Martin's Reviews > Letters to a Young Contrarian

Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
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's review
Dec 29, 2010

really liked it
Read from December 26 to 28, 2010 — I own a copy , read count: 1

This book has what you always wanted: to have Christopher Hitchens as your own personal epistolarian, the king of pen pals. There is also the added bonus of not having to expend effort writing replies as these are already presumed by Hitch.

A contrarian is perhaps what Hitchens would describe himself as, essentially someone who argues against a majority, established opinion. What is contained in this book is a series of letters from Hitchens giving his advice and experience from a lifetime as an intellectual and radical public figure to unnamed "student" of his. There are lessons on how to think for yourself, who or what to be suspicious of, suggestions of books to read, how to cope with attacks (such as the charge of elitism) and how to effectively get your point across, among other topics discussed. "Lessons" is perhaps a misleading term, though all of these tools of the contrarian were discussed in his usual, highly readable and engaging writing style, I could hear his voice ringing defiantly around inside my head.

There was also a brief touching on religion, as you would expect, though obviously not in as much detail as God Is Not Great, the only other full length work of Hitchens that I've read (and greatly enjoyed I would add). Sitting on my shelf staring at me just now is the smoking figure himself, on the cover of his latest book, his memoir Hitch 22, which I now eagerly look forward to consuming in the next few weeks.

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