Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) was a British-American journalist and social critic. Known for his confrontational style and contrarian views on a range of social issues, Hitchens was a frequent contributor to The Nation, The Atlantic, The Times Literary Supplement and Vanity Fair. Hitchens recounts his struggle with esophageal cancer in Mortality, which was published in 2012.

IN THE REVIEW

Orwell’s List

It is easy enough for me to say that George Orwell was essentially right about the three great twentieth-century issues of fascism, Stalinism, and empire, and that he was enabled to be right by a certain insistence on intellectual integrity and independence. The question arises, was it possible for him …

Bad Guy Number One

Wainewright the Poisoner: The Confessions of Thomas Griffiths Wainewright

Andrew Motion
Of all our customary critical expressions, the word “Romantic” has probably suffered the most from diminishing returns. Its protean character can be seen in the contradictions of ordinary speech, where a romantic “interlude,” for example, is rather a good thing whereas a romantic “scheme” is rather not. The Decline and …

Lord Trouble

Bosie: A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas

by Douglas Murray
In Berlin in 1892, Max Nordau published his extraordinary book Entartung, or “Degeneration.” Dedicated to the pseudoscientist and (let me risk a tautology) phrenologist Cesare Lombroso, this dense and lengthy diatribe sought to lay bare the origins and effects of national and individual self-hatred and self-destructiveness. Directed at the languor …

O’Brian’s Great Voyage

Blue at the Mizzen

by Patrick O'Brian

Patrick O'Brian: A Life Revealed

by Dean King
On any approximately proportionate view of history, of the kind that may become more gradually available to us as the long day of the twentieth century wanes, the Napoleonic conflict would deserve to be called the First World War. Never before had two great powers and their volatile allies mobilized …

The Real Thing

Headlong

by Michael Frayn
A few weeks ago, his lordship the Earl of Wemyss and March, master of Gosford House in the Scottish county of East Lothian, disburdened himself of Botticelli’s exquisite Virgin Adoring the Christ Child for a price of twenty million pounds sterling. Since the buyer was the Kimbell Museum in Texas, …

The Case of Arthur Conan Doyle

Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle

by Daniel Stashower

Holy Clues: The Gospel According to Sherlock Holmes

by Stephen Kendrick
T.S. Eliot’s most successful feline—the depraved Macavity in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats—is well known as a straight lift from Professor Moriarty, the saturnine villain in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem”: He is the Napoleon of crime, Watson. He is the organiser of half that is evil …

The Cosmopolitan Man

The Essential Gore Vidal

edited by Fred Kaplan

The Smithsonian Institution: A Novel

by Gore Vidal
Here is a report from The New York Times of September 12, 1960, written from Poughkeepsie under the byline of Ira Henry Freeman: Gore Vidal, Democratic candidate for Representative in the twenty-ninth Congressional District, sprawled barefoot in a gilded fauteuil of his luxurious octagonal Empire study as he considered the …

Last Summer on the Vineyard

The Gun Runner's Daughter

by Neil Gordon

No Safe Place

by Richard North Patterson
So-called midstream fictions of international intrigue or of American politics—and of the filiations between them—have become almost as dependent as the movies themselves on certain formulae. There are no test-market audiences or focus groups for fiction (if one exempts Tom Wolfe’s repeated trial runs in the pages of Rolling Stone), …