Christopher Hitchens - Arguably
- Brian Donaldson
- 16 September 2011
Stellar collection of essays from the outspoken journalist
As Christopher Hitchens movingly concedes in the intro to Arguably, he writes each new slice of social, political and cultural commentary as though it may be his last. While others would have disappeared within their shell at having received a cancer-shaped death sentence from their doctor, Hitchens uses it as an incentive to make his next bit of writing fly higher than the last. And as this collection proves, for Hitchens, the ground upon which poignancy and exhilaration meets is a fertile one indeed.
As he noted in his memoir Hitch-22, and does so again here, the Janus-like qualities that allow his opinions to shift across varying contexts are not a sign that he wants to have his cake and eat it; he is just open-minded enough to realise that dogma and entrenchment are less than valuable tools to wield when the world continues to offer up new tests on such a regular basis. For some, his pro-Iraq War stance will always be a bridge too far, but he is not a politician and does not hold that view for economic gain: he is simply and resolutely against brutal tyrants wherever they show their nasty faces.
Hitchens is not content to sit in his bunker and pontificate from afar, instead getting down and dirty with the best of them. This results in subjecting himself to a spot of waterboarding in the North Carolina hills, or taking a Christmas holiday with his son to Kurdistan. Away from the harsh realities of politics and war, whether he is musing upon blowjobs or burkas, The Deathly Hallows or ‘The New Commandments’, his writing bristles with opinions and insight, all couched in breathtakingly vibrant prose. When he’s gone, and that may well be quite soon, Christopher Hitchens will leave us with an unparalleled breadth of journalistic excellence.