Review by Booklist Review
The late Hitchens' distinctive style can make any of his writings feel simultaneously like essential reading and guilty pleasures. The reader imagines the rakish enfant terrible of letters with a scotch in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and a stray lock of hair hanging down across his forehead as Hitch mischievously and devastatingly eviscerates another combatant in a lopsided battle of wits. The present anthology collects a smattering of reviews published in the London Review of Books, essays, diary entries, and a few blistering letters, all bearing the Hitch je ne sais quoi. Highlights include pieces on Tom Wolfe, P. G. Wodehouse, and Gore Vidal, diary entries on topics as various as long time friend Salman Rushdie, attending the Oscars, and being spanked by Margaret Thatcher. Understandably, some pieces feel somewhat dated yet serve to illustrate how penetrating Hitchens' analysis could be while he clearly had fun in the process. The pièce de résistance is a brilliant consideration of Isaiah Berlin that reminds the reader just how unique Hitchens was.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
This acerbic posthumous anthology from cultural critic Hitchens (And Yet...) brings together previously uncollected essays, book reviews, and letters originally published in the London Review of Books between 1983 and 2002. Hitchens's caustic reports tackle pop culture and politics with equal verve; for example, he derides the Oscars as a dull "pseudo-spectacle" after attending the 1995 ceremony and bemoans George H.W. Bush's prayer meeting with Billy Graham on the eve of Desert Storm: "Every time that a conflict impends in any formerly biblical land, this elderly nuisance starts driveling about the last days and the end of time." Hitchens's literary critiques are similarly unsparing, as when he argues that journalist Tom Wolfe, whom Hitchens blames for inspiring "a whole school of lycanthropic scribblers," floundered in the conservative 1980s because the progressive politics he needled no longer dominated mainstream political discourse. The selections testify to Hitchens's incomparable snark, as well as his unwaveringly lucid analysis, such as when he excoriates the Clinton administration for responding to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing with the "language of therapy and recovery" instead of cracking down on the white supremacist militia movement that the perpetrators belonged to. The result is a potent reminder of Hitchens's considerable talents. (Jan.)
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Review by Kirkus Book Review
A well-selected anthology from the pen of the incomparable writer. Hitchens contributed reviews and essays over a period of two decades for the London Review of Books, some of which are anthologized for the first time here. The anthology is memorable not just for the first-rate quality, but also for showcasing the author's enviable range. Subjects include the defenestration of the Kennedy and Nixon administrations, which attracted the ire of Arthur Schlesinger; Salman Rushdie; P.G. Wodehouse; a trip to the 1995 Oscars with his son; and an incident in which Hitchens describes being spanked with a rolled-up order of Parliament by Margaret Thatcher (this last essay is worth the price of the book). The author's profile of Bill Clinton serves as an extended precis of his book about the Clintons, No One Left to Lie To. During his long and celebrated career as a public intellectual, Hitchens often defined an educated person as one self-aware enough to know that he or she could never learn or read enough. Keeping that in mind while reading this entertaining anthology reinforces how much Hitchens did know and how well-read he was. To every piece, he brings what James Wolcott (a Hitchens colleague at Vanity Fair) describes in the foreword as the author's "armory of deep reading and lucid recall." The quality, irony, and intelligence that marks his work leaves readers wishing Hitchens were around to comment upon the current state of affairs, particularly concerning state-sponsored censorship and coercion--not to mention the general lack of quality of what passes for political leadership. But readers can well enough guess given the following from an essay about the first Iraq War: "There were a thousand ways for a superpower to avert war with a mediocre local despotism without losing face. But the syllogisms of power don't correspond very exactly to reason." Quintessential Hitchens. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.