Letters to a Young Contrarian by Christopher Hitchens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Hitchens really seems to enjoy being a role model in this book. He has a very charmingly insolent manner when he shares his work as a contrarian, which makes this fun to read. It's not so charming if you don't already agree with his views on religion, socialism, politics, etc. However, he does drop advice that contrarians of all sides can benefit from. Among them: how to avoid groupthink, why you should avoid identity politics, how to deal with opposition, and so on.
The one thing that annoyed me about this book was that it had many obscure socialist/classical liberal references without footnotes. At least, it was obscure for a well-read college student which appears to be his audience.
I'm too conflict-avoidant to be a contrarian, but I do love entertaining radical ideas. This book helped me by showing how I can become more resistent to social pressure and sophistry. That way, I can be more objective when judging ideas. This book is ideal for college students in my generation. It's a short read (141 pages) and it does address our powerful desire to change the world for the better. Right now, a lot of students are getting mired in identity politics and the results are just as bad as Hitchens claims they are. If I ever get into a conversation with a social justice supporter/activist, I would recommend this book to them with the hope that it will help channel their rage and passion into more productive endeavors.
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