He has been variously described as an intellectual giant, sexist, an ideological turncoat and some names too salty for a Christian publication.
Like most interesting people at his best he is magnificent and at his worst he is downright deplorable. 'Arguably' is a collection of his essays for Vanity Fair, the Atlantic and Slate over the past decade and both sides of his nature are captured within its pages. This is his 5th large collection of essays so if nothing else the man is prolific (as a side note, consider buying the e-book – nearly 800 pages is heavy).
The essays are grouped thematically and are wide ranging. Perhaps what sticks out most about Hitchens is his bigness of thought and insatiable intellectual hunger. His language is clear and powerfully employed. Many critics have noted his similarities to his idol, George Orwell and the comparison stands – both men knew how to ruthlessly argue their point.
Christopher Hitchens has strong opinions, some of which are stupid. That doesn't detract from his contribution to journalism, public debate and thinking big ideas in an age when so many thoughts are reduced to 140 characters or less.
He effortlessly ranges from discussion of the founding fathers, literary giants, and devastating attacks on the arguments of his peers. Hitchen's battle with cancer has been well publicized (along with his resolute refusal to undergo any variety of deathbed 'conversion'). While he faces his death bravely and thoughtfully, there is no one in popular culture who can take his place as the implacable, indomitable, irascible thinker of big ideas. We will be the poorer for his loss.
By Christopher Hitchens
Allen & Unwin, 789pp,