Customer Reviews for

Letters to a Young Contrarian

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2002

    voila

    If these are the only responses Hitchens managed to provoke, then I have a reason to first laugh myself silly and then lament at the hopelessness of our mighty, yet tragically flawed human race. I am sure Hitchens¿ shares my sentiments reading these. The first four reviews are banal to the point of being worthless, but by the time you get to Kirkus, they start to either make completely misguided jabs at him or offer him praise of cosmic proportion. Without further a due, let the butchering begin! Dear Kirkus, Although you may find Hitchens¿ work a lame muse full of trifle advice, may I remind you that the work is intended for a young and, therefore, an inexperienced contrarian. A seasoned fox like yourself ought to know better just from reading the title. Perhaps, some Letters to an Old Contrarian will suit to your liking, but unfortunately Hitchens has yet to provide such a luxury. Dear Ted, The whole point of the book is to emphasize the value of dissent in itself, and to encourage you to think for yourself. If you have truly accepted that message then you have no reason to whine about not being given an answer on whether there is a difference between Democrats and Republicans. Meanwhile, I scorn your remark that Hitchens attachment to justice may be based on financial greed. If you still have complaints about the practicality of this book - well, I want to welcome you to the world of that useless thing called philosophy. It¿s spelled Teresa by the way. Dear Jonathan, Do not compare Hitchens to Socrates. There are two important reasons for this. First, to offer such a comparison is to indulge the former in the greatness of the latter. Second, Socrates was NEVER a devout follower of the common good. Foremost on his mind was pursuit of knowledge and wisdom, each for its own sake. He shied away from the political life of Athens and spent most of his life wearing a dirty window curtain while gazing at the heavens above. When he did question others, it was only for the sake of advancing his own knowledge. I highly recommend you reread your Apologia. Hitchens, on the other hand, is an undying servant of justice and the common good. His knowledge, wisdom, and rhetoric are only means to achieving material results in the barricades of Bastilles. Dear mystical reviewer, Hitchens nowhere attempts to excuse King¿s adultery, but merely suggests that our `idols¿ are human after all. It also inserted as a stab at religion, since it points to a simple fact that God did not choose King for his moral upstanding to serve the divine. Rather, it was King who chose his path and his own moral actions. King¿s fallibility and, therefore, humanity provide a glimmer of hope for Hitchens of being one day being revered as the former.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2001

    What does Hitchens stand for anyway?

    'Letters To A Contrarian' is really a book of letter Hitchins writes to himself about, primarily, how to maintain his radical values. It is really a book about who Christopher is. His books are perhaps the most interesting and original books (who else would vilify Mother Theresa and Henry Kissinger?) written on current history and politics; yet the most irrelevant too. Hitchens is extremely bright (even in an extremely bright profession) , controversial, radical, iconoclastic, educated, experienced, and still astonishingly irrelevant. One time he is taking on Mother Teresa, then appearing as a leftist on C-SPAN against his conservative British brother, then he turns up on Charlie Rose saying he is a libertarian, then he writes regularly for The Nation (while preferring globalization), and finally he applauds an article in the National Review or the Weekly Standard. This latest book is the most scattered of all amounting to little more than a general pep talk about how to keep up your radical credentials (don't follow the crowd, etc.), or, how to be Christopher Hitchens. Being so independent, cool, intellectual, and affected (unshaven, trench coat, chain smoking, intellectual verbal cadence) may be good for ones' image and career but how does it really help the reader who time and again is given only the choice of voting for a Democrat or Republican? In the beginning there was Thomas Jefferson arguing for freedom and Alexander Hamilton arguing for Government. Today the Democrats and Republicans are still arguing about the same issue, while Mr. Hitchens is oddly arguing about something else not even defined, let alone on the ballot? Why doesn't he write a book on why Trent Lott and Sam Daschel have split the United States gov't along stupid or irrelevant lines? Why doesn't he address the issue every American faces every time he enters a voting booth? In truth, the more relevant and central an issue is to World History the more Mr. Hitchens stays away from it. So, if you want to be a proud but harmless radical, read this book. But, please consider that when you are done, like Marlon Brando in 'The Wild Ones' you'll still have to figure out what it is that you want to be radical about, if that should matter to you at all. The scattershot Hitchins/Brando approach is just not relevant to the choice voters face. The non-intellectual mass media keeps America divided and in the middle because that is how the they make the most money and find the biggest audience while the very intellectual Christopher Hitchens does the same thing because that is how he too makes the most money. Or, perhaps in an existential world 'cool and independent' has a value all by itself? But, if you want to read a book that seeks to be relevant as much as this book seeks to avoid relevancy try 'Understanding The Difference Between Democrats And Republicans'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2013

    A World Class Academic

    Excellent; that is all...just excellent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2011

    Quick and Enjoyable

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2001

    Hitchens Hits, Misses

    This thin volume caught my eye after seeing it reviewed some weeks ago. Hitchens writes well and perspicuously and hits his mark on several occasions. His advice to the 'young contrarian' to simply be himself, maintain skepticism, and avoid giving in to those who would silence him with the accusations of being 'divisive' or 'judgemental' was excellent reading. Hitchens' references and allusions to historical events, authors, and anecdotal experiences kept my interest, not to mention showed off the breadth of his knowledge and experience. However, he is not without flaw. He seems pre-occupied with the issue of race, perhaps a carryover from his days of 60s radicalism. Particularly, two instances had me shaking my head. His attempt to excuse Martin Luther King's adultery on the 'imminence of death' with which King lived is pathetic. Hitchens should take his own advice and 'suspect [his] own motives, and all excuses.' Another example of how race so occupies Hitchens' mind is his quip on a trip to Africa when 'not one person failed to wish me luck in darkest Africa....' He assumes these remarks were racist, not envisioning the true origins of the phrase actually refer to darkness as a synonym for the unknown or undiscovered. So I did enjoy Hitchens' advice and defiant attitude, except for some of the 60s leftist leftovers that dissonantly jump forth from the page from time to time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2001

    some much needed intelligence

    In ancient Athens, Socrates would work his way through the agora questioning his fellow citizens on a varity of topics on which they claimed to have knowledge such as virtue, baravery, or piety. It generally took a very short time before Socrates had demonstrated to them that in reality they knew very little. Regardless of their position, the great dialectician could unravel their beliefs, and point out every inconsistency and absurdity. Christopher Hitchens does the very same thing. Thinking beyond the limits of such categories of 'left' and 'right', Hitchens artfully shows the reader how vital it is to see through the absurdities of political, ethical, and philosophical convention. He is indeed one of the last bastions of true critical thinking, and one of the few writers who seems to live by the old newspaperman's credo of 'no fear, no favor.' Hitchens shows the nobility of being a gadfly, but does so without the empty bumpersticker slogans one is apt to find on the back of a rusty Subaru. Hitchens is a solid and thought provoking thinker whose prose is tough as nails. Well done sir.

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