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.
Michael Totten writes here of being in Beirut with Christopher Hitchens - and being attacked by the Syrian Nazi Party...
Last week Christopher Hitchens and I were attacked in Beirut. Less than 24 hours after we landed at the international airport, a half dozen members of the “Syrian Social Nationalist Party”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrian_Social_Nationalist_Party jumped us on Hamra Street when he defaced one of their signs.
He and I were traveling together because Lebanon’s “New Opinion Group”:http://www.nowlebanon.com/Sub.aspx?ID=175 invited us to meet Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, Future Movement party leader Saad Hariri, Druze chief Walid Jumblatt, and other leaders of the pro-independence “March 14” coalition.
Christopher Hitchens was an atheist and an equally ardent supporter of freedom, liberty, and courage in making a stand against islamofascism. Author of the book, God is Not Great, he engaged Dinesh D'Souza in a classic debate about religion..
Hugh Hewitt hosted him a number of times on his syndicated radio program - and promises to rebroadcast the last 3 hour interview he did with Christopher Hitchens before the New Year. Listen if you can - to get the spirit of the man.
His pain and suffering from a terrible disease has ended - and I hope he has found both peace and the answer to the question...
I salute a great soul with a raised glass. Rest in Peace.