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Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens

Blistering and timely interrogation of the politics and motives of an infamous ex-leftist.

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.

Reviews

  • “Clever, incisive...Unhitched offers a more thorough and in-depth discrediting of Hitchens than anything previously published. And in doing so, Seymour has made an important contribution to understanding the political role of the intellectual celebrity in our time.”
  • “Richard Seymour's Unhitched, a slim and scathing denunciation of turncoat scoundrel Christopher Hitchens, is a thoroughly satisfying and politically important book by one of the few remaining great radical left journalists.”
  • “Seymour reveals Hitchens as having had a lifelong admiration both for the United States and for empires as civilizing forces.”
  • “Richard Seymour employs a unique technique to shred Hitchens’s political philosophy to pieces: Seymour puts the late writer on trial.”
  • “Well-argued... I think Seymour rather pitied Hitchens, as the married man pities the philanderer.”
  • “He is not worthy of changing Christopher Hitchens’s printer cartridge.”
  • “A nasty piece of work...(Full disclosure: Hitchens was a friend, mentor, and neighbor of mine.)”
  • “Seymour’s book offers an exciting counterbalance to the often uncritical praise that has flowed heavily since Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in June 2010.”
  • “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 a cadence of his great original, becomes merely tedious, repetitive and unconvincing... This little book is 134 pages long. The author shouldn’t have done it. It is paltry and it is trivially abusive. Its subject was as eloquent, cultivated, exuberant, unstoppable, sheerly gigantic a journalist as British or American politics has known since George Orwell.”
  • “Caustic demolition of Hitchens – not dissimilar to Hitch’s way with Mother Teresa or the Clintons.”
  • “In Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens, we again find Seymour’s customary clarity, rigor, and intelligence as he offers a brilliant analysis of the shifting landscape of Hitchens’ path from socialist internationalist to Liberal Hawk. It is a work brimming with hot anecdotes and tangy tidbits as Seymour goes at it mano a mano with “The Great Contrarian,” recapitulating the menu of contradictions that comprise the life of this practiced ironist.”

Blog

  • COMPETITION: Win the complete Counterblasts series!



    Counterblasts is Verso's renowned series of punchy, polemic titles attacking the apologists of neo-liberalism and Empire. From Hitch to Bono, no sacred cow or globe-trotting celeb is immune to the excoriating verdicts of these often amusing, always trenchant books.

    To mark the latest in the Counterblasts series, Japhy Wilson's book on Jeffrey Sachs, we're offering the chance to win all the books in the series to one lucky entrant. We will also be offering a copy of Jeffrey Sachs to three runners up. Other books in the series include The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power), Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens, The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at WorkThe Impostor: BHL in Wonderland, and Michael Ignatieff: The Lesser Evil?

    Jeffrey Sachs is famous for forging the doctrine that came to be known as 'shock therapy'. Shock therapy is both an economic and political strategy, which entails the sudden implementation of a set of reforms designed to shock an economy from one based on state planning to that of free markets. To read more about the strange world of Jeffrey Sachs, check out our abridged extract from Wilson's book.

    To enter the competion simply answer this question: On 2 January 1992 in which country was Jeffrey Sachs' programme of shock therapy implemented?

    Email your answer with your name and address to enquiries@verso.co.uk. Please use the subject line JEFFREY SACHS. The deadline is 5pm GMT on Friday 6th June and the winner and three runners up will be chosen at random from the correct entries.
  • How Far Did the Strident Marxist Go? The Washington Post, The New Statesman and Newsweek Review Unhitched

    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.”

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  • “Cursed into Obscurity” Fred Inglis, Keith Miller and Alison Flood review Richard Seymour’s Unhitched

    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.”


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