Sunday, June 27, 2010

HITCH-22 - Christopher Hitchens

This is a fascinating memoir from the former far left journalist, who over the years has moved to the right but has not become a venerable old Tory, rather a 'secular liberal', which is not a bad place to be.

The book starts with a synopsis of his parents and his childhood. His mother who died young by her own hand and a father he was never that close to. He attended Oxford and appears to have spent the majority of his time protesting,arranging protests and finding causes that need some protesting.

He was at this stage what would appear to me to be rather an "insufferable little shit" but very,very clever non the less. He was from an early age exceptionally well read and probably brilliant, although his results at Oxford do not reflect this.

He is very honest about his university days certainly having no false modesty when he admits, he was an "very pretty young man" and was not adverse to a quick one off the wrist with any male who was attracted to him.

Through his early Marxist background he met most of the intellectual left in Britain and for many years was one of them.

Unlike most of the intellectual left Hitchens travelled to the country's that were hot spots of revolution and senseless violence rather than just sitting and talking theory and so gradually his views have changed. They have changed to the extent that he was a very vocal advocate of the invasion and over throwing of Saddam Hussein.

What I particularly liked about this is that there is no real black and white, Hitchens realises that our world is many shades of grey and he is honest enough to view both side of all issues before making a judgement.

He really has met a lot of remarkable people, Agatha Christie (anti-Semitic), was in Bill Clintons year at Oxford (he didn't inhale , but ate the dope, he was allergic to the smoke), a great friend of Martin Amis and his father and many many others.

This memoir is well worth the effort,but if you ever meet him for God's sake do not address him as Chris, he doesn't like this and he devoted several hundred pages to the fact (a slight exaggeration, and I have told you a million times not to do that).

He is now married and a resident and citizen of the United States, still writing, for Vanity Fair I am sure of and I think The Atlantic as well.

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