Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British American author and journalist whose career spanned more than four decades. Hitchens, often referred to colloquially as "Hitch", contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Atlantic, The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Slate Magazine, and Vanity Fair. He was an author of twelve books and five collections of essays, and concentrated on the subjects of politics, literature and religion. A prominent staple of talk shows and lecture circuits, his confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded and controversial figure. Known for his contrarian stance on a number of issues, he voraciously critiqued such public figures as Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and Diana, Princess of Wales.

Initially describing himself as a socialist, Hitchens began his break from the established political left after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the Western left to the Rushdie Affair. The September 11 attacks "exhilarated" him, strengthening his internationalist embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his criticism of what he called "fascism with an Islamic face." His numerous editorials in support of the Iraq War caused some to label him a neoconservative, although Hitchens insisted he was not "a conservative of any kind", and his friend Ian McEwan described him as representing the anti-totalitarian left.

A noted critic of religion and a self-described antitheist, he said that a person "could be an atheist and wish that belief in God were correct", but that "an antitheist, a term I'm trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there's no evidence for such an assertion." According to Hitchens, the concept of a god or a supreme being is a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom; and, that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. His anti-religion polemic, God Is Not Great, sold over 500,000 copies.

Hitchens died on 15 December 2011, from complications arising from oesophageal cancer, a disease that he acknowledged was likely due to his lifelong predilection for smoking and drinking. His death prompted tributes and eulogies from a range of public figures, including Tony Blair, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Martin Amis, James Fenton, and Stephen Fry.

Read more about Christopher Hitchens:  Political Views, Critiques of Specific Individuals, Views On Religion, Final Illness and Death, Film and Television Appearances, Selected Publications

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