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Letters to a Young Contrarian

Narrated by: James Adams
Length: 3 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (26 ratings)
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Publisher's Summary

A witty, wise, biting, and completely individual meditation on what it means to think, live, and be to the contrary.

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.

©2005 Christopher Hitchens (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"[T]his mini-manifesto, despite the somewhat mountainous terrain, should provide readers interested in current events and anti-establishment philosophy with a clearer view into one of today's more restless and provocative minds." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Mark
  • 03-05-2011

Something I'll listen to again

I won't be deleting this off my iPod anytime soon because the contrarian advice is something I want to soak in more than once so I really absorb it. There were times that Hitchens is way too well-read and smart for me to fully grasp all his references, but the book is concise and witty enough that it was easy for me to get past these parts. Sure, he can be smug and condescending but when done with wit, these traits can be fun if used against sacred cows and the powerful.

The book makes you want to speak up for righteous causes even if doing so makes you a bit of a bore. And it makes you not want to be a conformist because then you'd be an even bigger bore.

The book has the feel of something that will be read 100 years from now. Here's hoping Hitch has more life in him before the cancer takes him -- even if he doesn't write again -- because the world is a better place with him in it.

P.S. The narrator is good. He doesn't get in the way of the prose but is merely a conduit, as if Hitchens were reading it himself.

19 of 19 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sebastian
  • 24-11-2010

The best of Christopher Hitchens.

In the same line as his God Is Not Great, but shorter, funnier, to the point. Some very fresh insight from Hitchens. I also listened to Hitch-22 and this is much more enjoyable. A better listen.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 22-01-2011

Well done Hitchens

This audio book, like most of Hitchens???s work, is packed full of gems. I wish he had narrated it, but I am thankful that he wrote it. It generally takes me about ten times of listening to an audio book to completely absorb it, but this is quite easy to do while running, driving, or working out. As with much of Hitchens???s work, if you do absorb it, your mind will be expanded and you will be better off for it. Hitchens really gets you thinking.

Let???s hope that ???Love Poverty and War??? comes out on Audio soon.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher
  • 28-09-2010

Hitchens at his best

Though I have not yet read Hitch 22, and though I admire all of his works, to me this is the best of hitch. Adams does a fine ob on the read as well.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Todd
  • 27-02-2016

Adams' stilted "British" reading misreads Hitchens

We love Hitchens for his erudition, but he's an intellectual rock star by way of his wilting oratorical pugilism.

So a vocal performance of Hitchens' memoir poses a special challenge of interpretation.

Sadly, to admire Adams for his effete, rather shallow aristocratic impression of Christopher would be to lend too much to Chris's bravura hauteur at the expense of his ideas.

Phony smarty-pants emoting betrays prose; apes the tone; while glaringly failing to convey comprehension of the material.

Sloppy.

Audible needs to find people who know about the authors; know what they're actually reading about. Otherwise it's like watching community theatre: cheep incompetent nauseating corruption.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Carlos
  • 16-01-2012

Most recommendable for any young contrarian

If you could sum up Letters to a Young Contrarian in three words, what would they be?

This is the most stoning book I've read lately, it is curious how somebody like Hitchens was out of mi sight. I'll buy and give away this book to many young contrarians I know

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Brian
  • 23-11-2011

Hitchens at his best

This is the 3rd Hitchens audiobook for me and it's my favorite. The "letters to" format works particularly well in keeping the topics flowing. The writing is his best. The range of topics makes this a good primer book. Agreement with the author is not necessary to appreciate it - although I agreed with more than I expected. There's just something about impeccable writing with just the right words chosen for clarity on intellectually stimulating topics. A few passages I returned to a few times because they really made me think. One passage I returned to repeatedly around the 1 hour mark regards an "AS IF" strategy of surviving troubling "Real Politik" with historical examples - wow - good stuff. Hitchens as narrator I would have preferred. This guy is a close second though - his tone and timing is right on for the author's work.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • J. Ohlman
  • 13-02-2011

challenging but rewarding

Be prepared to rewind and listen to key passages as this is not an easy listen, but the gain is well worth the effort.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia
  • 12-04-2013

Delightul Insights from one of our Great Minds

This is delightful listening, and even if you are not familar with Hitchens, this is a great introduction to his thought. I think I took him for granted while he lived and now that he is gone, I was grateful to get these insights into his thoughts. He makes you think. He doesn't ask you to agree with him but you had better be quite logical in defending your ideas. And, he can be so funny. We are poorer without him but at least we have his writings. I highly recommend it.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Caligui
  • 18-04-2012

foundational education for the modern free thinker

Having consumed Christopher’s other works first; I see that it was the origin of much of the substance in his more popular titles. However, I feel this incarnation was the highest possible form as he shared his thoughts and subject matter expertise on being a dissident, provocateur and general pain in the ass to any person or idea on the receiving end of undeserved respect.
As always, Christopher displays charm, unsurpassable mastery of the English language and a rapier wit which will make you laugh out loud multiple times through the book. His use of the letter format is subtle and elegant making his prose more active and engaged. This work stands shoulder to shoulder with the best books I have read in my life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher Wilton
  • 19-01-2012

Get God is Not Great

This book would've been better if I had not already read and listened to Hitchens' latter work "God Is Not Great" which features many of the same stories and anecdotes. As such I found very little novelty in this book.

If you haven't yet read/listened to God is Not Great then fair enough, you'll be in for a treat; there's a lot of interesting stuff and the format is intriguing in itself. But expect to cover a little old ground when you eventually get around to the latter (arguably more important) work.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
  • James
  • 29-12-2012

Interesting, but...

Rather an academic approach, and not narrated by Hitchens himself, so a little disappointing overall, but interesting none the less.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick
  • 25-07-2015

Fleshes out Hitch's mindset

Interesting to see what Hitch has to say not to ideologically set political commentators but rather students who he'd like to confront the world critically. Much of the book is early form ideas which we saw develop over the 2000's but if you're a fan this is a must

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Stephen
  • 29-04-2012

From the Master Contrarian

If you would to read the principles used by the best debater in this generation, then good news. Here they are. The lessons are delivered in the form of letters to a close friend. Almost as from Father to Son, or master to apprentice. Ironic imtelligently funny, humble as to limits and ability to be wrong. I have read this three times and it gets better with the rereading. I hope that the debaters art is not lost with the sound bite generation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel R.
  • 03-07-2018

My favourite

After many listens I can confidently say that this is my favourite audiobook yet. The myriad advice distilled in this short book is a testament to the genius of Hitchens, he is wit, style, and substance - an example of true greatness as a figure to be upheld.

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  • mcfc
  • 12-03-2018

Brilliant

Hitch at his brilliant best, great book, highly recommend. It’s a short listen compared to many of his other books but packs quality

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-03-2018

Forever miss Hitch

Another great listen I thank audible for bringing Letters to a young Contrarian to audio

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  • Edd Spencer
  • 01-10-2017

interesting read

like how this was written as if it was a conversation you were having with Hitchens; will have to re-read a few times though to absorb it all.

Really liked the narrator my only issue is it wasn't the author himself.