The opening two chapters of Christopher Hitchens's Hitch-22 (Atlantic Books, £20), on his mother and father, are among the most affecting pieces of writing that I know in English. Admittedly the book proves how difficult it is to write about the revolutionary student movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Even Hitchens's engaging prose tires as it recounts the minutiae of leftist politics. But his account of his retreat from his revolutionary beliefs is compelling and he makes as good a fist as it is possible to make of his unacceptable cheerleading for George W Bush's invasion of Iraq. The portraits are acute, particularly his memories of Edward Said. It is a book that I shall reread.