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The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favourite Fetish

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  417 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
'Why, when the subject of royalty or monarchy is mentioned, do the British bid adieu to every vestige of proportion, modesty, humour and restraint? '

This is not a call for the monarchy’s abolition by fiat; illusions cannot be abolished. This is an invitation to think. In this scathing essay, Christopher Hitchens looks at the relationship of the press and the public to the
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ebook, Diamond Jubilee Edition, 64 pages
Published May 29th 2012 by Vintage Books (first published 1990)
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Sam Quixote
Jul 16, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Christopher Hitchens invites you to think about the Monarchy in Britain, or the United Kingdom - emphasis on the Kingdom - and ask yourself: do we really need it? Shouldn't we, as modern peoples, abolish it? Why do Britons define themselves with the Monarchy and why does it play such a prominent role, especially today? This is Hitchens' persuasive and interesting essay on why he believes the Monarchy should be abolished and I for one enjoyed it.

Yes, I'm a Republican (though not as Americans defi
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Patrick Sherriff
Feb 10, 2016 Patrick Sherriff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: journailsm
As I started this last night and and finished it this afternoon, I couldn't help but think how dated this argument is. Not that anything Hitchens said is not still true, it is, it's just that why are we still having this debate now? Weren't these questions settled in the 18th Century?

Then as I saw on Twitter today on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, apparently not. The monarchists are out in force with their asinine excuses for servility: well, the monarchy doesn't have any real power; it's
...more
Our Abiko
Jun 03, 2012 Our Abiko rated it it was amazing
As Our Man started this last night and and finished it this afternoon, he couldn't help but think how dated this argument is. Not that anything Hitchens said is not still true, it is, it's just that why are we still having this debate now? Weren't these questions settled in the 18th Century?

Then as Our Man saw on Twitter today on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, apparently not. The monarchists are out in force with their asinine excuses for servility: well, the monarchy doesn't have any rea
...more
John
May 05, 2013 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, essays
Let's face it: the British monarchy makes for a pretty easy target. You don't need someone like Hitchens to tell you it's an inherently flawed concept. That's not to say this isn't an enjoyable read...just a rather frivolous one.
Meg
Feb 14, 2014 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2014
HItchens. Applying his laser focus to the monarchy. Yes, of course it's going to be good.

Some favorite quotes from this one:

The only accurate nomenclature is the one that nobody employs - 'the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland'. The words express the hope of a political and historical compromise rather than the actuality of one. If it were to read 'The United State of great Britain and Northern Ireland' it would provoke unfeeling mirth. And the United Republic would sound pos
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John E. Branch Jr.
Working at a magazine that frequently banks on a fascination with British royals among the American reading public, I'm frequently provoked to ask myself two questions. Why haven't they gone away yet? Given that they haven't, why does the fascination persist? We in the U.S. dethroned the monarchy in our political system, for very good reasons that have been honored to greater or lesser degree in many other countries of the world, yet a large crowd among us later put it back on a pedestal from wh ...more
John Champneys
Aug 21, 2012 John Champneys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: satire, shorties
One day early in the morning I was feeling ever more broody as I mooned around the landscape of my Kindle. I’d been clicking and sniffing between books I could read next, in that horrible in- betweeny mood in which I found myself. I’d just finished reading the second volume of an excellent trilogy and I needed a break, a breather, a period of recuperation and recharge before plunging into the explosive third volume and it was in this ‘need a short, sharp break’ frame of mind that I browsed my 5- ...more
Mitchell
Oct 24, 2012 Mitchell rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
James
Jun 20, 2014 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Certainly the preservation of the monarchy into the modern age of Britain must seem an inapt and incoherent one, yet if it was kept merely for symbolic purposes, with public consent, I would see little cause for concern. Hitchens however appears to present the most compelling case for its abolition in his response to the royal objection that it only "lends tone" to politics, rather than actively shaping it. Indeed, for advocates of an ever-endangered system of democracy, the spectre of the royal ...more
CaldoHendo
Aug 29, 2015 CaldoHendo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A hereditary head of state, as Thomas Paine once said, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary physician or a hereditary astronomer. Christopher Hitchens does not quote the author of Rights of Man (one of his favourite thinkers) in this little pamphlet on the British monarchy, although he is not exactly short of arguments for scrapping the House of Windsor himself. The Paine quote instead comes in a funny essay he wrote twenty years after this book was published, which examined the terrifying ...more
Patrick Sherriff
Jan 11, 2015 Patrick Sherriff rated it it was amazing
Shelves: journailsm
As I started this last night and and finished it this afternoon, I couldn't help but think how dated this argument is. Not that anything Hitchens said is not still true, it is, it's just that why are we still having this debate now? Weren't these questions settled in the 18th Century?

Then as I saw on Twitter today on the occasion of the Diamond Jubilee, apparently not. The monarchists are out in force with their asinine excuses for servility: well, the monarchy doesn't have any real power; it's
...more
Craig
Apr 22, 2012 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hitchens
A handy, concise guide to the main arguments against the British monarchy. As relevant in 2012 as when originally published, perhaps more so in light of the vapid, fawning reception the institution is getting since The Wedding.
Poppy Nabokov
Neglects to explore the injustice of inherited privilege and the gender, ethnic and religious bias of the monarchy which is what I was hoping for.
Chantal
Over 20 years old but Hitchens’s polemic remains a cogent one.
Eric Wurm
Apr 19, 2013 Eric Wurm rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While a long-standing fascination and adoration of the British Royal Family seems to maintain it's standing, the author argues that it is not harmless, nor impotent, nor necessary. This pamphlet is a short but thorough polemic against the ideas of tradition, ceremony, hereditary rule, and religion in government.

