Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
Essays by Christopher Hitchens

85%

27 Critic Reviews

... in reading this collection of his thoughts, immersing yourself in the particular turns of phrase and associations of Hitchens' wit, you suddenly realize something else: You're hearing his voice again.
-LA Times

Synopsis

@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1; } "All first-rate criticism first defines what we are confronting," the late, great jazz critic Whitney Balliett once wrote. By that measure, the essays of Christopher Hitchens are in the first tier. For nearly four decades, Hitchens has been telling us, in pitch-perfect prose, what we confront when we grapple with first principles-the principles of reason and tolerance and skepticism that define and inform the foundations of our civilization-principles that, to endure, must be defended anew by every generation.

"A short list of the greatest living conversationalists in English," said The Economist, "would probably have to include Christopher Hitchens, Sir Patrick Leigh-Fermor, and Sir Tom Stoppard. Great brilliance, fantastic powers of recall, and quick wit are clearly valuable in sustaining conversation at these cosmic levels. Charm may be helpful, too." Hitchens-who staunchly declines all offers of knighthood-hereby invites you to take a seat at a democratic conversation, to be engaged, and to be reasoned with. His knowledge is formidable, an encyclopedic treasure, and yet one has the feeling, reading him, of hearing a person thinking out loud, following the inexorable logic of his thought, wherever it might lead, unafraid to expose fraudulence, denounce injustice, and excoriate hypocrisy. Legions of readers, admirers and detractors alike, have learned to read Hitchens with something approaching awe at his felicity of language, the oxygen in every sentence, the enviable wit and his readiness, even eagerness, to fight a foe or mount the ramparts.

Here, he supplies fresh perceptions of such figures as varied as Charles Dickens, Karl Marx, Rebecca West, George Orwell, J.G. Ballard, and Philip Larkin are matched in brilliance by his pungent discussions and intrepid observations, gathered from a lifetime of traveling and reporting from such destinations as Iran, China, and Pakistan.

Hitchens's directness, elegance, lightly carried erudition, critical and psychological insight, humor, and sympathy-applied as they are here to a dazzling variety of subjects-all set a standard for the essayist that has rarely been matched in our time. What emerges from this indispensable volume is an intellectual self-portrait of a writer with an exemplary steadiness of purpose and a love affair with the delights and seductions of the English language, a man anchored in a profound and humane vision of the human longing for reason and justice.



 

About Christopher Hitchens

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Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate, and The Atlantic, and the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Orwell. He also wrote the international bestsellers god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitch-22: A Memoir, and Arguably. He died in December 2011.
 
Published September 1, 2011 by Twelve. 758 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 02 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Arguably
All: 27 | Positive: 25 | Negative: 2

Kirkus

Good
on Jul 05 2011

Vintage Hitchens. Argumentative and sometimes just barely civil—another worthy collection from this most inquiring of inquirers.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by BILL KELLER on Sep 09 2011

...some of the essays in this collection are exceedingly smug. He has no qualms about adding insult to injury...He repeats himself. Some of his work feels dashed off. A few pieces fall flat from an excess of trying.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Fintan O'Toole on Sep 16 2011

...huge but unargued claims makes for bad writing as well as bad politics.

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NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Vinton Rafe McCabe on Sep 01 2011

With nearly 800 to play around with, it is safe to say that any reader will find something to love and a good deal to like.

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Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard on Oct 06 2011

...Hitchens has lived an extraordinary life. He'll tell you all about it and challenge your perceptions. He might even infuriate you. In the end, however, it's one heck of a ride.

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LA Times

Good
Reviewed by Nick Owchar on Sep 28 2011

... in reading this collection of his thoughts, immersing yourself in the particular turns of phrase and associations of Hitchens' wit, you suddenly realize something else: You're hearing his voice again.

Read Full Review of Arguably: Essays by Christoph... | See more reviews from LA Times

The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Amol Rajan on Nov 06 2011

...the value of his prose comes from the depth of his conviction – often child-like in its clarity – and the startling breadth of his erudition. This is a man whose lifetime of reading oozes from each sentence.

