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A Betrayal of Confidence:
A Review of The Faith of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011), remixed by W. Bull from original photograph by Fri Tanke [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011), remixed by W. Bull from original photograph by Fri Tanke [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

“I have written a wicked book and feel as spotless as the lamb,” wrote Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne, upon finishing Moby Dick. Larry Taunton in his memoir The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, has written no Moby Dick, but rather a narrow, self-serving, deceptive little book. Yet, Taunton does feel quite spotless, untroubled by the fact that he has betrayed the confidence of a dying man who trusted him and is now aiming to profit by that betrayal. To the audience of Socrates in the City, his parting words were not “RIP, Christopher Hitchens,” but “Go out and buy truckloads of books.”

So, Larry Taunton has Judas-kissed and told, and the interesting man who is the subject of this petulant tell-all is made to look vain and shabby. In interview after interview, Taunton is quite smug, soothing his conscience that he has disinterred this icon of the Left, so that others might see the real figure, the struggling human being, who was too prideful to believe. Taunton sees himself not as an opportunist capitalizing on the fame of a controversial figure who cannot sue, but as a simple man of the cloth, ministering to Hitchens in his final days, urging him to come to Jesus. But Hitchens, Taunton suggests, was too concerned about his post mortem life in the public imagination and so would not give up his most defining trait: rage at a God who represented his father whom he hated along with the frustrated homosexuality that Taunton implies was part of Hitchens’ character.

The Christopher Hitchens who emerges in Taunton’s account of their relationship is vain, cheap, vulgar, “dogmatic,” “condescending,” “alcoholic, “gigolo”- like, and above all a fraud. Taunton works very hard to prove that the Hitchens one saw debate was not the real man at all. The glorious cut-glass English accent, the Richard Burtonesque voice – these, according to Taunton, were the affectations of a working class boy with an ambitious mother who sent him off to British boarding schools the family could ill afford to learn the manner and style of the upper class. In actual life, according to Taunton, Hitchens was no “champion of the oppressed,” but rather a tyrannical, childish man who railed at the underclass whom he both hated and feared. Hitchens’ legendary skill in debate? This Taunton dismisses as style over substance and crows about his own debate with the dying Hitchens. By the time Hitchens debated Taunton, he was three months from death. Taunton confesses to having prepared for the debate by watching Hitchens on YouTube in a manner that recalls Max Schmelling viewing old films of Joe Louis to “discover” the great fighter’s glass jaw. Taunton states that he went into the debate, calm in his conviction that Hitchens was an “actor”—that he “fake[d] an understanding of Dostoevsky or Pascal,” that he intimidated his opponents by “bluffing them into overestimating his intellectual prowess, ” and that Taunton himself was more knowledgeable about all things theological, so he takes a kind of childish pleasure in besting the lion in winter, who in his youth at the Oxford Union would have crucified an inferior opponent such as Taunton.

The Faith of Christopher Hitchens (book cover)

But what is most curious and what leaks out without Tauton’s even being aware is his jealousy of and near obsession with demeaning Christopher Hitchens. In psychologizing this man of infinite variety, in attempting to explain away his atheism as a frustrated father complex, Taunton reveals more about himself than he does his subject. After an insufferable demurral in the preface in which he describes undergoing a Gethsemane of conscience before yielding to the moral obligation to tell Hitchens’ story and set matters right, Taunton makes a mad dash to Hitchens’ early years in English boarding schools where he dwells at length on his “smallish,” “slightly built,” “underdeveloped, “and “rather girlish” stature. Hitchens’ homosexual encounters in these schools Taunton contrasts unfavorably with C. S. Lewis’ stated resistance to such temptations. Taunton’s inability to see an incipient heroism in Hitchens who, like Shelley whom he often quoted, endured beating after beating at Eton betrays the provincialism of Taunton’s own life. He appears to know nothing at all of the rudiments of an upper class English education, so can neither understand nor appreciate the threats posed to a boy’s identity by the regimen of boarding school life.

Winning Hitchens’ soul is never what Taunton was after, but something far more primitive: to dishonor a man who represents his father, but one who cannot/could not fight back.

