A book summary by Marin Mikulic

Lettes to a Young Contrarian, by Christopher Hitchens

Cover of The Letters To a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens

My rating: 9/10

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Letters to a Young Contrarian is a series of letters written to the “to the young and the restless”, but relevant to anyone who wants to retain control over their own opinions. Hitchens’s sentences are direct, powerful and utterly unapologetic. He had a profound influence on me by reminding me that responsibility lies on my shoulders.

Book Notes

  • A hundred years after the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a hundred years after the supreme act of tolerance and emancipation, we go back to religious warfare, to the most odious and the most stupid of fanaticisms!
  • Frederick Douglass announced that those who expected truth or justice without a struggle were like those who could imagine the sea without an image of the tempest.
  • …moment of near despair is quite often the moment that precedes courage rather than resignation.
  • Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the “transcendent” and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.