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Hitch-22: A Memoir

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  14,480 Ratings  ·  1,130 Reviews
Paperback, 434 pages
Published June 3rd 2011 by Twelve (first published 2010)
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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
Petra Eggs
Update: Look what I just found! A story in the NYPost about my little anecdote. I like he went out with the lesbian girlfriend of my friend. I don't think he ever knew the truth about Bill and inhaling. He just guessed.


Ok, I've pussyfooted around this long enough with teasing comments. Tell-all time.

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
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 assorted-rants-about-stuff  ·  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
Dec 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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*:

Hitch 22 is more of a survey and opinion of modern history than a memoir. In part this is due to the spectacular public life that Hitchens has led, but it doesn't feel like an account from someone who has led a life at all. For someone who holds passionate and often (though not always) beautifully supported opinions, Hitchens presents his own life in a very detached manner. There is bountiful name dropping of really only public figures. His family of origin is sparsely mentioned, his current wif ...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
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.
Ana  Vlădescu
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
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
Jillian Haas
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, non-fiction
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.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
Aug 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
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 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
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, fiction
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
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
Sep 04, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been holding off on this one because it's a serious work that cries out for a detailed review, but I'm just not going to do that. Instead, I'll say that, as usual, Hitch made great points, even in cases where I disagree with his specific premise - Paul Wolfowitz is not someone I can respect, sorry, in spite of Hitch's pointing out that the guy's background is far from anti-Islamic, etc. There's quite a bit of name-dropping, but ... hey ... he moved in quite lofty circles.

Definitely recomme
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.
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
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
Sep 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've discovered that there is nothing quite as entertaining as watching Christopher Hitchens take part in (and win) a debate. I insist you search for such a debate on YouTube (they are plentiful). After coming upon this witty and ingenious man through YouTube videos, I wanted to know more about him. And, voila: Hitch-22.

Beginning with his family roots and ending with his struggle to find his political identity as well as to come to terms with mortality (and containing in-between his education, p
Apr 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this autobiographical book. I listened to a full length copy read by the author who not only has a lovely reading voice but soft and intimate tones. The book itself is revelatory and personal of course, but his manner of reading was charming as well as intimate. (I'm usually not wild about authors reading their own books, but in this case I can't imagine anyone could have done it better.)

I don't review what he said since most of you have read it. I hadn't read anything by Hitchens except
Aug 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an absolutely engaging, and breathtakingly hilarious memoir by a man whose life parallels mine, except he's a well-known intellectual and lifelong activist, and I'm just an ersatz brainy mover. We were born in the same town, the same year; we speak with the same slightly plummy accent and became Americans at the same time. We both drank and smoked our way through adventures (I quit the fags many years ago, FYI friends), but in the process he mingled and was friends with famous politician ...more
Kevin Kizer
May 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've been eagerly anticipating this memoir. Great read! Hitchens truly is a great writer with a unique voice.
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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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What is it you most dislike? Stupidity, especially in its nastiest forms of racism and superstition.” 538 likes
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