Christopher Hitchens is an immodest man with much to be immodest about, but can his Letters to a Young Contrarian be anything more than. Christopher Hitchens offers them the wisdom of a seasoned campaigner. Letters to a young contrarian. The spirit of may be a distant. Hitchens, a columnist for the Nation and Vanity Fair, and author, most recently, of The Trial of Henr.

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One should envy the experiences of this man; well, most experiences. A witty and anecdotal window into Hitchens’ propensity to take contrarian positions. Hitchens was a polemicist and yonug. But it would be a shame if would-be contrarians were to know their teacher only as someone going on, as he puts it, ‘like a whiskered veteran’.


It is delicious because it showcases Hitchens at his most savage and wise he reveals a warm spot for the under-appreciated utopian radicalism of William Morris and his circle. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. How happy I am that these letters were not exclusive to his students but how sad am I that I was not among them. Among the things to admire in him is his lack of hypocrisy. He therefore proposed living “as if” he were a citizen of a free society, “as if” lying and cowardice were not mandatory patriotic duties, “as if” his government had signed which it actually had the various treaties and agreements that enshrine universal human rights.

Indeed, the supply of enemies to rail against seems endless. I loved Hitch before Iraq 2.

No other writer has matched Hitchens’s understanding of the importance of disagreement–to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress, to democracy itself. They thought that they were defending an organic, harmonious and ordered society against nihilism, and they deployed this contemptuous word against those they regarded as the diseased, the introspective, the disloyal and the unsound. View all contraarian comments.

Letters to a Young Contrarian : Christopher Hitchens :

Everybody devises tactics for getting through such moments; try behaving “as if” they need not be tolerated and are not inevitable. Hitchens duly breaks his word and Amis attempts to break his shins.

There’s probably a lot more to this list, but that’s enough to be going on with. The book also contains some of the critiques of religion and religious belief which Hitfhens would later develop in his polemic God Is Not Great: I was myself “of” this period, and have witnessed some truly marvellous moments at first hand. Hitchens was his own man. Indeed, I read this magnificent little collection of jitchens of advice written to no one in particular but everyone in modest and solemn re Death hath wrought a pernicious dent in the erudite and intellectual world; Hitchens will not be one to be soon forgotten, nor ever replaced but emulated, definitely.


As a species, we may by all means think ruefully about the waste and horror produced by war and other forms of rivalry and jealousy. When such a precious and irreplaceable word as “irony” has become a lazy synonym for anomie, there is scant room for originality.

To ask other readers questions about Letters to a Young Contrarianplease sign up. One of the hardest things for anyone to face is the conclusion contrraian his or her “own” side is in the wrong when engaged in a war. Letters shows Hitchens’s best and worst sides. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence.

Cover of the first edition. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant and selfish.

Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens

Despite its short length pages I found myself constantly going back over passages this book has a ton of great quotes. What is shameful though, is holding a minority viewpoint and conceding to your detractors on that basis. In short, here’s a guy who has seen petters than you or your most well traveled friend ever will and has everything to say about it. Want to Read saving….

Letters to a young contrarian

The mark of a great writer, even if only a writer, at that. Hitchens examines the fine points of questioning all authority, whether it be statist, political party, religious, the media, and the masses; no dogma goes unchallenged.

Quotes from Letters to a Youn His talent for making people look stupid is enviable. Likhesh Sharma It is because “what you think” that is things you know might change you might start believing something opposite of what you used to believe for …more It is because “what you think” that is things you know might change you might start believing something opposite of what you used to believe for example like people changed their mind about geocentrism but that would not make you a slave if Ideas.


While he was once identified with the Anglo-American radical political left, near the end of his life he embraced some arguably right-wing causes, most notably the Iraq War. Worth a quick read for quotation extraction — maybe I’ll add some this weekend — but I doubt I’ll be reading much more of him.

So why does this clever, epigrammatic little book leave me, a long-standing admirer of Hitchens, feeling disappointed? Other books in this series. I nearly hit upon the word “dissenter” just now, which might do as a definition if it were not for certain religious and sectarian connotations.

Inspired by his students at The New School in New York City and “a challenge that was made to me in the early months of the year ,” [1] the book is addressed directly to the reader —”My Dear X” [2] —as a series of missives exploring a range of “contrarian,” radical, independent or “dissident” positions, and advocating the attitudes best suited to cultivating and to holding them.

It just unfortunately didn’t happen enough for me. He was unabashedly Eurocentric while claiming not to be. Hitchens touches on his own ideological development, the nature of debate and humourthe ways in which language is slyly manipulated in apology for offensive and ridiculous positions, and how to see through this and recognise it whenever it arises in oneself.

The thing I love about Hitchens is the fact that no matter what you think about him, he has lived a full life. To be a contrarian you have to be prepared to: Books by Christopher Hitchens.

I found the format of the fictional letters to be quite disconcerting, only having one side of the fictional conversation, and it seemed quite pompous at times without good reason to be. Letters to a Young Mathematician Ian Stewart. But the latter term is probably the superior one, since it makes an essential point about thinking for oneself.