Mortality

  • by Christopher Hitchens
  • Narrated by Simon Prebble
  • 2 hrs and 11 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

On June 8, 2010, while on a book tour for his best-selling memoir, Hitch-22, Christopher Hitchens was stricken in his New York hotel room with excruciating pain in his chest and thorax. As he would later write in the first of a series of award-winning columns for Vanity Fair, he suddenly found himself being deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady." Over the next 18 months, until his death in Houston on December 15, 2011, he wrote constantly and brilliantly on politics and culture, astonishing readers with his capacity for superior work even in extremis.
Throughout the course of his ordeal battling esophageal cancer, Hitchens adamantly and bravely refused the solace of religion, preferring to confront death with both eyes open. In this riveting account of his affliction, Hitchens poignantly describes the torments of illness, discusses its taboos, and explores how disease transforms experience and changes our relationship to the world around us. By turns personal and philosophical, Hitchens embraces the full panoply of human emotions as cancer invades his body and compels him to grapple with the enigma of death.
Mortality is the exemplary story of one man's refusal to cower in the face of the unknown, as well as a searching look at the human predicament. Crisp and vivid, veined throughout with penetrating intelligence, Hitchens's testament is a courageous and lucid work of literature, an affirmation of the dignity and worth of man.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Death IS the DARK backing

This short collection of writings done by Christopher Hitchens detailing his experience with cancer, dying and mortality reminds me in no little way of a 21st century Montaigne. While I was expecting Hitchens stoic materialism to jump off the page, I was also surprised by his gentleness. This is a man who loved life. He loved his family. He loved his friends. He loved to think, to write and to speak. Is there any greater testament to a life well-lived than to read or listen to a man's final words and walk away from that experience made better by his spirit and his strength. If "death is", to re-use Bellow's phrase, "the dark backing a mirror needs before it can give off a reflection," than Hitch's life and words were that same mirror's silver.
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- Darwin8u "I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^"

Pure clarity on the topic of death.

Death is never a good thing, but Hitchens once again has spurred my motivation. Live life, and live it well is a good motto. But I don't think you'd ever reach the verve of Hitchens. I've never known of anyone so sure that they are correct, and that their path is the right one. While I didn't always agree with his points, I was never as sure about my opinion as he seemed to be about his.

As I listened on, while I already knew the ending, I could not help but think that Hitchens was too smart, too creative, and too boisterous to not find a way to change the course of this inevitable ending. He gave insight into the plight of cancer patients, and intimate thoughts of the terminally ill. Insights that I think you'd only receive from a dear loved one going through the same illness and treatments. In all of his writing, the one thing I took was a severe pride in humanity. We are but clever animals, and look what we have accomplished. And all of us do what we do while knowing this fate awaits us. What courage it takes to live life like we're not dying. He wrote this with that same unending pride and thoughtfulness that he chastised religious believers for forsaking. Spending life on bended knee for an idea that has been improved upon was not for Hitchens.

Dying while pretending he wasn't going to die was not his way either. He took all of the pain of death, and focused on it. He had to full appreciate what he was going through as he wrote about it. That takes some serious intestinal fortitude, and that was the way of Hitchens.

While my rambling review is not great, I highly recommend this book.
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- Gary R Mitchell

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-04-2012
  • Publisher: Hachette Audio