Although Hitchens insists in his own memoir that it was exposure to the arbitrary cruelty of the Leys School (“beating, bullying, buggery”) that made a lifelong infidel of him, Taunton insists it was his “kind, gentle” (too gentle for Taunton) father, Eric Hitchens, who hurled his son into the devil’s hands. Hitchens should have “honor[ed]” this father, Taunton insists. Recalling a famous moment in The Great Gatsby, Taunton maintains that Hitchens believed to his dying day that he, like Fitzgerald’s hero, had “sprung from the platonic conception of himself,” never realizing that he was not “self-created.” And then, in the most bizarre episode in the book, Taunton launches into a tirade about his own father (“an alcoholic with a mean streak”), who spurned religion, made fun of evangelists, smoked, drank and “loved being pursued” by those seeking to save his soul. As a boy, Taunton recalls “a steady stream of preachers, counselors and amateur evangelists” who came calling and his father’s professed disdain but secret delight at the attention lavished upon him. Then, he confers upon his father a greatness the facts of his life don’t bear out: He was, Taunton declares, “a man not so different from Christopher Hitchens.” And so, one might be tempted to turn the tables on Taunton and suggest that, in this book, winning Hitchens’ soul is never what he was after, but something far more primitive. What he tries to do in this book is to dishonor a man who represents his father, but one who cannot/could not fight back.

Thus, with the mission to destroy, Taunton cannot admit into his narrative anything that would alter the images he has carefully crafted of both himself and his subject. There are no references to Mortality, the memoir that Hitchens wrote as he lay dying. When the esophageal cancer had ravaged him, had almost wrested from him his most distinctive gift, his voice, Hitchens wrote that he felt himself to be in the hands of a “blind, emotionless alien” whose mission it was to “colonize” his lung and render him a eunuch. Cancer’s “banality,” he writes, forced upon him its requisite indignities (“countless minor horrors”) which he chooses not to disclose and makes of him an alien to himself. To questions of “Why me?” Hitchens responds, “Why not?” And yet, although he refuses to don the cultural patois of “fighting” cancer, he proclaims that he will “debate and lecture with the last breath that’s in me.”

Thus, in Mortality, Hitchens looks unblinkingly at this foe, knows he cannot win, and yet in Faulknerian style, refuses to surrender his puny, inexhaustible voice. His closing reference to Philip Larkin’s “Aubade” assails the ridiculous notion that if one does not believe in a God or a Devil, one should not fear to die. Death, Hitchens, claims brings “extinction,” the sense that one never was. And that thought, while we are alive to entertain it, Hitchens insists, must give us pause. As his memoir comes to a close, there is a Greek-like, stark recognition in “hav[ing] come to this sad end.”

But this Hitchens, the man who looked without a shred of self-pity upon his own decaying body, never gets into Taunton’s memoir. The man we meet instead has none of Hitchens’ élan, none of his charm, mischief, or wit. Wit, as Gore Vidal was fond of observing, is unknown to most Americans who prefer the belly laugh and the slip on the banana peel. Wit, which requires both a sense of irony and a heightened responsiveness to language and repartee, is what moved Vidal to baptize Hitchens as his “dauphin.” Taunton with his plodding, literal cast of mind is in no position to appreciate Hitchens’ gifts, and one cannot fault him for not lacking a quality that defined his subject. But one can fault him for suggesting that Hitchens flirted with religious conversion. Like every unreliable narrator, Taunton displays a self that is at once both needy and proud. To claim, as he does, that he almost brought the legendary atheist to Jesus is his misprision. He could not see that Hitchens at the end of his life was terrified of extinction, of annihilation and that his lifelong restless intellectual curiosity allowed him to ponder other possibilities, but never to entertain them seriously.

