Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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A Dissenting Voice: Conversation with Christopher Hitchens; April 25, 2002, by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest today is Christopher Hitchens, a man of letters who writes a regular column for Vanity Fair and for The Nation. He is the author of numerous books, most recently, Letters to a Young Contrarian and Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere. He is the 2002 Sanford Elberg Lecturer at the University of California at Berkeley.

  1. Background ... influence of parents ... education ... rooted cosmopolitan ... formative political experiences
  2. Dissent ... in one's nature ... impact of the sixties ... hypocrisy of Bill Clinton ... culmination in the 1989 revolutions
  3. Writing ...destiny ... the independent writer ... the failure of liberal writers ... words come easily ... about audiences ... Orwell and "a power of facing unpleasant facts" ... the power of the pen ... wringing truth from power
  4. Taking on the Icons ... liberal illusions: Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, Bill Clinton ... abdication of responsibility; living vicariously ... America as home ... American illusions about the British ... Marxist confronting post-socialism ... confused left response to 9/11 ... U.S. debt to Afghanistan ... globalization of human rights ... the case of Henry Kissinger ... writing about politics versus writing about literature
  5. Conclusion ... advice to writing students ... witnessing change in the world

See also: Hitchens's Elberg lecture in streaming video.

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