Letters to a Young Contrarian – Christopher Hitchens

Hitchens does write beautifully. A paean to freethinking, mental independence, and the danger of outsourcing your brain to others, this book is a model of clarity and concision. Unfortunately, it also refers to about 20 other “must read” books, and as such has generated an Amazon bill of about £150.

It’s not dissimilar in tone to Richard Dawkins’s letter to his daughter, and is no worse for the comparison.

I’d question Hitchens’s assumption that the generation of light always requires heat (decaying isotopes can generate electromagnetic radiation in the form of gamma rays, nuclear reactions are independent of temperature, and while I’m aware that gamma rays are of vastly greater frequency than light, that’s not the point).

Hitchens is always worth reading. It’s a pity I left my copy of Why Orwell Matters in a church (long story).

UPDATE

I got a new copy of Why Orwell Matters and read about 100 pages. It’s probably very good, but unfortunately it’s so dense with references that are pretty meaningless to me that I’m not getting a lot out of it. I may come back to it later.

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