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Arguably by Christopher Hitchens
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Arguably (2011)

by Christopher Hitchens

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1,019258,334 (4.13)51
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This has to be a five star book, if only for the gargantuan effort that it must have taken to edit such a work into existence.

I didn't always agree with Hitchens, and sometimes I was infuriated by his capricious mood when dealing for example with the apparent differences between American and Islamic imperialism, but he always entertained and, more importantly, prompted thought throughout this hefty tome.

I always find Hitchens at his best when dealing with religion, he seems learned in that field and gives interesting and arresting opinions to the reader, perhaps because I agree with much of what he says, but I hope not just because of that reason.

In one regard though I felt this book to be difficult and that is in the matter of audience. Hitchen's assumption of knowledge in the reader, of allusions and of references, is quite breathtaking. There is no explanation and not even a hint of an allowance for a less than perfect education in his reader, as my own surely is. I find that this is a turn off because there must surely be a pedagogical connection between essayist and reader for a transmission of knowledge to occur. That there is none here makes me suspect that Hitchens wrote almost exclusively for his educated circle and not for the likes of me.

I found the afterward, in contrast, to be warm and moving and this went someway to softening my reaction to the cold feeling that I got from some of the essays in this collection. I was deeply moved, probably with the hindsight that his death has engendered, by the obviously heartfelt thanks that he gave to his doctors and family - I don’t think I’ve read as genuine and human a dedication in a long time and it confirmed Hitchens as essentially a humanist, which is always agreeable.

Criticisms aside I can't find any other score than five full stars to be reasonable for this book – it’s a lifetime’s work and is a triumph of the modern mind. I will miss his analysis, if only as a yardstick to test my own prejudices and opinions against.
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2 vote MartynChuzz | Feb 22, 2016 |
Hitchens is never terse in his essays, and his wit is both fair and acerbic. You can read all of this, or most of it at any rate, outside of the book. It's just a collection, but a fun to read collection. ( )
  Michael_Rose | Jan 10, 2016 |
As a general rule, I love this author. He can say more in one sentence than most people say in a paragraph. I found this compilation of essays a little hard to understand (some of them) but still a book that I enjoyed reading. ( )
  avid1 | Nov 11, 2015 |
The saying "The pen is mightier than the sword" is more than apt when applied to the persuasive juggernaut that was Christopher Hitchens. If at some point in my life I achieve half the literary depth and eloquence Hitch exhibited, then I will consider my efforts a success. Sadly, Hitchens passed away just a few years ago from esophageal cancer, undoubtedly brought on by a lifetime of excessive drinking and smoking by his own admission. I will miss the ease at which he thumbed his nose, convincingly and shrewdly, at authority figures and topics considered revered by far too many people.

As a collection of essays, Arguably is way too long. That's the only strike against it. ( )
  Daniel.Estes | Mar 26, 2015 |
I give this collection of essays five stars not because I agree with everything Hitchens writes, but because the prose is just so appealing, so unabashedly readable and yet so deeply intellectual, all at the same time. Someone should give a copy of Hitchens's essays to every academic writer and intellectual in the world--maybe then they will realize that you don't have to be incomprehensibly dense in your prose to write about complex subjects. ( )
2 vote poingu | Jan 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 25 (next | show all)
So, having paid my dues to critical candor, I still find Hitchens one of the most stimulating thinkers and entertaining writers we have, even when — perhaps especially when — he provokes. And while he clearly wants to win you over, you always sense that he is playing in part to the jury of history, which is why so much of what he might, in a rare self-deprecating moment, refer to as hackwork stands up so well to ­anthologizing.
 
Hitchens is, and has been for many years, the mightiest knocker-down in argumentative journalism in the Anglophone world. This vast volume, containing ten years of argufying, is every bit as pugilistic, as unanswerable, as toughly rationalist, as unstoppable, as strenuously lived, as its many predecessors from his hand.
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christopher Hitchensprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Prebble, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Live all you can: It's a mistake not to."
— Lambert Strether, in The Ambassadors
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To the memory of Mohemed Bouazizi, Abu-Abdel Monaam Hamedeh, and Ali Mehdi Zeu.
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The three names on the dedication page belonged to a Tunisian steet vendor, an Egyptian restaurateur, and a Libyan husband and father.
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Essayist Christopher Hitchens ruminates on why Charles Dickens was among the best of writers and the worst of men, the haunting science fiction of J.G. Ballard, the enduring legacies of Thomas Jefferson and George Orwell, the persistent agonies of anti-Semitism and jihad, the enduring relevance of Karl Marx, and how politics justifies itself by culture--and how the latter prompts the former.… (more)

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