Any fan of Christopher Hitchens should own this work. Letters to a Young Contrarian is a reservoir of wisdom and insight that never dries nor tires. While it’s best to never entirely agree with any single person Hitchens offers a way in which to view and tackle the world that champions honesty and fact. The problem with this assessment though is that it is preaching to the choir, to borrow a religious metaphor. Christopher’s “letters” are best read by the opposition, especially those that disagree with his anti-theism and anyone looking to uncover reasoned world-views in light of individual and Global issues.
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I’ve taken my time reading Christopher Hitchens’ Letters to a Young Contrarian. The main reason is to ring in 2012 on a positive note of reason. If one were to draw out a main point/challenge to the reader it would be: to think better (if not differently). This feeds into to a constant assessment of the status quo and to give all things (especially tradition) a fair shake against the better forms of ourselves found in logic and human decency. The empowering sense in tackling ancient regimes and lies with true conviction makes 2012 another year worth ardent living and unflappable courage.
We still inhabit the prehistory of our race, and have not caught up with the immense discoveries about our own nature and the nature of the universe. The unspooling of the skein of the genome has effectively abolished racism and creationism, and the amazing findings of Hubble and Hawking have allowed us to guess at the origins of the cosmos. But how much more addictive is the familiar old garbage about tribe and nation and faith.
-Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian
Christopher Hitchens delivers a detailed diagnostic on a hero of literature, politics, and social consciousness. George Orwell’s life and writings are as valuable and prescient as ever, possessing a timeless quality. A portion of the work is difficult to follow unless your knowledge of British arts and movements is thorough. Yet that doesn’t detract from enjoying Orwell’s offerings and Hitchens’ analysis. Hitchens clearly exposes the facts and facets of the Orwellian legend and uncovers his future-thinking on social agendas and relationships, and in his faulty stances regarding homosexuality.
Orwell is a decent lion of England.
Christopher Hitchens’ portrayal of Thomas Jefferson is a different kind of biography. He presents a man of contradiction that is completely human. It’s not the kind of hero-worship that glances over the slavery, Native American lands conquest, rivalries, or mistakes; rather they are captured to develop an engaging complex character. If anything can be said on the side of hero-worship it would be that Hitchens revels in the brilliant American Enlightenment that Jefferson sparked and supported, his policies that forever changed the Nation, his ability to turn a phrase/paragraph, and especially in Jefferson’s love of women, agriculture, viticulture, and knowledge.
Hitchens is more of an essayist than novelist and the book’s chapters often read as such. Jumping from topic to topic but still reflecting on past events as informing the next. He doesn’t dwell on any one topic too long or over analyze. His authorial abilities clearly maintain solid story movement. As can be expected Christopher Hitchens weaves a thought provoking work that will edify and amuse.
Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is a work I think most should offer to themselves in an effort to challenge, learn, and discover. As an American, in a lucky class, I live (as much as anyone else) in a comfortable bubble. My reading tends to focus on classical literature and fiction, but there’s a great deal of history & science to be explored. Hitchens’ does a tremendous job bringing reason to bear unto current and past events and ideologies.