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Letters to a Young Contrarian (Anglais) Broché – 13 avril 2005

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4,5 étoiles sur 5 152 commentaires provenant des USA

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Description du produit

Présentation de l'éditeur

In the book that he was born to write, provocateur and best-selling author Christopher Hitchens inspires future generations of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, rebels, angry young (wo)men, and dissidents. Who better to speak to that person who finds him or herself in a contrarian position than Hitchens, who has made a career of disagreeing in profound and entertaining ways.This book explores the entire range of "contrary positions"-from noble dissident to gratuitous pain in the butt. In an age of overly polite debate bending over backward to reach a happy consensus within an increasingly centrist political dialogue, Hitchens pointedly pitches himself in contrast. He bemoans the loss of the skills of dialectical thinking evident in contemporary society. He understands the importance of disagreement-to personal integrity, to informed discussion, to true progress-heck, to democracy itself. Epigrammatic, spunky, witty, in your face, timeless and timely, this book is everything you would expect from a mentoring contrarian.

Biographie de l'auteur

Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. His numerous books include Letters to a Young Contrarian and Why Orwell Matters.

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11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Delightful, Substantive, and Entertaining 28 janvier 2017
Par Jack - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A delightful read for anyone who is courageous enough to question orthodoxy-- not in the narcissistic, jejune, social media ad hominem way-- but intelligently, supported by reason and knowledge of history. His prose in this little book can be remarkably elegant, and also downright hilarious:

"A few years ago, I decided in my own mind that the then-president [Bill Clinton] was even more of a crook and a liar than his most dogmatic ideological opponents had claimed."

"Some people can't bear solitude, let alone the idea that the heavens are empty and that we do not even succeed in troubling their deafness with our bootless cries [...] the concept of loneliness and exile and self-sufficiency continually bucks me up."

The two examples above show why he was truly a contrarian: Hitchens went after the cultural elite (Left) as well as the religious (Right). Thus, everyone listened to him, and everyone disagreed with him on something. I miss the guy's writing terribly, and love to go back to this book and read his eloquence and humor. These days, we all have our own little bubbles in which we reside, be that the ivory tower or talk radio, but Hitchens (1949-2011) was everywhere, ready to debate. Always ready.

In "Letters to a Young Contrarian," the author forms an intimate bond with the reader, discussing life in the most entertaining and substantive way. What a charming, intelligent writer. I recommend this book for anyone, regardless of their age.
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Makes my spirit soar and my soul awaken that being different is more than okay, it's beautiful. 9 juillet 2016
Par Virginia Woolf - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
So far, I love this book. I highly recommend it for anyone struggling with being truly authentic and stead fast in their beliefs. More than that, 'Letters to a Young Contrarian' keenly and sharply addresses the need to belong and the fear of abandonment when stepping forward against all reason of the masses. I will keep this book close at hand to remind me that one person, even one thought made visible can make a difference despite others indifference or naysayer's.

His vocabulary is audacious. For those looking to expand their own vocabulary and writing skills Hitchens' offers the reader a wonderful opportunity to have a real dictionary in hand and discover the joy of exposition.

Thank you to my nephew, Shane who has shared his fondness for reading with me.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The perfect Hitch to your inner contrarian. 27 juin 2013
Par Scott Lindsay - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
When the Hitch writes, the Hitch means business. In the book, Christopher gives us letters as chapters and chapters as commandments, teaching us how to stand up against banal conformity and the dangers of tyrannical leadership and ideologies. Through a series of thoughtful stories and enlightening cognitive tools, this book will reprogram your brain. If you have ever regretted hesitating to stand up against an injustice or irrational argument, regret is no longer an option. An alpha version of the street fighter program that we see in his debates will be downloaded onto your mind's operating system.

And of course, Christopher leaves no stone unturned. From disempowering the words the Dalai Lama to revealing the disgusting, revolting truths of Bill Clinton, you will learn that skepticism is your strongest ally and how patience is not always a virtue. His years of journalistic experience shine through his immense vocabulary and eloquence of words. He warns us of own dangerous ways of thinking and his arguments allow us to invoke and channel rage whenever situations of indignation arise. Don't deal with injustice - don't simply observe a wrongdoing; act. He continues to represent his well-known reputation as a literary erudite and an infamous demagogue. No matter how old I get, I will always recognize Christopher as a Hitch to my development as a contrarian.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Excellent Reading ! 6 décembre 2012
Par Shaun Herndon - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Current events tell of many stories where the voices ( or votes) of the people are being hijacked by the political parties. It so happens that people who don't further inquire into the political soundbytes that are spewed, are in effect disenfranchised from the political process and unwittingly conform to misinformation.
In this book of we find Christopher Hitchens engaged in a series of letters, written in earnest prose about the necessity of nonconformity for the survival of the modern liberal society.
Each small chapter, acts as an addressed letter in an ongoing correspondence with an unnamed addressee, referred to as " X ".
The overall theme of this work is concerning the function of the "Radical" and the places in the world where political situations had called for the Radical to dissent from the collective instinct. To dissent is to remain independently minded and askew from where the collective instinct has become the insecure mob - blindly following an "infallible" leader.
Hitchens doesn't hesitate to disclaim that the sources of irrationality and prejudice that stem from the mob populist consensus, are petty, private, archaic and primeval urges ;

