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Hitch 22: A Memoir

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  16,396 ratings  ·  1,249 reviews
#1 "New York Times" bestselling author and finalist for the National Book Award -- one of the most admired and controversial public intellectuals of our time -- shares his personal life story.
Most who have observed Christopher Hitchens over the years would agree that he possesses a ferocious intellect and is unafraid to tackle the most contentious subjects. Now 60, Englis
Paperback, 424 pages
Published April 1st 2011 by Atlantic Books (first published 2010)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  16,396 ratings  ·  1,249 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plato says that the unexamined life is not worth living. But what if the examined life turns out to be a clunker as well? Kurt Vonnegut: Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons

The Young Christopher Hitchens

This is my first time reading a Christopher Hitchens's book; of course, it is not my first exposure to Hitchens. He was a favorite of talk shows. (He followed his friend Gore Vidal's advice never to turn down a chance to be on TV.) He attended rallies and protests domestic and foreign. He wrote ince
Petal Eggs
Hitchens states that Clinton's famous statement on him not inhaling was correct. That he knew him at Oxford and that Clinton was allergic to smoke. This isn't true. I know by evidence of my own eyes and testimony from a rather involved participant that Clinton smoked huge joints and looked very happy about doing so! This has somewhat destroyed Hitchens' credibility although maybe increased the enjoyability of the book as I see if I can find any more 'errors'.

Hitchens, however, does mention Clin
Now this is a memoir worth reading! We are in the Age of Memoir, but so few deserve the time. Christopher Hitchens lived enough for 10 lives -- he was a revolutionary, journalist, provocateur, vagabond, contrarian, essayist, raconteur, socialist, intellectual, atheist and he loved a good Scotch.

Hitch, as his friends called him, started writing his autobiography when he turned 60. The story goes that in 2009 he was surprised to see the phrase "the late Christopher Hitchens" beneath a photo of hi
Paul Bryant
Dec 16, 2011 marked it as probably-never  ·  review of another edition
Stupidity and cruelty in high places can sleep a little easier now that Christopher Hitchens has gone. He was not so much a writer as a presence. He raised contempt to the level of high art. I may not have agreed with a whole lot of what he said but it gladdened the heart that he said it at all, and inspired the mind in the way that he said it. Complex sentences seemed to appear fully formed in his brain as he spoke. It was almost frightening. In the end he showed us how the good atheist dies. T ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
“I try to deny myself any illusions or delusions, and I think that this perhaps entitles me to try and deny the same to others, at least as long as they refuse to keep their fantasies to themselves.”
― Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir


“A poet's work is to name the unnamable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.”
― Salman Rushdie

There are just a handful of people I've never met, but who I miss every day since their death*:

Andrew Smith
I must admit that I was totally unaware of Christopher Hitchens until I was directed to watch a YouTube video showing him being interviewed by British journalist Jeremy Paxman. The interview was conducted in 2010, about a year before Hitchens was to succumb to cancer of the oesophagus. In the interview, I was impressed by his rather dispassionate acceptance of his imminent demise and also the fact that he appeared to be just about the most articulate person I’d ever heard speak. It seemed to me ...more
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
I first heard of Hitchens on the day of his death – in my defence I was still quite new to the UK and was just getting familiar with the intellectual life here (insert a self-mocking chuckle here). What I managed to gather from the news that day was that he was UK’s no. 1 atheist, so that immediately put him on my radar and when I bought a Kindle this was the first book I bought for it (it was also a Kindle Daily Deal). It was an updated edition which included a heart-felt introduction Hitchens ...more
Description: #1 "New York Times" bestselling author and finalist for the National Book Award -- one of the most admired and controversial public intellectuals of our time -- shares his personal life story.
Most who have observed Christopher Hitchens over the years would agree that he possesses a ferocious intellect and is unafraid to tackle the most contentious subjects. Now 60, English-born and American by adoption; all atheist and partly Jewish; bohemian (even listing "drinking" along with "dis
Abubakar Mehdi
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enter the word “Hitchslap” in the search box on Youtube, you’ll see thumbnail after thumbnail with the picture of a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, middle aged man who is delivering a “Hitchslap” to his opponents on and off stage. This is how I was introduced to Christopher Hitchens.
Born in Portsmouth, son of a naval officer and his beautiful young wife, Hitchens studied at Cambridge and Oxford before becoming a journalist and fulltime contributor to various magazines. Charming, eloquent, wit
Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
In March 2010, Rabbi David Wolpe debated Hitchens on the topic of (what else?) religion and eventually sputtered, "Don't interrupt me! I didn't interrupt you."

