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Mortality summary

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens’ essays on dying

4.2 (132 ratings)
11 mins

Brief summary

Mortality by Christopher Hitchens is a powerful memoir that reflects on the author's own death, offering insights into life's brevity, wonder, and uncertainty.

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    When he was diagnosed with cancer, Hitchens saw how uncomfortable people are with the idea of death.

    British-American journalist, writer and literary critic Christopher Hitchens was on a book tour in 2010 when he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. There he was forced to confront the weight of his mortality, after doctors diagnosed him with esophageal cancer.

    Hitchens was overwhelmed by the idea of his death; it’s true that most people don’t think about mortality until they absolutely must. Hitchens’s terminal diagnosis made him realize how many life milestones he would miss, such as his children getting married, or the birth of grandchildren.

    Even though the concept of mortality was difficult to grasp, the reality of death became part of daily life as Hitchens suffered through the pain of his disease and extensive cancer treatments.

    Hitchens also realized how awkward people became when interacting with a terminal patient. Some of his friends didn’t know what to say, other than recounting “motivational” stories of people who had survived the disease.

    For some, such stories might be comforting ‒ but Hitchens didn’t find them helpful as the stories offered no practical information on how he could cheat death.

    Other friends avoided the topic of mortality altogether, telling him instead to fight on. This made Hitchens feel as if he would be a failure if he were to die.

    All these experiences made him realize just how uncomfortable most people are with the idea of death.

    Hitchens eventually came up with a set of rules aimed at making his friends more comfortable. When people inquired as to his health, Hitchens tried to be honest. If being honest was difficult, he told jokes.

    If a friend asked how he was feeling, for example, he might answer, “Well, I feel like cancer.”

    Mortality forced Hitchens to reevaluate his life and change the way he related to other people.

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    What is Mortality about?

    Mortality (2012) presents a collection of essays written by Christopher Hitchens after he was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. In these blinks, you’ll explore fundamental questions addressing death and life, the nature of pain and how we cope with them.

    Mortality Review

    Mortality (2012) by Christopher Hitchens is a thought-provoking exploration of life's ultimate certainty – death. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • The book offers a raw and honest reflection on the author's own journey with terminal illness, providing unique insights into the human experience of facing mortality.
    • Through sharp intellect and profound introspection, Hitchens contemplates the meaning of life, religion, and the fragility of existence, challenging readers to question their own beliefs.
    • Hitchens' witty and engaging writing style creates a captivating narrative, making the book a compelling page-turner that keeps readers on their toes.

    Best quote from Mortality

    I dont have a body, I am a body.

    —Christopher Hitchens
    example alt text

    Who should read Mortality?

    • People curious about questions of mortality
    • Cancer patients or anyone struggling with a potentially terminal illness
    • Religious leaders or anyone examining faith in the face of disease

    About the Author

    A journalist, author, literary critic and political activist, Christopher Hitchens focused on the topics of religion, science and atheism. He died in December 2011.

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    Mortality FAQs 

    What is the main message of Mortality?

    The main message of Mortality is a raw and honest exploration of life, death, and the human condition.

    How long does it take to read Mortality?

    The reading time for Mortality varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is Mortality a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Mortality is a thought-provoking read that offers deep insights into our mortality. It's definitely worth diving into.

    Who is the author of Mortality?

    The author of Mortality is Christopher Hitchens.

    What to read after Mortality?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Mortality, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Missionary Position by Christopher Hitchens
    • The Undying by Anne Boyer
    • Enlightenment Now by Steven Pinker
    • Outgrowing God by Richard Dawkins
    • God Is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    • The Trial of Henry Kissinger by Christopher Hitchens
    • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
    • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    • With the End in Mind by Kathryn Mannix
    • From Strength to Strength by Arthur C. Brooks