Irascible and forthright, Christopher Hitchens stood out as a man determined to do just that. In his younger years, a career-minded socialist, he emerged from the smoke of 9/11 a neoconservative “Marxist,” an advocate of America’s invasion of Iraq filled with passionate intensity. Throughout his life, he played the role of universal gadfly, whose commitment to the truth transcended the party line as well as received wisdom. But how much of this was imposture? In this highly critical study, Richard Seymour casts a cold eye over the career of the “Hitch” to uncover an intellectual trajectory determined by expediency and a fetish for power.
As an orator and writer, Hitchens offered something unique and highly marketable. But for all his professed individualism, he remains a recognizable historical type—the apostate leftist. Unhitched presents a rewarding and entertaining case study, one that is also a cautionary tale for our times.
Perhaps not unexpectedly, Richard Seymour’s Unhitched has roused Christopher Hitchens’ legion of defenders and apologists to indignation, and Seymour has risen to the occasion in characteristically scathing fashion.
In the Washington Post: “The author — a Marxist writer and activist born in Northern Ireland and living in London — has done his research, apparently having read almost everything his subject ever wrote, but in the service of the narrow goals of the over-zealous prosecutor…Seymour insists on advancing his argument from solid ground onto very thin ice.”
In response, Verso will soon be publishing Seymour’s new trilogy of Stieg Larsson-style books: “The Strident Marxist Who Went Too Far, The Strident Marxist Who Didn't Go Far Enough, and The Strident Marxist Who Went Far Enough, Took Pictures, Came Back and Mailed Them To Your Mama.”
Fred Inglis of the Independent recently reviewed Unhitched, a penetrating critique of the life and work of the late Christopher Hitchens. If you forgot what camaraderie looks like, here are a few extracts to remind you:
“Seymour is certainly master of the records; he knows the work closely and cites it scrupulously. But his headlong, foam-flecked interpretation, voiced in a manner recklessly close to Hitchens’s own but without the grace, the wit, the tearing high spirits and the faultless ear for the fall of cadence of his great original, becomes merely tedious, repetitive and unconvincing.”