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Christopher Hitchens Best Essay Introduction

"Anyone who occasionally opens one of our more serious periodicals has learned that the byline of Christopher Hitchens is an opportunity to be delighted or maddened-possibly both-but in any case not to be missed....His range is extraordinary, both in breadth and altitude. He is as self-confident on the politics of Lebanon as on the ontology of the Harry Potter books....I still find Hitchens one of the most stimulating thinkers and entertaining we have, even when-perhaps especially when-he provokes."―Bill Keller, New York Times Book Review

"The essays in 'Arguably' remind us of other dimensions to this singular writer and thinker that are sometimes overshadowed by the range of his political commentary. Though there are plenty of essays on politics to be found here, the book also treats us to other arrows in Hitchens' proverbial quiver, including his bracing, exhilarating approach to important literary figures...Its value is clear and needs no justification. And since his diagnosis of esophageal cancer last year, opportunities to hear him, understandably, have been fewer. Which is another thing 'Arguably' inadvertently addresses - for in reading this collection of his thoughts, immersing yourself in the particular turns of phrase and associations of Hitchens' wit, you suddenly realize something else: You're hearing his voice again."―Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times

"Christopher Hitchens's selected essays are Arguably (Twelve) his finest to date."―Vanity Fair

"One reads him [Hitchens] despite his reputation as someone who wants to drink, argue, and tear the ornaments off the tree, because he is, first and last, a writer, an always exciting, often exacting, furious polemicist. This fact, the most salient thing about him, often gets neglected in the public jousting. Arguably, Hitchens's new collection, forcefully proves this point. Consisting of three kinds of writing - literary journalism, political commentary, and cultural complaint - Arguably offers a panoramic if somewhat jaundiced view of the last decade or so of cultural and political history."―The Boston Globe

"Opinions are to Christopher Hitchens what oil is to Saudi Arabia. This collection, featuring his liveliest, funniest and most infamous essays....There is a time for the balanced, even-handed and sober approach - but why bother with any of that when you could be reading someone as provocative and impish as Hitchens?"―The New York Post

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The loss of Christopher Hitchens leaves the world a far poorer place, but perhaps Salman Rushdie's tribute to him – "A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops" – is only half right. Of course we can only imagine what he would have gone on to say if he had been spared another day, another week or another year, but a voice like that of Hitchens never really falls silent.

Readers around the world will be turning to their shelves today to consult his elegant memoir, Hitch-22, his anti-religious polemic, God Is Not Great, and his campaigner's manual, Letters to a Young Contrarian, but in the age of the internet, a writer as prolific as Hitchens leaves pearls everywhere.

Of course he's in the Guardian, reflecting on the treatment of journalism in fiction, defending his friend Martin Amis, hymning Brideshead Revisited and examining the decade since 9/11.

But here he is in Vanity Fair, too, with his "first raw reactions to being stricken" with cancer of the oesophagus, his analysis of Everybody Pray for Hitchens Day, and his final meditation on the myth of Friedrich Nietzsche's maxim "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger." Here he is, too, reviewing Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall in the Atlantic and reacting to Tony Blair's faith foundation in the New Statesman.

Never camera-shy, he also leaves his legacy on celluloid too. Highlights include his Freedom Festival lecture on "the Jesus myth", his interview with Anderson Cooper on god and cancer on CNN, and various highlights packages of his finest, pithiest, most caustic moments.

On the day when Hitchens finally met "our common fate", his dismissal of "facile maxims that don't live up to their apparent billing" rings out as loud as ever.