplate such a reality, endows the scene.

It's not that way. I've lost two parents, both unbelievers, and both of whom met their deaths with as much dignity as their conditions allowed, which is probably par for the non-believing final hole.

It's really too bad that Vanity Fair seems to have removed from their site the article by Hitchens that makes up chapter 6 in this book, then titled as "Trial of the Will". It is one of the best pieces of writing that I have read from him. Honest, open and vulnerable (the last word - vulnerable - not previously a word I would have used to describe Hitchens), admitting prior to his illness that he had a much more Nietzschian/macho ideal of "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger", but after he be ...more
As I have previous indicated in this forum, I had the rare and humble experience of meeting Christopher Hitchens at a book signing; and the equally humbling experience of having him quip about my professed love of the complex language sometimes utilized in his work. The date was June 15, 2010. One week, exactly, after he had been seen in a NYC emergency room for a then presumed heart attack. Shortly thereafter, the news emerged about the grave situation surrounding his health.

I was immediately s

Christopher Hitchens, conhecido autor e jornalista, relata neste seu livro de memórias, a sua batalha contra o cancro. Mas este não é o típico livro de memórias. É certamente mais que isso. É um livro que traz à luz reflexões sobre o que é estar naquele espaço de tempo que não é propriamente vida, mas que também não é morte. É aquele interlúdio em que ainda temos esperança de vencer a morte, mas sabemos que não estaremos vivos por muito tempo. Christopher Hitchens, ao contar a sua experiência co
Elizabeth Theiss
Hitchens faces death with a wicked wit and a defiant, unapologetic atheism. Far from morbid, this book faces death in daylight with humor and honesty.

Let me put it another way: living as I do with a spouse suffering from a progressive, degenerative and fatal brain disease, I found this book hilarious. Hitchens describes his encounter with a woman who had to share a friend's cancer story and its terrible ending. He is taken aback as she ends her story saying, I know exactly how you feel. OMG! Hi
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Drew Sennett 1 5 Aug 27, 2015 07:36AM  
Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. someone to look with powers to remove 4 236 Mar 26, 2014 06:53PM  
The passing away of a great man and author. 4 108 Dec 06, 2013 07:41AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Mortality: ISBN 9781455502752 2 24 Feb 15, 2013 10:56AM  
  • Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless
  • The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought
  • Deconverted: a Journey from Religion to Reason
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
  • The Atheist's Bible: An Illustrious Collection of Irreverent Thoughts
  • 50 Reasons People Give for Believing in a God
  • Doubt: A History: The Great Doubters and Their Legacy of Innovation from Socrates and Jesus to Thomas Jefferson and Emily Dickinson
  • Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists
  • The New Atheism: Taking a Stand for Science and Reason
  • Attack of the Theocrats!: How the Religious Right Harms Us All — and What We Can Do About It
  • Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism
  • Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism
  • Every Day is an Atheist Holiday
  • Some Mistakes of Moses
  • The Cambridge Companion to Atheism
  • A Manual for Creating Atheists
  • Why We Believe in God(s): A Concise Guide to the Science of Faith
  • Against All Gods: Six Polemics on Religion and an Essay on Kindness
Christopher Eric Hitchens (April 13, 1949 – December 15, 2011) was an English-born American author, journalist and literary critic. He was a contributor to Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, World Affairs, The Nation, Slate, Free Inquiry and a variety of other media outlets. Hitchens was also a political observer, whose best-selling books — the most famous being God Is Not Great — made him a staple of tal ...more
More about Christopher Hitchens...
God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever Hitch-22: A Memoir Arguably: Selected Essays Letters to a Young Contrarian

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“To the dumb question "Why me?" the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: why not?” 154 likes
“The man who prays is the one who thinks that god has arranged matters all wrong, but who also thinks that he can instruct god how to put them right.” 115 likes
More quotes…