Hitchens smiled. "No, you weren't quick enough."

If that sort of delicious irony makes you swoon, you'll likely adore Hitchens' memoir. If that sort of disrespectful self-regard makes you seethe, you're unlikely to enjoy less than one page of it. I find myself in the middle, possibly the one and only Person On Earth Who Feels Moderately Abo
Will there ever be a time when I review a book of Hitchens' as a horrible piece of literature, or even a mediocre one, or even at middle-class level? Never say never, but I publicly reserve my doubts. By this point in my journey through his writing, he frightens me. It should be impossible for one to be so cunning, so witty, so ironic, so inteligent, so cultured and so literate, all in the same aprox. 2 pound mammal brain that most of us share. But, alas, here comes this giant of public intelect ...more
Kevin Shepherd
"Your ideal authors ought to pull you from the foundering of your previous existence, not smilingly guide you into a friendly and peaceable harbor."

Christopher Hitchens had a way with words. His memoir is a veritable treasure trove of ideological and intellectual affirmations. The story of his life, his adventure, reads somewhat like a Vonnegut novel (if Kurt were prone to wacky word games and frequent references to some of the best literature ever published). There wasn't a single sentence that
Nick Black
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nick by: slate, nyt
Shelves: likely-reread

good book, though. SHIT SHIT SHIT.
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listening to this on Audible greatly enhances an already great memoir because Hitchens had the most beautiful modulated voice - second only to Richard Burton, IMHO.
A.J. Howard
The first time I read Christopher Hitchens I thought he was completely full of shit. I don't remember the exact specifics, but I have a decent enough recall of the circumstances. My metaphorical cherry was popped by his "Fighting Words" column on Slate, and I can all but guarantee that that the topic was Iraq. This must have been at some point in the months immediately following the invasion, after the initial toppling-of-statues glow of liberation was beginning to wain. Since I had never read H ...more
Todd N
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, favorites
Who is the man who would risk his neck for a brother man? Hitch!
He's a complicated man and no one understands him but his mama. Chris Hitch!
Hitch is a bad mother--Shut your mouth!

All right, enough of that. This is an amazing book that I want everyone to read. To get an idea of how great it is -- finding out the identity of Deep Throat when it was still a closely guarded secret only merits a footnote in this massive memoir.

I picked it up because it was recommended to me by a lot of people. Usuall
Lisa Reads & Reviews
Hitchens was a curiosity. I sporadically followed his interviews and writing, admired his courage travelling to world hot spots and in the face of his own mortality, yet couldn't quite keep him pinned in any one category of intellectuals. Hitchens was an Anti: Anti-theist, Anti-fascist, Anti-totalitarian, Anti-Stalin, Anti-Zionist....I didn't follow him that closely, but the list goes on. I was curious as to whether I fundamentally agreed with him or not, given that many times I had agreed, and ...more
A brilliant memoir, with acidic wit and an encyclopedic description of everything. I am reminded slightly of Mencken, who had such a brilliant and acerbic way with words, and whose slight arrogance can be justified with their linguistic brilliance.
Aug 28, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir
Hitch -22, some confessions and contradictions, is an apt title for this book. Even though it starts like a regular autobiography and goes on to be one in the end, it’s not linear and complete. There isn’t so much of Hitchens private life there. Most of it deals with his political and social views: his convictions and reflections on democracy, totalitarianism, terrorism and religion and an explanation of his changing political views. There are great bits on his friends: Martin Amis, Salman Rushd ...more
Apr 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to this memoir fairly ignorant about Christopher Hitchens. I decided to listen to it having seen it as an Audible deal of the day offer. I’m very glad I did, and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in recent history, politics, and literature, and this despite finding some sections far more interesting than others.

