From the #1 New York Times best-selling author of God Is Not Great, a provocative and entertaining guided tour of atheist and agnostic thought through the ages--with never-before-published pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali.Christopher Hitchens continues to make the case for a splendidly godless universe in this first-ever gathering of the influential voices--past and present--that have shaped his side of the current (and raging) God/no-god debate. With Hitchens as your erudite and witty guide, you'll be led through a wealth of philosophy, literature, and scientific inquiry, including generous portions of the words of Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and many others well-known and lesser known. And they're all set in context and commented upon as only Christopher Hitchens--"political and literary journalist extraordinaire" (Los Angeles Times)--can. Atheist? Believer? Uncertain? No matter: The Portable Atheist will speak to you and engage you every step of the way.
Essays by Hitchens on personalities in recent history and literature.
In this unique biography of Thomas Jefferson, leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father. Situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years, Hitchens brings the character of Jefferson to life as a man of his time and also as a symbolic figure beyond it. Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy. Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense. In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature.
Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man" has been celebrated, criticized, maligned, suppressed, and co-opted, but Hitchens marvels at its forethought and revels in its contentiousness. In this book, he demonstrates how Paine's book forms the philosophical cornerstone of the U.S.
"If the courts and lawyers of this country will not do their duty, we shall watch as the victims and survivors of this man pursue justice and vindication in their own dignified and painstaking way, and at their own expense, and we shall be put to shame."Forget Pinochet, Milosevic, Hussein, Kim Jong-il, or Gaddafi: America need look no further than its own lauded leaders for a war criminal whose offenses rival those of the most heinous dictators in recent history-Henry Kissinger.Employing evidence based on firsthand testimony, unpublished documents, and new information uncovered by the Freedom of Information Act, and using only what would hold up in international courts of law, THE TRIAL OF HENRY KISSINGER outlines atrocities authorized by the former secretary of state in Indochina, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus, East Timor, and in the plight of the Iraqi Kurds, "including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture."With the precision and tenacity of a prosecutor, Hitchens offers an unrepentant portrait of a felonious diplomat who "maintained that laws were like cobwebs," and implores governments around the world, including our own, to bring him swiftly to justice.
In The Trial of Henry Kissinger, Christopher Hitchens shifts focus from Pinochet, Milosevic, Hussein, and Kim Jong-il to a man seemingly lauded and revered by the American people for what are undeniably war crimes: Henry Kissinger. Now available as a Signal paperback. Forget the regular cadre of war criminals that pollute our news headlines day in and day out; we need look no further than America's own celebrated leaders for a war criminal whose offenses rival those of the most heinous dictators in recent history: Henry Kissinger. Employing evidence based on firsthand testimony, unpublished documents, and new material uncovered by the Freedom of Information Act, and using only what would hold up in international courts of law, The Trial of Henry Kissinger outlines worldwide atrocities authorized by the former secretary of state -- among them "conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture." With the precision and tenacity reminiscent of a prosecutor presenting his case, Hitchens offers readers an unrepentant, honest portrait of Kissinger, and implores governments around the world, including our own, to swiftly bring him to justice.
A celebration of Percy Shelley's assertion that 'poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world', these 35 essays on writers from Oscar Wilde to Salman Rushdie, dispel the myth of politics as a stone tied to the neck of literature.
George Orwell's body of work does not offer an easy categorization of his political stances. A product of English elite schooling, Orwell was posted to Burma as a colonial officer. Hitchens chronicles Orwell's experiences in that role and his subsequent evaluation of the brutalizing effects colonialism has on both the occupiers and the occupied. This led to a lifelong hatred of authoritarianism which led him to become a committed socialist. Like many socialists of the time, Orwell had great hopes for the Soviet Union. After witnessing Stalin's iron-fisted suppression of dissent during the Spanish Civil War he saw Stalin to be as great a danger to civilization as Hitler. Hitchens examines Orwell's exasperation at the refusal of his socialist comrades to accept that their hopes for the promise of Communism had been brutally and cynically manipulated and betrayed. Although Orwell was contemptuous of the Right, he has nonetheless been claimed by them, although uneasily. The Left has never been comfortable with Orwell either. How this has come about and why is the subject of "Why Orwell Matters". Hitchens' prose is always a joy to read, though his contrariarnism can be jarring at times. "Why Orwell Matters" is probably Hitchen's least polemic works. If you've ever wanted to get a better understanding of George Orwell - and don't want to wade through an exhaustive biography, this is the book for you.
In this widely acclaimed biographical essay, Christopher Hitchens assesses the life, the achievements, and the myth of the great political writer and participant George Orwell. In true emulative and contrarian style, Hitchens is both admiring and aggressive, sympathetic yet critical, taking true measure of his subject as hero and problem. Answering both the detractors and the false claimants, Hitchens tears down the façade of sainthood erected by the hagiographers and rebuts the critics point by point. He examines Orwell and his perspectives on fascism, empire, feminism, and Englishness, as well as his outlook on America, a country and culture towards which he exhibited much ambivalence. Whether thinking about empires or dictators, race or class, nationalism or popular culture, Orwell's moral outlook remains indispensable in a world that has undergone vast changes in the fifty years since his death. Combining the best of Hitchens's polemical punch and intellectual elegance in a tightly woven and subtle argument, this book addresses not only why Orwell matters today, but how he will continue to matter in a future, uncertain world.Christopher Hitchens, one of the most incisive minds of our own age, meets Orwell on the page in this provocative encounter of wit, contention and moral truth.
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