Much of Hitchens’ life was devoted to attacking the belief in a deity that “reward[s] cowardice and dishonesty.” In this memoir, Taunton exhibits both qualities: he is both craven and dissembling. If the tables were turned, and Hitchens had placed on display the more ignoble moments of Taunton’s own life, he might have realized the truth of that old saw, “No man is a hero to his valet.” The Christopher Hitchens that Taunton constructs—a cheap, fraudulent, snobbish man—is all part of a shrewd marketing strategy to tear down the iconoclast whose final rejection of Taunton’s proffered salvation left the minister, it would seem, with a sense of meaninglessness and lack of purpose, and so in an effort to combat his own self-doubt, he rushed his memoir into print with a catchy title designed to insure the swipe of many credit cards but which was, in fact, a boldfaced lie: The Faith of Christopher Hitchens. END

About the author

Kathleen J. Schultheis earned her doctoral degree in English literature at the University of Southern California. Her dissertation was on Gore Vidal, who christened Christopher Hitchens, “my delpino,” which is Italian for “dauphin.” Until their disagreement over the Iraq War, Vidal and Hitchens were close friends. Currently, Schultheis is teaching Advanced Placement American literature in Oak Park High School in Oak Park, California. She was a recovering Catholic. Now she is just recovering.

74 Comments

  1. Si says:

    Stunning review!

    • aqk (Tony King) says:

      As good a review as, if not better than, the reviews in the New Yorker and The Atlantic, by Lawrence Krauss and David Frum respectively.
      And a pox upon the uncertain NYT reviewer.

  2. 123elle says:

    Thank you for this impassioned setting right of a libel whose disingenuousness I can’t even comprehend. Having not read what appears to be a self-serving abomination, and not planning to nauseate myself with it, I’ll trust Ms. Schultheis’s spontaneous assessment. Taunton seems to have exploited the undeserved gift of a relationship with Hitchens, a superior intellect and human, at a terrible time in Hitchens’s proud life. I can imagine Taunton putting forward a craven, Uriah Heepish affect when they were together, to manipulate the better man and piggyback a “tell-all” lie on his fame. I am convinced that one can’t trust a single line of this book. In Hitchens’s honor, we should all reject it.

    • Ross says:

      I wouldn’t bet that Hitch, as he lay on his deathbed, didn’t purposely “taunt” this stupid ass into writing just such a book, thereby winning in almost typical Hitchens fashion this last of many such debates with inferior opposition.

  3. ChrisG says:

    Hitchens beat the drum for the war in Iraq and history will not be kind to those that did. His aethism and upbringing are just footnotes to this fact.

    • Colin Hall says:

      Hitchens’ atheism and his courageous refusal to give in to the petty-minded, vicious, mendacious and fundamentally dishonest attacks by the self-righteous supporters of ‘faith’ should be praised, remembered and emulated till we rid the world of superstition and its suppurating pustules, the world’s (especially monotheistic) religions. Many feel that his support for the Iraq war was wrong, but it was a sincerely held belief of his that he tenaciously defended against much opposition. Let us all make sure that it is this mistake of his that is relegated to being a footnote, and not his crowning achievement: a vigorous, public, unwavering defence of rational, scientific thinking.

      • Elena Maksimova says:

        I concur except for the assessment of Hitchen’s support for the war in Iraq. With the information available at the time Sadam Hussain and his regime had to go. Like Stalin the tyrant’s paranoia and blood-thirsty revenge had caused the death and suffering of so many. Tyrants or psychopaths are immune to the usual diplomatic pressures. Forceful removal seem to be only solution albeit one that may unfortunately destabilize the region and cause more misery. Too high a price? Hm…

    • graham ferreira says:

      Hi ChrisG that sounds like a Tauntonism.

    • aqk (Tony King) says:

      @ChrisG …
      Oh, pish-posh!
      Now, if Hitchens had done a deathbed conversion on his Iraq War statements, this would have been truly admirable, albeit a minor footnote to his legacy.

    • Tracy Picabia says:

      I can easily understand Hitchen’s support for the war in Iraq – whilst being totally against it myself, at the time and in retrospect – because I can remember what a genocidal gangster Saddam was. Can you? Yes, I know there are many more genocidal gangsters out there, and yes, its usually a disaster to go to war with them especially if you have the ulterior motives of the US but …

  4. Berry J. Prinsen says:

    Thank you Kathleen for setting things right for Christopher Hitchens, a man larger than life which is why he obtained the necessary distance to see things in the right perspective.

