Divided we stand: the inside story of Christopher and Peter Hitchens

Rivalrous Hitchens brothers reveal all in moving memoirs.

For anyone interested in faith, politics, postwar British culture or -- a bit more specialist -- the Hitchens brothers, there is something of a feast available in the papers at present.

In the red corner, Christopher Hitchens -- the hard-drinking "anti-theist" who wrote God is Not Great -- is serialising his memoirs in the Sunday Times. In the blue corner, Peter Hitchens -- the sober, right-wing Anglican who thinks the Conservative party is not conservative enough -- is serialising his latest book, The Rage Against God, in the Mail on Sunday.

By way of disclaimer, I should "come out" as something of a Hitchens obsessive. Indeed I once intended to write an unauthorised joint biography of the pair, under the title of this blog, but wrote this rather inadequate profile instead. Probably a good thing, as it can't have been as controversial and interesting as their own efforts.

For that reason, and because in a sense there is too much to say in a blog, I won't say any more, but I would recommend a look at Christopher's latest extract here, and Peter's here, which between them make up two of the most surprisingly moving pieces I've read in some time.

 

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Getty
Show Hide image

Pepys and a nightingale

A new poem by Janet Sutherland.

Pepys wrapped a rag around his little left toe,
it being new sore, and set out walking,
coming by chance upon his nightingale,
which called me back to mine. I saw the past,
to the rear of the farmhouse there were yews,
rifle green and murderous to cattle,
and, once, my father heard a nightingale
so out I went to wait on soft dead ground.
It’s plain, he said, plain brown, just listen and
under a hundredweight of feathered branches,
that crushed the air to a tense silence,
a nightingale sang, out of full darkness.
His heart, as all hearts are, disguised;
a secretive bird in an impenetrable thicket.


Janet Sutherland is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Bone Monkey (Shearsman Books).

This article first appeared in the 12 January 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Putin's revenge