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Monday, October 09, 2006

Somesuch on Snyder and Hitchens

I meant to get around to this yesterday, when it was reviewed favorably in the NYT, but I didn't so I'll do it now: Brad Snyder, whom I met through mutual friends some years back, has a new book out entitled, A Well-Paid Slave: Curt Flood's Fight for Free Agency in Professional Sports .   If you're a fan of baseball and the law, which is an intersection that has its own burgeoning literature, then you'll want to check out Snyder's book, or his earlier one, Beyond the Shadow of the Senators: The Untold Story of the Homestead Grays and the Integration of Baseball.

Also, this week's New Yorker is the Media Issue, and included is an absolutely riveting profile of Christopher Hitchens.  The profile sadly is not on-line, even though TNY's PR people have sent along PDF's of the article in their weekly buzzmaker. (I find this somewhat maddening!)  Anyway, here are some of the teasers:

“Until not long ago,” Parker writes, Hitchens “was a valued asset of the American left: an intellectual willing to show his teeth in the cause of righteousness. Today, Hitchens supports the Iraq war and is contemptuous of those who do not—a turn that has confused and dismayed former comrades, and brought him into odd new
alliances.” Parker details the key steps in Hitchens’s transformation, including the events of 9/11, which Hitchens saw as ushering in, as he told an interviewer in 2003, “a war to the finish between everything I love and everything I hate.” Parker writes that Hitchens “has not flinched from his position that the invasion was necessary, nor declined any serious invitation to defend that position publicly, even as the violence in Iraq has increased, and American opinion has turned against the intervention and the President who launched it.” Colin Robinson, Hitchens’s former editor at Verso Books, tells Parker, “I hope it might be possible to save some bits of Christopher. It’s a terrible loss to the left.” Parker spends time with Hitchens both at his home in Washington, D.C., and in Northern California.
He writes, “Hitchens has the life that a spirited thirteen-year-old boy might hope adulthood to be: he wakes up when he likes, works from home, is married to someone who wears leopard-skin high heels, and conducts heady, serious discussions late into the night."

Posted by Administrators on October 9, 2006 at 09:49 AM in Law and Politics | Permalink


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I don't want to defend Hitchens's politics, or even the substance of his writings. There are any number of websites where you can find leftist criticisms of his work, and one wonders what conservatives would say (and have said) about the vast quantity of his pre-9/11 work that he hasn't explicitly dismissed. But the guy's a fantastic polemicist. Even when I disagree with him, I very much enjoy his ability to wield sentences and words as vicious, entertaining weapons.

Posted by: Mark Fenster | Oct 9, 2006 3:55:32 PM

I'll look forward to reading that. I've hated Hitchens ever since he wrote a scathing and unfair review of a book about Robert F. Kennedy that gave Kennedy no credit for his late life transformation. Hitchens doesn't seem to be principled at all to my jaundiced eye, his career arc reminds me of what (I believe) Saul Bellows said about a conversation with Irving Kristol, that Kristol said "I'm turning to the right." And Bellows recalled thinking "What? Are we in traffic?" So, I think Hitchens figured out that there was a lot more hay to be made from being the ex-leftist than there was to being a leftist, and he went where, as Eric Alterman has noted, the scotch bills took him. All he had to do was tap into his genetic jingoistic heritage. A touch of Kipling, dash of Churchill, mix and serve. Now that the right's moment is just about over, I wonder what he'll do.

Posted by: Bart Motes | Oct 9, 2006 11:32:32 AM

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