  5. Mike says:

    This review was a delight to read!

  6. Roy Good says:

    Wonderful review which eliminates any interest in reading the Taunton book.
    One word comes to mind which is rather base and commonly used in parts of the English speaking world but is so apt to describe this vindictive Christian – ‘wanker’. It’s also I think one that Hitchens would appreciate and raise a knowing smile at.

  7. awc says:

    Have not read the book and have no insight into the subject matter.

    The phrase “Them sounds like fighting words” comes to mind though

  8. Felipe says:

    Great review. Larry seems to have created a fiction that would allow him to win (after the fact) all of the debates for any and all theists that Hitchens had railed against, as well as bolster his own ego and make some money doing it. Of course, he had to wait until Hitchens was well and truly dead as Hitchens is not in any state to naysay this garbage.

  9. Roo Bookaroo says:

    This article might have been more illuminating if Kathleen Schultheis had spent a few lines at the very start to remind us of who Taunton exactly was, the duration and modes of his interactions with Hitchens, and the length of his effective interviews of his subject.
    Kathleen Schultheis writes as if all this was already known of us, which is not necessarily the case, even if we know enough of Hitchens, his beliefs, and his public persona.
    I feel sure enough to trust this writer in her correct assessment of Taunton’s book, but it would have immensely helped me at least to place the real objective interaction of those two men in perspective.
    Was Taunton his valet, his assistant, his friend, or what? My question seems naive to members of the Hitchens cult, but taking into account the need to initially describe the setting of her story has value and deserved some description at the very start of her article — instead of the relatively irrelevant reference to Melville and Hawthorne, used only to signal the high literary background of the writer.

    • NedL says:

      Roo Bookaroo: yes, I agree. I had no idea who Taunton is or what his relationship with Hitchens was. That context would have helped, although the message of the review comes through loud and clear on its own.

  10. GerryB says:

    This is a great review; a brilliant shredding of a vindictive betrayal.

  11. SkeleTony says:

    It is no wonder that these days I do not often encounter Christians who still claim the moral high ground. From the evangelicals supporting Trump to this Taunton character it seems a good many of them have just said “F*ck it! I don’t care anymore and want to make money just as bad as anyone else.” or “Yeah I tried not being a racist and now our country is full of people and points of view I do not understand so…TRUMP 2016!”.

    In a way this comes as as an “See…we told you you were as moral and immoral as humanity in general.” but it is still kind of sad because for all of the nonsense they were spewing on this matter at least they were trying. Now it seems they are resigned to bearing as much false witness as they possibly can, selling as much fraud as they can manufacture and defending some of the worst people known.

  12. MarioCanarin says:

    Brilliant review of a really dishonest cowards vindictive betrayal of a great, irreplaceable man. Thank you.

  13. DAVID ROBERT WOOTEN says:

    Brilliant review!!! Quite amazing how the “good” minister has set himself up in a flawless glass house, and set about at casting stones without, safely ensconced in what would otherwise be a tenuous fortress, never fearing reprisal, as his enemy no longer has the ammunition (save in his own writings and films) nor energy to return volley. Quite a petty offering, and method, for cashing in on the death of one of this, and the last, century’s great minds – and speakers. Best wishes to the author of the book for a quick relocation to the remainders’ section…

  14. Chris Marrington says:

    I am not one given to hero worship but Mr Hitchens comes closer to fulfilling that role for me than anyone. He had his faults, no doubt, who among us doesn’t?
    What we should remember him for are his devastating debating skills, his almost freakish powers of recall, his self-deprecating intellect and his wicked sense of humour.
    Christopher Hitchens will be loved and revered long after this tawdry little vicar has turned to dust. RIP Christopher Hitchens. You left far too soon.

  15. pam wright says:

    Unable to win any debate with Christopher while he lived, this “tawdry little vicar” (thanks to Chris Marrington) has leaped to profit from the discredit of a dead genius. Pathetic theists will rejoice..but, of course, they would anyway.

