The Reading Room

For The Sake Of Argument

New re-release of Christopher Hitchens volume of essays…

sakesSeldom does a doormat look more appealing than today’s postal delivery; the latest edition of the Times Literary Supplement and a book by my favourite author. Christmas, had indeed, come early.

December 2014 sees the re-release of two volumes of essays by the late, and in our opinion, very great Christopher Hitchens. ‘For The Sake of Argument’ and ‘Prepared For The Worst’ have been published in paperback by Atlantic Books with each copy running to some 400 pages.

Quite why it has taken this long to re-release Hitchens earlier works remains a mystery. If anything, his stock has grown since he died on December 15th 2011 and his literary criticisms rank amongst his finest works. Towards the end of his life he was best known for his stance against religion, Clinton and Kissinger. He pulled no punches, nobody was ‘out of bounds’ for The Hitch. Mother Theresa was also lambasted, and when she publically cast her own self doubts about her Lord, Hitchens attack on her and her methods were, to a large degree, vindicated.

Here at Retro Culturati we prefer his essays and literary criticisms, he wrote with alarming speed and ease, his prose was legendary. Writing for publications such as Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, Times Literary Supplement, Slate, The New Statesman and Free Enquiry amongst others he set the bar for others to reach. His range of subject matter was extraordinary, in this volume he covers Churchill, Nixon, Goya, Wodehouse, PJ O’Rourke, Neil Kinnock, Graham Greene, the Kurds and Costa Ricans amongst many others.

For those who have a fundamental opposition to Hitchens, and there are many, there is still plenty in this and his other volumes for any fair-minded reader to appreciate. His writing style was unique, he wasn’t an apologist and he believed dearly in freedom of expression, however distasteful for others. His writing, like his manner was always full of charm and wit but always with an underlying sense of danger and controversy, he played the game when it suited him but he bent the rules in his favour.

These essays, written in the late 1980s and early 1990s serve as a unique reference point in world history at that time, Hitchens provides both an incisive and stinging portrayal of the political and cultural elite, the harsh reality of the down-trodden as well as the glorious self-justification of the cigarettes and the booze. For others it will serve as a lesson in journalism and an appreciation of the English language which was surely his greatest and most enduring love affair.

First published in 2000, this edition published in Great Britain by Atlantic Books, London. ISBN: 978 1 78239 464 8

2 replies »

  1. Great article!
    Hitchens wrote sublimely and with ease, agreement with his argument is not a prerequisite to enjoy, marvel and learn from his essays.
    We’ll not see his like again I’m sad to say, we can though take joy in his thankfully prodigious output
    Erich Stinnes

    Liked by 1 person

    • Erich,
      Welcome to the site and thanks for your comment. I agree, one’s political persuasion should not be allowed to muddy the water when reading his essay’s, particularly those of a literary nature. His use of language is wonderful, it is well written but engaging too. His death was a tradgedy in as much that it is one less of those who dare speak up for what they believe. God knows we need more of them.
      Cool name by the way!


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