In 2009 Hitchins was surprised to see the caption "the late Christopher Hitchens" beneath a photo of him. This reminder of his mortality inspired him to write this mem
Aug 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well, I went back and tallied it up and this is the seventh book by Hitchens that I have read (so far; and only if you count A Long Short War as a book, but it’s really more of a pamphlet). I keep up with his Slate column on a weekly basis and have read many Hitch articles in Vanity Fair and elsewhere. Despite being such a devotee, this is the first book I’ve rated five stars.

First, to address the complaint of a well-respected and prolific reviewer, Toe Knee, in his scathing attack of Thomas Je
Mark Desrosiers
Let's be honest here: this glowering Trotskyist sounded and looked convincing during the War on Terror, but I couldn't help but think he was the wettest sprocket-toady around. I used to love him, don't get me wrong: his public eviscerations of Mother Theresa, Henry Kissinger, and Bill Clinton made him the ballsiest of the rads, a ham-hock in our lefty cornflakes. But then 9/11 happened, and why was Hitch suddenly hanging out with lizards like Michael Chertoff and Paul Wolfowitz, while publicly b ...more
Koen Crolla
May 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, biography
I bought this book hoping to find out what leads a Marxist to adopt some of the more sociopathic stances of the American far right (or what leads an extremist wingnut to call himself a Marxist), and the answer is disappointing: there is absolutely nothing of substance behind the façade of pretentious vocabulary and pompous prose, and Hitchens' positions on basically anything (certainly politics, religion, and his bizarrely naïve infatuation with the US) are entirely determined by reactionary opp ...more
Dec 19, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hitchens truly was the greatest living essayist the English language ever knew. And it is also true that, had he not been born, we couldn’t have invented him. His departure was a great loss of our generation.
Jan 27, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’ve recently undertaken to complete all those half-read books lying about my room, or, at least, the ones I stopped out of distraction rather than dislike, and Hitchens’ memoir was the first one I decided to pick up. But perhaps I’d put it down for a reason. Hitchens writes with humor and passion and verve and allusion, but, goodness, over 400 pages his arrogance overwhelmed even me, and I'm a total Hitchens mark who in the first place eagerly bought the memoir of a man whose not so modest Fox ...more
Aug 31, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
The chief attributes were the references to the Amis clan. There wasn't much else but a bloviated rasping.

It may be fitting that I finished the book at a shopping mall, waiting for my wife. The structure of this memoir could strike one as a pitch. Maybe the mark finds forgiveness, maybe the neo-con conversion was genetic. The blood made him do it. I'll stop there.
John Jr.
Jun 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography, memoir
When I began freelance copyediting at Vanity Fair in 1999, Christopher Hitchens was one of the two contributors I most esteemed, the other being James Wolcott, and they’re still my two personal favorites. Until this year, I had read only one of Hitchens's books, God Is Not Great, and for some reason I wondered, despite the evidence of many of his columns, whether personal history was really one of his greater skills. Now I know it is. And I doubt whether he has any “lesser” skills.

In writing one
May 2013
I don't know if I'm ever going to finish this - I read most of it last August and still keep picking it up every now and again, reading 5 pages or so and deciding something else would be more interesting. So, half-way through the book, I'm going to write a response to it anyway (and general reflection and rant about related issues).

In many ways I agree with my friend Patrick's review. After the first few chapters, this isn't the side of Hitchens I find interesting: for the most part he i
Michael Perkins
I'm gong to be a dissenter here and say I found this book rather boring. I had to think a bit as to why. It was the plodding, factual style.

Hitchens is at his best when he is crosses swords with someone in debate. This comes through in his other books, Of the people I've seen, I think he was the best debater of his generation.

I grew up in a Republican, Roman Catholic household. I would not say we watched Willam Buckley's "Firing Line" religiously, but I saw enough of it. When I learned from his
Will Ansbacher
Jan 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, politics
I had actually just started reading this when Hitchens died. It’s a very dense read requiring extreme concentration as the literary and political allusions are thick on the pages. But it was well worth it as H is passionate about what he believes in and argues brilliantly. And the population density in this book (see the cast of characters in the blurb above)! It sounds like name-dropping but he knew virtually all of them.
He makes much of his split with the Left but much of that sounds rather li
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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
What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.” 603 likes
“What do you most value in your friends?
Their continued existence.”
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