  16. Alien Nomad says:

    Why write the truth or base it on facts when you can just make it all up? Larry Taunton is only following the tradition of his theist upbringing.

  17. amoron says:

    I always knew Hitchens was hypocritical and grossly less intelligent than widely believed. It really shines through when the people he’s debating have actually read his work.

  18. craig says:

    Although I am sympathetic, being a Hitchens fan, this comes across more like a pit bull attacking a pot roast than a book review.

  19. William Bill Fish says:

    Great review. Someone needed to tell the truth about Taunton. How much money did Taunton make on this ‘book’?

  20. JoAnn Moore says:

    Thank you for this remarkably lucid review.

  21. Rick Ferris says:

    Nice job! Taunton deserves tauntin’.

  22. jimbo for reason says:

    Well-written article Ms. Schultheis! I’ve read several other articles, with additional pages of Taunton’s book…what a fraud! Slimy, slimy…to misrepresent a man after death… to sell books.

  23. GregP says:

    If loyalty is paramount, this is a betrayal. If truth is paramount, this is a service to it.

  24. ian tarnbis says:

    A brilliant, tranchant review.

  25. Hypatia says:

    Thank you, Kathleen Schulweis, for doing so well and so passionately what I – among many — felt NEEDED to be done after Taunton’s disgusting slime bomb. Perhape a just Fate will recompense him for his cowardly attack.

  26. realthog says:

    A fascinating and very enjoyable polemic — many thanks. I’m not sure, though, why there’s an Amazon link in the last line for Taunton’s book.

  27. Steve says:

    I’m not going to read such a silly book. Somebody should turn in Taunton to his judicatory – assuming he’s ordained clergy – for violating the confidences of a communicant. Every conversation with clergy, whether with a congregant or another, must be entirely privileged and never disclosed in any form, including after the communicant’s death.

  28. Bob Pease says:

    this is a review of a book by a weirdo about another weirdo by a whozzis.

    I would like more substance in this venue

    thankew

    DR. Sidethink Hp.D
    Prof of Weirdology
    BobbDobbs University
    Trump GA.

  29. BillG says:

    Hitchens bread and butter was to take the contrarian view – in which Taunton envisions about his assumed confidant and attempts to make toast.
    But do we really know those that we admire or conversely, our anti-heroes?
    To a degree, all writers use hyperbole and elaboration in which Tauton seems to employ.
    This also included Hitch. But not unlike any adept artist or writer we can fall into the narrative and gloss over untruths or inconsistencies.
    It’s doubtful Hitch was a fraud, but we are all
    “performers and portrayers” and he was a master at the game of debate – usually the correct side.
    I question that Tauton can match that.

  30. John Quinn says:

    Great review! Now get on with channeling Hitch in writing “Wanker: The Story of a Tawdry Little Vicar”

  31. Moe says:

    Great review! 👏
    Totally agree with all the points you make.

  32. Richard Fall says:

    “No man is a hero to his valet.”

    Nor to his doctor, I might add.

    It seems to me that Hitchens, like all of us, was merely human, and while we aspire to lofty standards in our personal philosophies, when we are at our lowest and most vulnerable, as thinking individuals we can entertain that we might, just might, be wrong.

    That does not make us weak, and it does not mean what we “really believe” only appears at the end of our lives. It means we are human.

    I hope I have half the courage Hitchens did when I reach the end of my life. And that those who survive me do not retell the tale of my end in such a self-serving manner as Taunton.

  33. Samuel Hughes Milligan says:

    It has always amazed me that believers cannot understand that others can disbelieve with equal conviction.

  34. Mike sanders says:

    Wonderful and accurate revue. Congratulations. Wonder why michael shermer gave the book such a positive review? The bile appears in the first few paragraphs of the book and seems so obvious that shermer should have noted it.

  35. Charles C. Andrews says:

    Thank you, Ms. Kathleen, (and to all the commenters above) for a wonderful review (and comments) saying for me that which I am unable to compose (as Evolution did not “gift” me with wit or irony, which I admire so much especially as practiced by Hitch.) Having purchased the book under the perception it would be a legitimate effort, I was shocked to read the back stabbing Judas betrayal and Christian whine betraying their espoused principals; I want my money back!

