Okay, so I will be the first to admit, I’m not an expert on Christopher Hitchens. I’ve read “Morality” and that’s it. I didn’t watch him on television or read his reviews or articles or anything. So basically, I am unbiased. I am not a fan. I am not a hater. I am just me 🙂
First of all…there is no doubting that this man was touched with brilliance. However, there is no doubting that he is a bit condescending as well. *However* taking it a step further, he seems well aware of both these traits and does not apologise for them. To be honest, that’s quite refreshing. At least he was not playing to the masses, nor was he in denial.
I think a lot of people expect this book to be an autobiography it is, in fact, a memoir. After I finished it, I read some reviews and it was a common complaint. There isn’t a lot of his life story here. It’s mostly about events that happened to him and his viewpoints. It’s exactly what a memoir should be and it’s somewhat annoying to see people down-rating the book because there wasn’t enough talk about how he was brought up and his family life.
This was interesting in so many ways. One of the things I find most interesting about Hitchens is that he can see both sides of an issue very clearly. He could and does argue each side, at times making it hard to choose, yet he makes no holds about where he stands. I don’t think he straddled very many fences. Having said that, he also has no problems admitting he isn’t dead set in his viewpoints and had no issue admitting that perhaps he got it wrong. If he started to see that something he believed in the past wasn’t working any longer, but the opposing side was, well hey ho, he had no problem saying so and joining their ranks. So often people, especially famous people, once they declare an alliance with something, refuse to budge from their viewpoints. Especially when it comes to politics. Hitchens seemed to have no problem saying, okay, this worked in the past, but it’s not working now…what can? His loyalty seemed to be in what he found to work at that moment. Now I realise that some might see this as a bad thing. I don’t. I wish more people were able to open their minds to other viewpoints and think about what might work instead of just being loyal to the idea of the past. So often we only look at an opposing viewpoint to point out what is wrong about it. It is rarely that one is confident enough to look at one and see what is right.
I especially liked when Hitchens talked about his religious beliefs and his Jewish history (he was an adult when he found out he was Jewish) near the end of this book. He seemed very open to the fact that although he was an atheist he was waiting for someone to prove him wrong. His talk of his Jewish background (or lack of, I suppose) and the culture really fascinated me. So much so that I plan on reading more about it.
The thing about his book is…well, I didn’t really like it. I listened to the audio and there is no doubt that Hitchens was an arrogant sod. If I had ever met him, I am quite sure I would have disliked him. But there is much to enjoy reading this book. Hitchens might not have been my ideal person, but he had a great mind and was very precise on presenting multiple viewpoints on different, important subjects. I would have hated to meet this man in a debate. But my oh my…I would have loved to watch him in one….
Until next time…
Buy it now Catch-22 by Christopher Hitchens