Longreads

12.16.11

The Best Christopher Hitchens Longreads

From his epic takedown of Henry Kissinger to his petty crime spree in Bloomberg’s New York, The Daily Beast picks just a few highlights from Christopher Hitchens’s prolific career.

The Case Against Henry Kissinger
Harpers, March 2001

Hitchens’s sprawling takedown of Nixon’s secretary of state appeared in two installments in Harpers, making the definitive case that Kissinger is a war criminal.

Assassins of the Mind
Vanity Fair, February 2009
 
When Iran’s Ayatollah Khameini issued a fatwa on novelist Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses, it was the opening shot in a war on cultural freedom. Two decades later, the violence continues, and Muslim fundamentalists have gained a new advantage: media self-censorship.

The Medals of His Defeats
The Atlantic, April 2002

Hitchens takes the Great Man down a peg or two—and still finds that Winston Churchill was a great man.

As American As Apple Pie
Vanity Fair, July 2006

Fellatio has a long and storied history, but not until 1972—with the release of Deep Throat—did it come out, so to speak, in polite company. From the Wild West to the Wild White House, Hitchens explores the blowjob’s emergence as the nation’s signature sex act.

Believe Me, It’s Torture
Vanity Fair, August 2008

What more can be added to the debate over U.S. interrogation methods, and whether waterboarding is torture? Try firsthand experience. The author undergoes the controversial drowning technique, at the hands of men who once trained American soldiers to resist—not inflict—it.

I Fought the Law
Vanity Fair, February 2004

To protest the petty ordinances of Mayor Bloomberg’s New York, Hitchens went on a one-man crime spree: taking his feet off his bike pedals, feeding pigeons, and sitting on a milk crate, among other offenses. Why are the people of America’s most cosmopolitan city being treated like backward children?

I’ll Be Damned
The Atlantic, March 2005

Graham Greene's most fervent loyalty was to betrayal.

On the Limits of Self-Improvement
Vanity Fair, October 2007

There's an entire micro-economy based on the pursuit of betterment. Hitchens—58, full-figured, and ferocious in his consumption of cigarettes and Scotch—agreed to test its limits, starting with the Executive De-Stress Treatment at a high-end spa.

Trial of the Will
Vanity Fair, January 2012

Reviewing familiar principles and maxims in the face of mortal illness, Hitchens found one of them increasingly ridiculous: “Whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.” Oh, really?

BONUS SHORT READ:

How to Make A Decent Cup of Tea
Slate, January 2011

Ignore Yoko Ono and John Lennon, and heed George Orwell's tea-making advice.