  36. Melkat says:

    The Atlantic had quite a take-down as well. On some level people like Taunton just absolutely, positively, categorically refuse to believe that anyone could absolutely, positively, categorically reject what they are selling, and they cannot stand be bested in the argument, so they end up answering with innuendos and slurs. Reminds me a lot of some other narcissistic public figure — the description suits them both down to a “T”.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/06/larry-tauntons-the-faith-of-christopher-hitchens-a-betrayal-to-reader-and-subject/486164/

  37. Olaf Von Haegele says:

    Theists still think they have an argument? Total waste of time/space. We need to stop giving naive pondering the satisfaction of acknowledgement. As for Hitchins, this made up drivel is meaningless. Not even interesting as it is fiction based on wishes of the author; but in line with how a theist mind works. Hitchins wins again, and as usual those with contorted minds might fail to recognize this.

  38. Vanwin says:

    All I can say to this conniving pretender is “Get thee behind me Satan”.
    Christopher never left us in any doubt in any way about his beliefs and to my dying day I know what he said was the truth. Christopher was an absolutely brilliant man who would not have put up with this rubbish.
    I do not want to hear another single word from this Taunton, ever.

  39. Samuel Hughes Milligan says:

    It’s nice to imagine that when Mr. Taunton dies, someone will do an equivalent smear job on his life. But alas for him, I doubt that few people will notice his absence.

  40. Pablo Z says:

    Christopher hitchens can be arrogant and rude to people. But wait, If you’re rude towards him it’s wrong. Embarassing.

  41. t paine says:

    Yes Kathleen, but did you like the book?

  42. Gary says:

    Thanks so much for standing up for Christopher and calling Mr.Taunton out for the greedy, phony jerk he must be.

  43. Michael S says:

    Let’s not forget that Hitch warned of the intellectually dishonest who would try to claim a “deathbed conversion” for him, much as they had done to Charles Darwin and other non-believers. I love the comparisons of Taunton to the evangelical followers of Donald Trump, who have absolutely no problem sleeping at night after replicating lie after lie supporting their pathetic causes. And shame on Taunton for claiming to know Hitch and pretending to have a deep and personal relationship with him. I would much rather read about Hitch through his real friends like Martin Amis, Salman Rushdie and Ian McEwan.

  44. Vincent Saia says:

    Although the author makes a convincing argument this “icon of the left,” supported the Iraq War and was subsequently rebuffed by Gore Vidal as his “dauphin.”

  45. Greg Stott says:

    Such a brillant, incisive review deserves much wider circulation!

  46. Damian says:

    Excellent review on a bandwagon hopping wan2b

  47. Paul cripps says:

    Bravo Ross, I think near the end,Hicthens probably needed a good laugh.

  48. Eric Berendt says:

    Hey, folks…at least those of you who haven’t yet understood the incredible, despicable, intensity of the foes of reason. (read something, anything,by Anne Coulter) Reason, intelligent understanding, fact-based-argument only exists among those of us who value a shared reality. These other folks are just spouting off:they heard it from Rush. Shutting ’em up would be unconstitutional. Not that it wouldn’t be wonderful to expose their utter contempt for the rights that they enjoy.
    The big problem is that stupidity should only hurt the stupid. This review shows us that the stupid are still in power.
    Let’s change that.

  49. TOM GARVEY says:

    I wonder the process of the Taunton mind in offering a ride to Hitch and then using the unknown responses from him as if Hitch decided to confess to a theist that he now favors a god. My hope is when this betrayer of a dying Icon is near death that an atheist will visit his bedside and tell him Hitch left a note asking that you repent and announce your deathbed conversion to atheism and accept your dust to dust future.

  50. Jenny H says:

    I think Taunton sounds sick. Sick with envy.

  51. Matthew Rodriguez says:

    Well done.

  52. Anthony Kellett says:

    That review is an excellent, insightful piece of work; and it deserves to be read far wider than will likely be the case (except I’d sneakily correct “one cannot fault him for [not] lacking a quality that defined his subject” – sorry, I’m a pedAnt).

