Matt's Reviews > Hitch-22: A Memoir

Hitch-22 by Christopher Hitchens
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Jan 18, 12

bookshelves: biography-memoir, non-fiction, war, travel, political
Read in January, 2012

There are times I read Hitchens and I'm blown away by his writing abilities, and then there are other times I think he's just trying to flex nuts... there were a good handful of those in his memoirs, hence the 3 stars. That said, the man is incredibly eloquent, and staggeringly well read.

A note: As an atheist, I would consider myself something of a Hitchens admirer, but I've had trouble reconciling his leftism with his support for the war in Iraq, and I have a few quick thoughts on that. Though the man seems to be mildly insecure and also a bit of a bully, I think he has some incredible integrity when it comes to issues of antitotalitarianism. This is at the root of his atheism (or anti-theism, as he calls it), and it is the common strand in most of his political stances. He was fair enough to condemn Stalinism rather than playing a game of coy apologetics with others on the left, and he has the balls to side with the U.S. when they do something right. That said, my sense was that Hitchens wasn't so much a neocon as he was an internationalist and, as a result, an interventionist. He admits in the book to being appalled by the incompetence of the Bush administration in Iraq, as well as ashamed of the looting of the Baghdad Museum, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and the absurd and sadistic Cheney policy around torture.

My point is: being for anti-fascist intervention shouldn't be looked down upon on the left. Is Iraq now better off than it was under Saddam? Who knows? It wasn't done properly, and that might lead to backsliding. But - and this is coming from a guy who decided he was left-wing at 16 when the Iraq Invasion first happened - I think his position in itself is admirable. His defense of the aftermath I chalk up to a mix of stubbornness and a realization that no war goes smoothly. At the end of the day, those of us on the left shouldn't disown Hitchens as one of ours. We shouldn't be a peacenik movement that doesn't stand up for right and wrong in the name of pacifism. While I don't totally agree with him on this and a lot of other things, the man deserves credit. His only serious blindness, as far as I can see, is in believing religion is the ROOT of the problem. It's an aspect, and this blindness might've pushed him to take some otherwise disturbing views.

Also, I loved hearing that he either read or hung out with my other two literary heroes: Vonnegut and Hunter Thompson. Rock on, Hitch.
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