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The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by Fred Inglis on Sep 23 2011

... he rings true against the gold standard for such writing, which is of course George Orwell's. He is as prodigal, as contentious, as dependably on the side of the oppressed, and he too is a prose master.

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Pajiba

Excellent
Reviewed by LurkeyTurkey on Jan 26 2013

The Hitchens approach is one of carefully thought out, well-reasoned, and eloquent (and often hilarious) design. His eye is keen, his wit is sharp...

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Phillip Lopate on Sep 04 2011

...Christopher Hitchens is at the top of his journalistic profession, and this collection commands our respect both for its flair and its ability to give pleasure.

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Open Letters Monthly

Above average
Reviewed by Steve Donoghue on Jan 26 2013

...almost from the first instant, the reader is once again subsumed in the patented Hitchens surround-sound schtick.

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Open Letters Monthly

Good
Reviewed by Jack Hanson on Jan 26 2013

Hitchens has brought to bear strong conscience, clear vision and the ability to say often exactly what is necessary.

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City Book Review

Excellent
Reviewed by Hubert O’Hearne on Nov 15 2011

...Whether his opinion of the subject material is good, bad or indifferent, he makes me want to read the book. I am thankful for having lived in his time.

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PopMatters

Good
Reviewed by Jaya Chatterjee on Jan 06 2012

...Arguably is a fine opportunity to take lessons (or umbrage, as it were) from the greatest polemicist since Dwight Macdonald, and one whose crackling wit, intellectual brio, and bracing candor will be missed.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Above average
Reviewed by Owen Richardson on Sep 17 2011

Wrong-headed he might be, disastrously so, but he is still worth arguing with.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Excellent
Reviewed by Richard King on Sep 10 2011

...Hitchens carries the ideals of liberty and equality forward into a new century. He does so brilliantly. There is no ''arguably'' about it.

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Independent.ie

Good
Reviewed by FRIEDA KLOTZ on Oct 16 2011

Whether you love or hate him, his provocative voice has steadfastly refused to take the beaten track...

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Boston.com

Good
Reviewed by Michael Washburn on Aug 28 2011

...Abraham Lincoln, water-boarding, and theocratic irrationalism have probably never appeared in the same book (let alone the same sentence), but Hitchens mounts stylish, spirited attacks or defenses of these and a hundred other topics.

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NJ.com

Excellent
Reviewed by Kathleen Daley on Sep 04 2011

No matter the topic, the magic of this anthology is that the reader yearns to read the works he cites, learn more and fantasize being able to debate with this brilliant man.

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Bookmarks Magazine

Good
Reviewed by Jon on Aug 29 2011

The essays and reviews in Arguably, even removed as they are from the context and timing of their original magazine publication, are passionate, scathing, witty, and always distinctly Hitchens.

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London Evening Standard

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarah Sands on Oct 06 2011

...every chapter is worth reading. Hitchens is a sublime conversationalist and the book is like a fantasy dinner with him.

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New Statesman

Excellent
Reviewed by John Gray on Oct 06 2011

Coming from one of the greatest living writers of English prose, Arguably is the testament of a prodigiously gifted mind.

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Spectrum Culture

Excellent
Reviewed by David Harris on Mar 11 2012

Arguably is a fitting testament to someone who just may very well be remembered as one of the foremost thinkers of these strange times.

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Decatur Daily

Above average
Reviewed by John Davis on Jun 11 2011

Hitchens, a man whose insights are well worth the time to observe, needs to be taken cautiously, however, since he can make his opponents into straw men, the better to deflate a false impression.

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The Times Literary Supplement

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Dirda on Dec 21 2011

What holds this book of disparate pieces together is, of course, Hitchens himself or, to be more exact, Hitchens’s presentation of himself on the page.

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World Literature Today (The University of Oklahoma)

Good
Reviewed by Robert Murray Davis on Feb 01 2012

...he makes interesting and often valid point...Even when he condemns, as in his discussion of Waugh, he can see virtues to mitigate faults.

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Bookmunch

Above average
on Nov 02 2011

...the scholarship is frequently excellent, although scholarship is perhaps not the right word for writing whose format is so dynamic and accessible.

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