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Letters to a Young Contrarian

By: Christopher Hitchens
Narrated by: James Adams
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Publisher's Summary

Art of Mentoring series

In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways.

This book explores the entire range of "contrary positions" - from noble dissident to gratuitous pain in the butt. In an age of overly polite debate bending over backward to reach a happy consensus within an increasingly centrist political dialogue, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast. He bemoans the loss of the skills of dialectical thinking evident in contemporary society. He understands the importance of disagreement - to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress - heck, to democracy itself.

Epigrammatic, spunky, witty, in your face, timeless and timely, this book is everything you would expect from a mentoring contrarian.

©2009 Christopher Hitchens (P)2020 Hachette Audio

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How fortunate that Hitchens left this legacy!

A rich and densely packed collection of advisory letters that prod and poke in all sorts of useful directions.

As a student of history, I’ve often wished that some of the great thinkers of old had provided us with a larger window into their minds.

Fortunately, Hitchens has done just that!

While the stunning quality of his prose and staggering breadth of his knowledge can easily leave you feeling quite inadequate, his purpose is clearly to encourage each reader to be a better version of themselves and thereby make the world a better place.

I also know from reading other works by Hitchens that he felt a similar sense of inadequacy after reading literary giants that preceded him (eg. Nabokov) and yet he continued to write…so I guess there’s still hope for the rest of us!

If I had one critique, it would be that an overly critical mindset can be stifling to those who want to try a make a difference for good (the oft quoted “Man in the Arena” excerpt comes to mind). However, I dare say that Hitchens would agree that you don’t have to have all of your feathers perfectly preened before you start flapping your wings and take your first tentative flight. Preening is a lifelong practice that will help you soar to higher heights in time, but you have to start somewhere, so “flap away” despite the fact that you might not soar like Hitchens…yet!

Perhaps, the best compliment to any author is that a reader wants to read his/her work again, which is what I plan to do now! In fact, it’s the sort of book that you can read annually, as a tonic of the mind. Enjoy!

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Enlightening in a Hitch kind of way

And exquisite exposé of how fight on both sides of the battle at the same time. Wish I had read it years ago.

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