Synopses & Reviews
Where Would the World Be Without the Agitators? The great ideals wouldn't stand a chance. The radiant goals that conservatives hope to conserve were not and could not have been achieved by conservatives. As if the Confederacy abolished slavery. As if the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, social security, public funding for medical care and higher education, clean water, rainforest and species preservation were ideas dreamed up by corporations, politicians, and governments. As if the federal bureaucracy and pharmaceutical companies all by themselves, of their own good will, without benefit of a raging activist movement, put anti-AIDS drugs into the hands of millions of infected people. It's obvious when you think about it, but neglected in the conservatives' self-congratulations: without the disrupters, campaigners, and ideological pests, all the noble words would amount to nothing but blackboard dust. This is not to justify any activity undertaken in the name of activism. It is to state a plain historical truth: no noise, no improvement. Activism as such is not sufficient for improvement, but damned if it isn't necessary.
"[Hitchens] is occasionally dismissive of ideologies that differ from his own (mainly religious), and he is unabashedly partisan -- an emphasis on such leftist ideals as universal equality and respect for human rights pervades the text. But, overall, his advice is thankfully nonpartisan, and his passionate call to embrace dialectic thinking and contentious debate is convincing and, well, correct." Heath Madom, Library Journal
"It's difficult to think of a political writer who fits the description 'contrarian' better than Hitchens.... Hitchens is anticonsensus, even antitheist, as his critical study of Mother Teresa made clear. He is, however, broadly educated and a graceful writer, which suggests that even readers who disagree with him on many subjects will enjoy this commentary on the demands of 'oppositionism.'" Mary Carroll, Booklist
"At his best, Hitchens exhibits precisely the combination of indignation and intellect that he recommends to others. His book is well stocked with memorable formulations." Alexander Star, New York Times Book Review
"Arch as the conception may be, the execution is winningly and accessibly conversational.... Although Christopher Hitchens has produced a wonderful primer for any journalistic polemicist, he has also written the one work every professional politician should be made to read." Michael Gove, Times Literary Supplement
Inspiring a future generation of radicals, gadflies, mavericks, and dissidents, Hitchens presents a completely individual meditation on what it means to think, live, and be to the contrary.
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.
A witty, wise, biting, and completely individual meditation on what it means to think, live, and be to the contrary.
About the Author
Christopher Hitchens is a contributing editor to Vanity Fair. His numerous books include Letters to a Young Contrarian and Why Orwell Matters.