This is one of Christopher Hitchens' earlier works, but the writing style and vocabulary leave nothing to be desired, much in the tradition of his latter works. It is witty, well-thought,
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Andrew Georgiadis
State-Sponsored Supersititon

A wonderful pamphlet in a classic Hitchens style: quick-witted, hyperliterate, and as such difficult to comprehend (it is steeped in news cycle of the moment circa 1990). Still, incredibly convincing in its argument against what any thinking person would oppose: undeserved, unearned adoration of inherited power. An ongoing disgrace and embarrassment, and not coincidentally a vibrant fetish of my home country of the United States.
Marcus
Apr 10, 2013 Marcus rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics, commentary
As a connoisseur of all things Hitchens I fully expected to love this book, which I presumed to be a dethroning of the British (English?) monarchy similar to his unveiling of Mother Theresa in Missionary Position. But considering the target rich environment that is monarchy in general (and the English monarchy specifically), I was surprised at how little oomph Hitchens packed into his pamphlet. And pamphlet it is: don't expect a 100+ page treatise on the evils of queenery. Considering the size o ...more
Stephen Curran
As the author points out, this pamphlet is not an argument for the abolition of the monarchy in the UK but, more accurately, an invitation to think: is it really all that impossible to imagine ourselves as a nation of civilians rather than subjects? The usual lucid commentary from Christopher Hitchins, but not as engaging as I had hoped.
Emil Petersen
Feb 05, 2016 Emil Petersen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is a pamphlet from 1990. It reads like a pamphlet. I am all against monarchies, so the sole star is not out of contrasting views; it's just that the critique is not very good. Imagine a slightly longer Vanity Fair article. Hitchens wrote tons of pages and not all of it is, understandably, worth reading.
Mario
Jun 20, 2014 Mario rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
No sólo los franceses, tambien los ingleses deberían seguir el ejemplo de los franceses. Hitchens lo tenía claro.
Carlos Burga
In all honesty I was surprised by how unpersuasive Hitchens’ argument was in this essay. Although he certainly makes some criticism of the monarchy, he wastes too much of the early part of the essay in presenting a problem that people either already recognize or won’t see until they starts seeing they hard criticism. Perhaps a longer essay may have tipped the balance towards his criticisms, but as it currently stands the reader is left with an arrested argument for the thought of perhaps maybe a ...more
Stig Aune
Feb 25, 2014 Stig Aune rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Brilliant sarcasm
Tom James
This kind of reminded me of a discussion my class had in A Level Sociology. Our teacher asked us to have a debate regarding the pros and cons of the monarchy, and as college students, we didn't even begin to touch the level of detail used by Hitchens.

All in all, it is a very honest critique of the monarchy, and yes I do understand what he is saying and why. All the same, it didn't completely change my view of the monarchy, and I am still indifferent towards the Royal Family.
Kent Winward
Aug 30, 2013 Kent Winward rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hitchens is always such a pleasure to read. His short takedown of the British Monarchy was exactly what the doctor ordered after all the royal baby news. Two quotes from the pamphlet shows why the short read was well worth it:

"Humans should not worship other humans at all, but if they must do so it is better that the worshiped ones do not occupy any positions of political power."

"Illusions, of course, cannot be abolished. But they can and must be outgrown."
Konstantinos Sapardanis
A forty page argument for the abolition of monarchy in the uk...
It seemed to me it's written for brits, as people and historical facts were displayed and mentioned with no context provided (or i just am too ignorant).
Anyway, it is a delight to read Hitchens as usual, it's just that the subject is too particular (although it is only 40 pages...)
James
May 29, 2012 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I probably would give four stars to this if I weren't already such a Hitchens' fan and hadn't seen much better stuff out there. But this is indeed Hitchens near the top of his game, with one liners -- allusions to literature, history, etc -- and more. It's by nature, slightly dated, but I'm glad to have read it, as I move toward reading all of his words.
Gavin Smith
Ah, always fun to read Hitchens tear into a subject when he's on your side. This is a short essay detailing the strange contradictions and blatant untruths that surround the culture of the monarchy in The UK. I expect it'll mostly be preaching to the choir but Hitchens always did that so well.
Jan-Len
Dec 08, 2014 Jan-Len rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unnecessarily dense.
Virginia
Dec 12, 2013 Virginia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I still miss Christopher Hitchens. I'd love to read his essay on the death of Nelson Mandela - I mean, I simply DON'T KNOW what his "take" would have been. His family and close friends probably do. Anyway, I'm a secret monarchy admirer, but you can't beat Hitchens for iconoclasm!!
Jacks Aradio
May 23, 2015 Jacks Aradio rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short but clever portrayal of the absurdity of the English monarchy in the present day. Best line said it all with they call it the National Debt but the Royal Treasury.
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Christopher Eric Hitchens 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 talk shows and lecture circuits. He was ...more
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