"There is no limit to human anti-intellectualism so there must be no limit to reason."

It must be noted somewhere in this review that Hitchens is an exceptional prose stylist and his letters are wonderfully engaging and nuanced from the outset, often striking a self-reflective note. Included his letters are personal lessons that were learned firsthand while answering the call to investigate a Moral crisis. These investigations certainly grounds his commentary when citing literary scholarship, ranging over vast landscapes of the humanities and politics.

The first of Hitchens letters' begins clarifying the role of the radical or dissident, with examples of individual struggles against the collective instinct.
For Hitchens, the dissident is to be earned rather than claimed. . .
i.e The one's who have earned to call themselves "dissident" were those who took a risk in going against "surreptitious conscription's" that are employed in order to exploit and control the masses. The radical dissident also maintains a commitment to explore the unconventional and contrary positions, which is shown to be a honorable commitment to personal integrity . This commitment is a "social contract" that is a prerequisite to democracy and to civilization, with Justice ideally taking precedence over corruption.

Throughout the letters Hitchens repeatedly informs the reader on how the dissenter deals with the struggle of societal conflict, where tribal solidarity and the intolerance that arises from it can be led to militarism, where the Law suddenly serves the interests of the State first - and the People second. To be ever more clear and concise, Hitchens later provides important aspects of being a radical in contrast to merely being a "reactionary" among other pitfalls that the radical must avoid. For clarity and to avoid confusion, the radical dissident or contrarian does not rest solely in any particular disagreement, but uses dissent as a way of being perpetually at odds with the mainstream.

Hitchens gives applicable advice about being eternally vigilant and persistent in the face of unrelenting opposition through his journalistic experience, coupled with his remarkable use of numerous literary examples.
One cannot easily dismiss Hitchens as employing merely idealistic anecdotes which can't be used in "real" complex situations, when one purveys the numerous examples that grounds his arguments -
especially when the arguments are recorded from people who experienced confrontations with the intolerant mobs and/or the State which sought to suffocate and extinguish the dissident voice of the disenfranchised minority. . . such as the abolitionist John Brown, Emile Zola, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandella to only name a few who regarded a compromise as a disgrace.
Ever more helpful is Hitchens when further describing the mindset one needs in order to dissent when necessary.
These descriptions further outline good tactics to use when in opposition, as when dissecting common arguments employed against those who oppose status quo's and further capitalizing by providing great rejoinders to those arguments.

Hitchens highlights the use of irony to expose or to question - using methods of sarcasm while enduring an "As if" duration while criticizing the system - always a dissident from the status quo.
This helps the dissident when engaging a non-violent political rebellion. Patiently embrace the struggle and make it your own.
But the use of irony or sarcasm in a critical fashion something, Hitchens would characterize as "behaving literally and acting ironically". "Behaving literally and acting ironically" is opposed to “a world of timidity” where everyone is trying to be politically correct and where identities are constructed around one’s “offendedness” to any sort of direct criticism.

There are other concerns mentioned that are directed against the "concilliary" minded, who argue for the suppression of known facts by the following rationale that sometimes the truth cant or shouldn't be told at this time. For Hitchens this notion of the "concilliary minded" also promotes censorship of criticism, such as when the satirical questions the obvious.
Although Hitchens jokes such a radical can be boring, he still takes time to suggest for the employment of different types of "wit" humor that has been employed in radical statements or criticisms in order to soften the cushion.

All throughout these letters are references of the courageous determination of individual people and their spontaneous resistance to episodes of bullying or bigotry, or a challenging "pedagogical stupidity", somehow being effective enough to dishearten those whose courage was mob-derived.
Hitchens providing his own observations and literary examples of the fact, that noble or moral reactions be shown as being innate - stressing that these reactions will continue to occur and without them being dependent for their occurrence upon the transmission of "morality tales". Indeed there can be shown where moral reactions take place spontaneously.
The narration always includes many examples of different times and places where the role of the dissident or one who speaks out in the cause of morality, is not confined to the saintly or celebrity and is usually more genuine. These examples seem to be a valid argument against the claim that religious belief is necessary condition for moral actions - soon afterwards, Hitchens uses many examples to demonstrate how the argument of morality being dependent upon a mythic or religious transmission is a misapprehension of what really takes place.

