is the title of a book of essays by Christopher Hitchens, published in 2005, which I re-read very recently because I was thinking about him when he died earlier this year. He was such a great writer and such a clear thinker. No-one writing now seems to come close. Unless, readers, you know different...
I thought about Hitch because I happened today, by chance, on an interview with Andy Kershaw, who used to do world music on Radio 4, Kershaw quoted the title and referred in the interview to Hitchens himself. Apparently they went to North Korea together. How cool is that? I used rather to like Kershaw's radio stuff, being a Womad fan and all - the only festival where you spend most of your time with your back to the stage. Anyway, that's in the past - the last Womad festival I went to was in 2003 and I won't be going again, but that is another story.
Kershaw was being interviewed because he was appearing at the Hay festival, so naturally enough he has a book out. Damn, one-click ordering, curse you, there it was on my Kindle before I knew what I was about. You'll remember Andy Kershaw, with his Lancashire accent - he went a bit bonkers a few years ago on the Isle of Man, and was a bit down and out and a fugitive from justice for a while, but now he's a lot better. I thought his book might be interesting. We'll see.
Hitchens was wonderful. In the very first essay in his book he debunks Churchill and prays in aid Josephine Tey's book 'The Daughter of Time' which is one of my great faves - I bought it recently for a young Australian relative who is studying Shakespeare. Where was I? Focus, woman, focus. Ah yes, the Second World War. He reminds us that the British burned the French fleet in north Africa, with many French lives lost, and that the fleet was there to get it away from the Germans, who did not acquire a single vessel. He also reminds us that the Roosevelt administration recognised Vichy France. He points out, probably rightly, that Churchill's demarches were opportunistic, vainglorious, and, crucially, lucky. More Hitchens jewels later. I have to go and celebrate Manchester City's victory with significant other.