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Hitch-22 cover.jpg
AuthorChristopher Hitchens
CountryUnited States
PublisherTwelve Books, Atlantic Books (UK)
Publication date
20 May 2010 (UK) June 2, 2011
Media typeHardcover, paperback, audiobook
(inc 24 pages of photographs)
LC ClassCT275.H62575 A3 2010

Hitch-22: A Memoir is a memoir written by author and journalist Christopher Hitchens.

The book was published in May 2010 by Atlantic Books in the UK and June 2011 by Twelve, an imprint of Hachette Book Group USA, and was later nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. The planned worldwide tour for the book was cut short later the same month during the American leg so that the author could begin treatment for newly diagnosed esophageal cancer.[1] Through the book's publisher and in the magazine for which he was a regular contributing editor, Vanity Fair, Hitchens announced: 'I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.'[2]


Hitchens initially found the book hard to write: 'I found it fantastically difficult. Normally, when I'm writing, I'm making an argument, making a case. Also, when I'm writing, I'm trying to see how much I can pack into 5,000 words about a subject. But here's a subject I know too much about.' But he eventually produced a manuscript that was twice the length of the version finally published.[3]

Hitchens used his memoir to discuss several incidents that were later picked up by reviewers and the media as notable for their revelatory nature: as a contemporary at Oxford University of the then-student Bill Clinton (who later became the American President), he knew that Clinton's later avowal that 'I did not inhale' in regard to marijuana was based on Clinton's allergy to smoke; but Hitchens also states that Clinton's consumption was via 'cookies and brownies';[4] that during the writing of Martin Amis's novel, Money, Hitchens and Amis visited a New York brothel so that Amis could research the experience;[5] that during an encounter at a party with the then British Leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, she proceeded to 'spank Hitchens directly on the buttocks' and call him a 'Naughty boy!'[6]

New foreword[edit]

The paperback edition of the book, published in 2011, featured a new foreword by Hitchens which mentions his newly diagnosed cancer: "I suffer from Stage Four oesophageal cancer," he writes. "There is no Stage Five." And "I hope it will not seem presumptuous to assume that anybody likely to have got as far as acquiring this paperback edition of my memoir will know that it was written by someone who, without appreciating it at the time, had become seriously and perhaps mortally ill... When the book was published, I had just turned sixty-one. I am writing this at a moment when, according to my doctors, I cannot be certain of celebrating another birthday."[7][8]

Critical reception[edit]

Comments from critic Dwight Garner's article in The New York Times Book Review are quoted on the back cover. "Electric and electrifying... 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."[9] and "It is a fascinating, funny, sad, incisive, and serious narrative...' by Alexander Waugh of The Spectator.[10]

Hitchens frequently referred to Iraq as the "Republic of Fear" under Saddam Hussein. He mentions that a visit to Iraq in late 1977 or early 1978 made him realize that after a Baghdad physician asked if he could help him leave the country, that people were fearful of the prospect of Saddam Hussein becoming President. Christopher Hitchens' critique of the Left, telling them to be more "self-critical" and less "self-congratulatory" for their opposition to the Iraq War is in summary a critique of his own lukewarm response to the Gulf War, which he detested and which he felt was a self-serving move on the part of the United States and Saudi Arabia. Hitchens claimed to be a stickler for the truth, but he felt the stories of babies being taken out of incubators--a lie--paled in comparison to Saddam's atrocities. Citing the 1979 coup that brought Saddam to power and the chilling sight of a broken man giving a confession, followed by half the men in the room being ordered to kill the other half in order to cement their loyalty to Saddam, Hitchens defends his unwavering critique of Saddam's crimes against humanity. His initial response was lukewarm, essential because Saddam gave Iraq the façade of being a modern, secular nation. In reality, Saddam, in Hitchens' own mind, invoked the image of the martyr for the Iraqi military's crimes against Kuwait, Iran, the Kurds, and the Shiites. Indeed, Hitchens was no fan of George H.W. Bush's assessment that Saddam committed crimes against "his own people" when the Kurds, Marsh Arabs, Shiites, and other marginalized groups were the ones being slaughtered for their peaceful dissent against the Baathist party. The Baath Party was abolished on April 9, 2003. Saddam Hussein (b. 1937 d. 2006) was executed at the age of 69. His sons Qusay and Uday Hussein died during the invasion in 2003. While his view on the Iraq War deviated from conventional views among the Left, he did not claim to be a staunch supporter of George W. Bush but instead claimed "Kristallnacht is not imminent" meaning he felt there was no appreciable difference between the two major American political parties.

Hitchens died of esophageal cancer in 2011, aged 62. His autobiography received positive reviews, and some critics felt his prose was impressive and wit was incisive.


  1. ^ Peters, Jeremy. "Christopher Hitchens to Begin Cancer Treatment", The New York Times, 30 June 2010.
  2. ^ Books (2010-07-01). "Book tour halted, The Telegraph". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  3. ^ Hillel Italie (2010-06-14). "'Christopher Hitchens On 'Hitch-22': Memoir Was "Fantastically Difficult" To Write', Huffington Post". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  4. ^ Baram, Marcus (2010-06-08). "Hitchens on Bill Clinton, Huffington Post". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  5. ^ Baram, Marcus (2010-06-08). "Hitchens on Amis". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  6. ^ Baram, Marcus (2010-06-08). "Hitchens on Thatcher". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  7. ^ "Book preview, foreword". Barnesandnoble.com. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  8. ^ Nicholas Lezard (2011-04-23). "review". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  9. ^ Garner, Dwight (2010-06-02). "Dwight Garner, The New York Times Review of Books". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-04-14.
  10. ^ "Spectator review". Spectator.co.uk. 2010-06-05. Archived from the original on 2010-06-08. Retrieved 2012-04-14. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)

External links[edit]