In Memoriam: Christopher Hitchens, 1949–2011

“Stellar fire was your womb, and stellar fire will be your grave: a just course for one who has always blazed so very brightly.”

~author Martin Amis,
a Hitchens friend since their days at Oxford

Hitchens at a work camp for young revolutionaries in Cuba, 1968. Only a few months after Che Guevara died, Hitchens ventured there to work at the Campamento Cinco de Mayo, a new camp meant to spur dialogue between what the government referred to as “internationalists.” Click on the image to enlarge.

America was his country, and Portsmouth, England, was his hometown. Hitchens’s oath of U.S. citizenship was administered by former Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff (left) at the Jefferson Memorial in 2007. After September 11, “I began to feel really protective of the United States,” he told C-SPAN. “If I’m going to stand up and say that I think that we ought to be sending our armed forces overseas, I think I probably should be someone who could, in the last resort at least, be called upon to do so.” Click on the image to enlarge.


Juli Weiner
Vanity Fair

Christopher Hitchens—the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant—died today at the age of 62. Hitchens was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in the spring of 2010, just after the publication of his memoir, Hitch-22, and began chemotherapy soon after. His matchless prose has appeared in Vanity Fair since 1992, when he was named contributing editor.

“Cancer victimhood contains a permanent temptation to be self-centered and even solipsistic,” Hitchens wrote nearly a year ago in Vanity Fair, but his own final labors were anything but: in the last 12 months, he produced for this magazine a piece on U.S.-Pakistani relations in the wake of Osama bin Laden’s death, a portrait of Joan Didion, an essay on the Private Eye retrospective at the Victoria and Albert Museum, a prediction about the future of democracy in Egypt, a meditation on the legacy of progressivism in Wisconsin, and a series of frank, graceful, and exquisitely written essays in which he chronicled the physical and spiritual effects of his disease. At the end, Hitchens was more engaged, relentless, hilarious, observant, and intelligent than just about everyone else—just as he had been for the last four decades.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends,” he wrote in the June 2011 issue. He died in their presence, too, at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. May his 62 years of living, well, so livingly console the many of us who will miss him dearly.

A Memorial by Graydon Carter
Video: Christopher Hitchens’ Wit and Wisdom
Slide Show: A Life in Pictures
Vanity Fair’s tribute page to Christopher Hitchens

H/T David Burge (IowaHawk) on Facebook

A comprehensive biography at Fox News

Reactions On The Death Of Christopher Hitchens

Dennis Miller posted his last interview with Christopher Hitchens, recorded June 11, 2010.

My Friend Christopher, by David Horowitz

Update: Hitchens on Islam: “What is needed from the supporters of this very confident faith is more self-criticism and less self-pity and self-righteousness” More at Winds of Jihad.

Update 2: Michael Barone has written a thoughtful eulogy at The Washington Examiner. And Da Techguy, who admires Hitchens, takes up the discussion on faith.

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