Monday, June 30, 2014

Book Review: Letters to a Young Contrarian, C. Hitchens. 9/10.

Book Review: Letters to A Young Contrarian, C. Hitchens. 9/10.

"As for the ironic, I shan't attempt a definition here. It's the gin in the Campari, the x-factor, the knight's move on the chessboard, the cat's purr, the knot in the carpet. Its elusive and allusive nature is what makes it impossible to repress or capture. It has a relationship to the unintended consequence. One of its delights is that it can be deployed literally..."

The late Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was a prolific, articulate, literate, and extremely thought provoking author. "Letters to a Young Contrarian" was published on the eve of 9/11(2001) an event which would influence Hitchens' later writings and discussions. This is evident when one examines how he redoubled his efforts in ridiculing faith and promoting anti-theism post 9/11.

"Letters" is not similar to other books i have read - even by Hitchens. The book is a concise collection of short letters, written to a Dear X, or addressed to you the reader. The book highlights the importance of being a dissenter, contrarian or critic in the modern world. The short 100+ page book is somewhat of a manifesto on how historical dissidents, gadfly's and revolutionaries argued their ideology or beliefs, which were often counter to mainstream thought but ultimately were more noble or honest than just sitting quietly while the oppressor reaped the harvest of human freedom and thought.

The skills necessary to be a modern contrarian are taught and the reasons why one should be a contrarian are given. One example is irony, which is highlighted as an essential part of being a contrarian. Ridicule, it is said, is the best weapon of the slave or the oppressed. People from Socrates to Orwell and countless other 'contrarians' are only briefly covered as Hitchens does not want to make arguments from authority - rather he wants the reader to think for oneself. While i do not agree completely with everything Hitchens asserts in this book, it is interesting to note that disagreeing with the author is perhaps a chief reason for reading the book. Hitchens wants to show the reader how to become a contrarian - as opposed to simply gaining your consensus on his well articulated points.

Thanks, Brady Fair. 3fs,org. 

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