So here it is: Hitch’s last hurrah. This final collection of the late Christopher Hitchens’s essays is his usual eclectic blend of politics, religion and literary criticism. He was that rare public intellectual, who was as comfortable writing about VS Naipaul as about Hizbullah. We are reminded he was always ahead of the rest of us, filing a suit against the US National Security Agency because “it was engaging in widespread warrantless surveillance of American citizens” a full decade before Snowden. He alerts us, too, that while Barack Obama was editing the Harvard Law Review, he “won golden opinions for soliciting and publishing every opinion but his own”, and there’s a particularly vicious essay on Hillary Clinton. The best reason to read And Yet . . . is the three-part essay, On the Limits of Self-Improvement, about Hitchens’s efforts to shake his smoking and drinking habits. It’s hilarious, sensible and gives two fingers to the #eatclean brigade. Contrary, witty, and always brilliant, Hitch couldn’t be dull even if he tried.
Starred Review. This collection is satisfying in its unexpected diversity and tasty juxtapositions--from Garry Wills' s conservative apostasy to Matt Labash' s surprising portrait of Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry, Walter Isaacson' s look at how Einstein divided American Zionism to Steven L. Isenberg' s recollections of his encounters with four British superstar writers when he was a fledgling New York editor. Elif Batuman gives an offbeat report on speculation about how Tolstoy died, and Zadie Smith looks at Obama, Shakespeare, and the expression of inner conflict between cultures. And what essay collection would be complete without one on the godfather of the form, Michel de Montaigne, in a piece by Jane Kramer? The sources are as diverse as the subjects: the Alaska Quarterly, American Scholar, Harvard Review, Oregon Humanities, and the Weekly Standard. Every reader will come away delighted and enlightened.
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