In Memoir, Christopher Hitchens Looks Back

From The New York Times:

Book “Hitch-22” traces Mr. Hitchens’s coming of age as a public intellectual and as a man, and charts the long and serrated arc of his thinking about politics, from his early days as a militant member of the International Socialists to his gradual drift toward positions, like his support for the Iraq War, that have made some on the left scratch their heads. Anyone who’s closely read Mr. Hitchens’s work — including his best-selling manifesto “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” (2007) — or seen him do battle on cable news programs, knows that he has a mind like a Swiss Army knife, ready to carve up or unbolt an opponent’s arguments with a flick of the wrist. He holds dear the serious things, the things that matter: social justice, learning, direct language, the free play of the mind, loyalty, holding public figures to high standards.

His mental Swiss Army knife also contains, happily, a corkscrew. Mr. Hitchens is devoted to wit and bawdy wordplay and to good Scotch and cigarettes (though he has recently quit smoking) and long nights spent talking. He is also devoted to friendship. “Hitch-22” is among the loveliest paeans to the dearness of one’s friends — Mr. Hitchens’s close ones include Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and the poet James Fenton — I’ve ever read. The business and pleasure sides of Mr. Hitchens’s personality can make him seem, whether you agree with him or not, among the most purely alive people on the planet. “Hitch-22” does a sleek, funny job of rolling out his life story. He was born in 1949 in Portsmouth, into a less-than-bookish family: his father was a career navy man. Mr. Hitchens was precocious. According to family legend, his first complete sentence was “Let’s all go and have a drink at the club.”

More here.