This comes to the letter that dissents from institutions, particularly religious institutions that actually ask that people to "check your intellect at the door" and listen to the "wise person" or "books of wisdom", further aspiring mental annihilation. This subtle imposed ignorance keeps the masses in a haze, but sufficiently free to do the bidding of its leaders, however harmful they may be. This quieting of the faculties of reason easily endangers people, making them more susceptible to being deluded by the current religious conformism, centrism or large consensus. One ever common example of the mental dangers of Non-judgement, are people becoming morally apathetic or being "non-critical" on positions which has often led to moral transgressions of those who decide to remain neutral in times of crisis - such as the Catholic German Priest's being concilliary or somewhat accommodating to Hitler and his political purposes.

It is in this context where Hitchens of his own term he likens, "anti-theism" as part of a ongoing criticism of Religion and its harmful applications. One notable criticism regarding Religion and its harmful applications, is of how the Christian claim of "vicarious redemption" is in fact, repulsive - with any sort of actual application rendered absurd ;
For example Hitchens writes, "I would not throw my numberless sins onto a scapegoat and expect them to pass from me" It follows that you should not assume anothers actual crimes as if they were your own;
For one thing you really didn't commit them and might have died than instead of committing them - this impossible action of vicarious redemption robs people of individual responsibility.
In short, this claim is not intellectually honest and is therefore adverse to grounded reasoning.

This is certainly a thought provoking book that is enjoyable to read and useful to employ. Regardless of what one thinks of the arguments and positions put forth in these letters, Hitchens always puts forth sound rationale for why he thinks the way he does - ever provoking the rational salience of a fellow contrarian.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I have learned much from this man 23 décembre 2011
Par bookscdsdvdsandcoolstuff - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
I have learned a great deal from reading Christopher Hitchens. I would go so far as to say that psychologically reading Mr. Hitchens has helped make me saner, and helped me heal from the wounds of co-dependency. It is ironic that a man who was, essentially, a practicing and unapologetic alcoholic helped me heal from co-dependency, but there it is. Hitch-22: A Memoir perhaps shows why Hitchens was able to perform this service for so many of us.

As other reviewers have noted, the best thing we can do is to live "as if." To my mind, this is the most important message of this very fine book. We need to live "as if" repression did not exit. We need to live "as if" the thought of us saying "no" to something, or telling the truth and not lying, or actually being honest about our feelings, did not terrify us.

Almost as important as the above is this: if we care about civility and irenic discourse, then we darn well better also be comfortable with "combativity" and argument. The center is mealy mouthed more often than not, and if we are afraid to wade in and make a strong argument and defend it, then the center will be defined without our input, and the world may well be a poorer place for it. Of course, the danger here is we make our argument incompetently and look the fool. Therefore, it is also incredibly important to be extremely well read, have one's position clearly thought out, and be able to articulate it clearly. Hitchens, even drunk, seemed to have a preternatural ability to have virtually every text he had ever read at his fingertips, and he wasn't afraid to let you know what he thought no matter the consequences, and his position seems to emerge, whole, thought out, and defensible, without any effort. In this sense he was almost a journalistic version of Mozart.

And we can also not be afraid, even as we live "as if," to change our minds if presented with new information that requires us to. As the bumper sticker says: "if you can't change your mind, are you sure you still have one?" Hitch's transformation from full out critic of George W. Bush and everything he stood for to supporter of much of what President Bush was doing speaks to the ability to change one's mind, and to be a cogent thinker. "A foolish consistency is a hobgoblin of little minds..." or something like that. Hitch did not have a little mind.

I love Hitchens because he was one of the few modern thinkers who was not a mealy mouthed relativist. This man (unlike his colleague Dawkins) was philosophically and historically highly literate, and reading him was much more challenging as a result. Hitch was an absolutist, and a historian, and a journalist, and this made him very formidable and impressive. That, and he had great humanity made him downright lovable. He was luminous, and we are all poorer for the fact that he no longer walks on our earth.

Of course, his work is still with us. Hitchens had the writing and thinking ability of a G.K. Chesterton, or more appropriately, a George Bernard Shaw, and he will be remembered as long and as fondly by many.

This is a wonderful book, that should be read widely. Many would profit from the wisdom contained in these pages.
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