A fascinating bio and always a pleasure to hear the man himself talk about anything really. I did listen to the audiobook, but I’m also quite glad I bought a paperback copy before that, as there are some really interesting observations I’d like to revisit – bookmarking audio is not as fun. I think the only issue with this recording – or any C. Hitchens (as opposed to P. Hitchens) – is that he had a habit of bold starts and gentle finishes, which makes for a hard listen if doing so in an environment with many disruptions, as it seems I was constantly putting the volume up or down so my ears didn’t explode. I rarely listen to audiobooks when at home as I’m usually distracted with other things that require my ears. Aside from that, the recording was perfect.
In terms of content, Hitchens had quite the life, and he was content to share the most heartbreaking aspects of it. His political beliefs morphed over time from the hard left to a more right-wing – some believe even as far as neo-con – as he became more aware of certain events, and I love the fact that he owns it in his usual nonchalant way. One of my favourite things about Hitch was the unapologetic nature of his beliefs and knowledge and the fact that he rarely got physically riled about anything, which made it much harder for his opponents who diverted into reeeeeee! territory to maintain credibility. Even when not agreeing with something he said, it is impossible not to love listening to what he left behind, and with the more solid understanding of where he came from and how he got to where he did, it makes the experience ever richer.
Recommended for those familiar with Hitch (I was pretty late to this party) but also those who have yet to delve into the massive back catalogue of his work and recordings. There are still great speakers out there even without Hitchens, but I think his age and experience of times that the younger generation (Douglas Murray, Sam Harris etc.) have not had, gave a more rounded opinion of the differences in society over the past half-century.
One of the biggest questions I was left with at the end of this book was I wonder what Hitchens would make of the world today, and I wonder what his solution would have been to so many of our challenges. Certainly there is a voice missing in these modern debates, but thankful we are to have been able to preserve it.