Mortality by Christopher Hitchens


25 Critic Reviews

Our chief consolation is Hitchens' saucy, pugnacious, ever-bright prose.


On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his bestselling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next eighteen months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis.
Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.
MORTALITY is the exemplary story of one man's refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament. Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, Hitchens's testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.

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 4, 2012 by Twelve. 119 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Health, Fitness & Dieting, Professional & Technical, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
Peak Rank on Sep 23 2012
Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Mortality
All: 25 | Positive: 22 | Negative: 3

NY Times

Reviewed by CHRISTOPHER BUCKLEY on Aug 30 2012

It is, however, sobering and grief-inducing to read this brave and harrowing account of his “year of living dyingly” in the grip of the alien that succeeded where none of his debate opponents had in bringing him down.

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Reviewed by Colm Tóibín on Aug 31 2012

...the theme is death, his own death, and the voice in each piece changes slightly as death comes closer.

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Below average
Reviewed by Alexander Linklater on Aug 25 2012

It would not be right to suggest that these are among the finest essays that Hitchens produced. The duress under which they were written renders them sparer and less fluent than he was at his best.

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Publishers Weekly

Jul 30 2012

Hitchens’s powerful voice compels us to consider carefully the small measures by which we live every day and to cherish them.

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WSJ online

Reviewed by Henry Allen on Aug 31 2012

In "Mortality" the bonfire is starting to collapse on itself, as bonfires do. Lots of sparks flying up into the night, however.

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Reviewed by Heller McAlpin on Sep 05 2012

Our chief consolation is Hitchens' saucy, pugnacious, ever-bright prose.

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Star Tribune

Reviewed by Scott Parker on Sep 29 2012

While it's somewhat unnerving to read such concision from Hitchens, we read it for the same reason we've always read him: his daring wit and fully human voice, present as ever in death.

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Reviewed by Hugh Kramer on Oct 20 2012

Would that we all might emulate his noble example and confront the Grim Reaper with the same dignity, grace, wit and fearlessness of this staggering literary giant whose untimely passing at age 62 leaves a void impossible to fill.

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Washington Times

Reviewed by Martin Rubin on Oct 16 2012

in the end, Hitchens was too much the journalist to shy away from this story, which, albeit without his will, had found him, and this slim but intense book, packed with fearless and intelligent inquiry and meditation, is the result.

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NY Journal of Books

Reviewed by Vinton Rafe McCabe on Sep 04 2012

Mortality is largely culled from the essays on the subject of his illness...even greater traction by being assembled into a whole into this single, passionate, amazing volume exploring what Mr. Hitchens himself called “this year of living dyingly.”

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Toronto Star

Reviewed by Patrick Ryan on Sep 07 2012

Mortality is the opposite of a call for sympathy. It’s pure insight and it’s pure Hitch: cranky, unsentimental, dead on.

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LA Times

Reviewed by David Ulin on Sep 02 2012

...the great, transcendent moments in "Mortality" come when, by virtue of urgency or attention, Hitchens traces the broader textures of his diminishment.

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The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Justin Moyer

A fair amount of “Mortality” is unnecessary. After Hitchens’s death from esophageal cancer in December 2011, what could further bolster his reputation?

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The Independent

Reviewed by Lucy Popescu on Sep 16 2012

Writing was Hitchens's great consolation and, as to be expected, this account of his final year of "living dyingly" is searingly honest.

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The Boston Globe

Reviewed by Michael Washburn on Sep 10 2012

Hitchens does...train a mindful eye on the process of deterioration.

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Reviewed by Thornton McCamish on Sep 30 2012

Mortality shows that dying is part of life, too, in this case a life unflinchingly examined, right to the end.

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Reviewed by FRIEDA KLOTZ on Sep 16 2012

By turns shocking, intimate and astute, Mortality is a memoir like no other -- as he must have wished it to be.

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Mail Online

Reviewed by Craig Brown on Aug 18 2012

Hitchens brought the same energy to writing about death as he did to writing about life.

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London Evening Standard

Reviewed by Sarah Sands on Sep 06 2012

By the end of the book, one is left with Hitchens’s last breaths, still witty and thoughtful and refreshingly irritable.

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Chicago Sun Times

Reviewed by Bob Minzesheimer on Sep 27 2012

For Hitchens’ fans, those who loved his ideas or merely his style, “Mortality” is a way of saying goodbye.

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New Statesman

Reviewed by George Eaton on Sep 07 2012

Wit, irony, the consolations of philosophy – these are the reserves we draw on when medicine can do no more. And rarely were they more formidably deployed than by Hitchens.

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NY Daily News

Reviewed by Alexander Nazaryan on Sep 06 2012 feel his Oxfordian wit throughout this book, much as you did with nearly every essay and television appearance.

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Below average
Reviewed by Emen William Garcia

Mortality can very easily be depressing...Surprisingly, however, despite his sobering examples of the fragility of life and the inevitability of death, the book initially failed to incite any sort of intense emotional reaction.

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The Neff Review

Reviewed by LaVonne Neff on Sep 14 2012

Hitchens never allows his dying, however predictable and banal, to bore his readers.

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Leeds Student

Reviewed by Ben Meagher

If Mortality confirms his literary stamina and spirit, then it is also a testament to Hitchens’ unwavering character.

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Brian Lee Kloosterman Jr. 17 Feb 2013

Rated the book as 4 out of 5

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Curt LeClair 18 Feb 2013

Rated the book as 4.5 out of 5