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For the Sake of Argument: Essays and Minority Reports

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  188 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
The global turmoil of the last few years has severely tested every analyst and commentator. Few have written with such insight as Christopher Hitchens about the large events — or with such discernment and wit about the small tell-tale signs of a disordered culture.

For the Sake of Argument ranges from the political squalor of Washington, as a beleaguered Bush administration
Paperback, 368 pages
Published September 17th 1994 by Verso (first published 1993)
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Patrick McCoy
Sep 24, 2011 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Actually I got Christopher Hitchen's book of essays, For The Sake Of Argument, as a primer of his various positions (political and cultural) before reading his autobiography Hitch-22. However, I only read about a third of the essays before reading his memoir and then put it down for a while. So I recently picked it back up and finished the essays. Dare I say I enjoyed much of it and was influenced by his opinions in several areas.

Most of these essays appeared previously in publications like The
Lucas Johnson
Jan 30, 2016 Lucas Johnson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yet another marvelous, punchy addition to my library. I like the verbal fisticuffs and improvisation that characterizes Hitchens' earlier work. I look forward to an Everyman's Library collection of the Hitch. It would certainly be cheaper than gathering together some of his out-of-print work.
Mar 04, 2014 Scott rated it really liked it
Wow-- what Hunter S Thompson might have been, were it not for his copious use of mind-altering drugs. At times snarky and vicious, with a gift for clearing the bullshit away in one sentence, only to delve into vitriolic rancor the next.Chris really challenges you to give up then notion that you might actally know what goes on in government. After reading George Crile's "Charlie Wilson's War", and in light of the Iran-Contra affair, nothing, however preposterous it might seem, is unthinkable. P.S ...more
Matt Young
Aug 20, 2012 Matt Young rated it really liked it
Aside from being an outspoken anti-theist. Hitchens was primarily an essayist in the tradition of Orwell, commenting on any facet of society he laid his eye on. Particularly, this collection dances around politics and international conflict, something the author knew very well. These essays are excellent op-ed pieces in Hitchens' dry, British style.
Mar 07, 2012 Craig rated it really liked it
As with long-form essay writing generally, there's an acute problem here of impenetrable writing when the particular subject matter is of no interest to the reader. The quality of Hitchens ensures that the rest is entertaining and insightful, bordering on magical!
The disputant at his best, on a cross-section of topics ranging from modernist painters to 60's realpolitik. There's a foreshadowing of his latter works on Bojaxhiu and Kissinger, too.
Mar 13, 2014 James rated it really liked it
Another vintage essay collection of Hitchens. This takes place roughly 1989-1993. Some extremely interesting pieces but there were a few confusing and dated ones as well.
Norm Bowman
Jan 28, 2013 Norm Bowman rated it liked it
Shelves: brain-droppings
Has me rethink some of my stances of thought.
And buy a magnifying glass cause the print is hideously tiny.
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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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“Many things in this period have been hard to bear, or hard to take seriously. My own profession went into a protracted swoon during the Reagan-Bush-Thatcher decade, and shows scant sign of recovering a critical faculty—or indeed any faculty whatever, unless it is one of induced enthusiasm for a plausible consensus President. (We shall see whether it counts as progress for the same parrots to learn a new word.) And my own cohort, the left, shared in the general dispiriting move towards apolitical, atonal postmodernism. Regarding something magnificent, like the long-overdue and still endangered South African revolution (a jagged fit in the supposedly smooth pattern of axiomatic progress), one could see that Ariadne’s thread had a robust reddish tinge, and that potential citizens had not all deconstructed themselves into Xhosa, Zulu, Cape Coloured or ‘Eurocentric’; had in other words resisted the sectarian lesson that the masters of apartheid tried to teach them. Elsewhere, though, it seemed all at once as if competitive solipsism was the signifier of the ‘radical’; a stress on the salience not even of the individual, but of the trait, and from that atomization into the lump of the category. Surely one thing to be learned from the lapsed totalitarian system was the unwholesome relationship between the cult of the masses and the adoration of the supreme personality. Yet introspective voyaging seemed to coexist with dull group-think wherever one peered about among the formerly ‘committed’.

Traditionally then, or tediously as some will think, I saw no reason to discard the Orwellian standard in considering modern literature. While a sort of etiolation, tricked out as playfulness, had its way among the non-judgemental, much good work was still done by those who weighed words as if they meant what they said. Some authors, indeed, stood by their works as if they had composed them in solitude and out of conviction. Of these, an encouraging number spoke for the ironic against the literal mind; for the generously interpreted interest of all against the renewal of what Orwell termed the ‘smelly little orthodoxies’—tribe and Faith, monotheist and polytheist, being most conspicuous among these new/old disfigurements. In the course of making a film about the decaffeinated hedonism of modern Los Angeles, I visited the house where Thomas Mann, in another time of torment, wrote Dr Faustus. My German friends were filling the streets of Munich and Berlin to combat the recrudescence of the same old shit as I read:

This old, folkish layer survives in us all, and to speak as I really think, I do. not consider religion the most adequate means of keeping it under lock and key. For that, literature alone avails, humanistic science, the ideal of the free and beautiful human being. [italics mine]

The path to this concept of enlightenment is not to be found in the pursuit of self-pity, or of self-love. Of course to be merely a political animal is to miss Mann’s point; while, as ever, to be an apolitical animal is to leave fellow-citizens at the mercy of Ideolo’. For the sake of argument, then, one must never let a euphemism or a false consolation pass uncontested. The truth seldom lies, but when it does lie it lies somewhere in between.”
“Would you have wished more, or fewer, anarchists around in the Thousand Year Reich or any of the other fantasies of hierarchy?” 4 likes
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