  53. Dave Matson says:

    I am grateful for this review which exposes the vicious, delusional, dishonest agenda of Taunton, something that insect dared to put into print only after the great lion had died. It’s a mystery to me why Hitchens would have associated with this proselytizer in the first place.

    I’m not up on the life and times of Hitchens, but one need only read one of his books to recognize a sharp mind at work.

  54. JC says:

    Hitch sucked. Won’t read a biography about him anyway. Atheist preachers spend too much time celebrating themselves, hoping to attract enough co-dependent sheople to their flock from the leftovers at churches and martial art schools.

  55. sittingbytheriver says:

    This is a wonderful incisive review. Thank you.

  56. Alan Hill says:

    Taunton you are a disingenuous tow-rag. How dare you. The man is dead. I would like to meet you face to face. Perhaps not. I might get arrested. Maybe reincarnation is at work here. Judas.

  57. Robert says:

    Great piece! I am sure Hitch would raise a glass to your literary skill.
    Is your dissertation on Gore Vidal available anywhere?

  58. Michael says:

    EXCELLENT review! Thanks.

  59. OldNassau says:

    Lady Hope:Darwin::Taunton:Hitchens

  60. L. Kirk Hagen says:

    Taunton starts his dreadful book with the promise of a “remarkable plot twist;” a promise Taunton seems to have forgotten about by book’s end. But we do get loads of pontification along the way, like “my objective is not to recount his life, but to give some account for his soul,” or “I happen to know that Jesus’ words reverberated in his mind,” or even “Christopher briefly contemplated the blackness of the abyss before casting himself headlong and eternally into it.” Taunton is a mind-reader, soul-reader, and ironically a stellar example of the self-righteous charlatans Hitch warned us about all his life. What a perfect take-down by Kathleen Schultheis!

  61. Doug Crowe says:

    Appreciated the review, but just a little ‘head scratching’ over the phrase “and one cannot fault him for not lacking a quality that defined his subject”. Perhaps I’m not equipped with the wit being addressed in the paragraph, but it seems that the double negative “for not lacking” changes the point of the sentence, to say Taunton DOES have a quality that his subject, Hitchens, has. Minor point, especially if I’m wrong; I still admired Hitchens greatly.

  62. fredrik sundberg says:

    Christopher Hitchens knew even Before his Death that there would be people that would claim that he transformed and become a believer in a deity.
    This book is claiming that he actually did that.
    Even if that’s true, it’s still bad behaviour from the author claiming what he does, especially when there’s no CH to either confirm or denie it.

  63. A. Rose says:

    Great review of a book that only rinds us of what a towering figure Hitch was.

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Top 10 Myths of Terrorism

Is Terrorism an Existential Threat?

This free booklet reveals 10 myths that explain why terrorism is not a threat to our way of life or our survival.

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The Top 10 Weirdest Things

The Top Ten Strangest Beliefs

Michael Shermer has compiled a list of the top 10 strangest beliefs that he has encountered in his quarter century as a professional skeptic.

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Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten Our Future (paperback cover)

Who believes them? Why? How can you tell if they’re true?

What is a conspiracy theory, why do people believe in them, and why do they tend to proliferate? Why does belief in one conspiracy correlate to belief in others? What are the triggers of belief, and how does group identity factor into it? How can one tell the difference between a true conspiracy and a false one?

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The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

The Science Behind Why People See Ghosts

Do you know someone who has had a mind altering experience? If so, you know how compelling they can be. They are one of the foundations of widespread belief in the paranormal. But as skeptics are well aware, accepting them as reality can be dangerous…

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Top 10 Myths About Evolution

Top 10 Myths About Evolution (and how we know it really happened)

If humans came from apes, why aren’t apes evolving into humans? Find out in this pamphlet!

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Learn to be a Psychic in 10 Easy Lessons

Learn to do Psychic “Cold Reading” in 10
Easy Lessons

Psychic readings and fortunetelling are an ancient art — a combination of acting and psychological manipulation.

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