12.17.11

Christopher Hitchens Dies: His Best Writing, Photos, and More

Christopher Hitchens, perhaps the greatest essayist of our age, lost his battle with esophageal cancer at age 62. The Daily Beast looks back on his life.

What I'll Miss About Hitchens
By Lee Siegel

The price paid for celebrity is caricature, and by the end of his rich, accomplished life, Christopher Hitchens had become everyone’s lovable curmudgeon. In the pages of publications that once would have nothing to do with him—The New York Times (they didn’t like his anti-Zionism), The New Yorker (they didn’t like his strong opinions)—he was suddenly extolled for exciting copy as “The Contrarian,” “The Drinker,” The Partygoer.” The relentless comparisons to George Orwell made you wince, not because Hitchens didn’t deserve the extravagant praise—in many ways, he did—but because comparisons tend to diminish. He was not someone like Orwell (a comparison he himself nurtured and invited). He was Christopher Hitchens, unique and unduplicable. He was the most distinctive personality in Western literary journalism. If he was like anything, he resembled some larger-than-life 19th-century figura. He was journalism’s Lord Byron. And unlike certain other Washington-based literati, he didn’t spend his professional life hurling thunderbolts from behind the shelter of a title and a desk. He made his own way. Always.

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Christopher Hitchens's Best Longreads
By David Sessions

From his epic takedown of Henry Kissinger to his petty crime spree in Bloomberg’s New York, The Daily Beast picks just a few highlights from Christopher Hitchens’s prolific career.

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A Man of Passion, Prose and Wit
By Stephen Fry

We shared a love and passion for P. G. Wodehouse and such things form a bond. Wodehouse, who adored the Pekingese breed of dog, liked to judge people on whether they were sound on Pekes. Evelyn Waugh, who like the Hitch and myself, revered the Master, judged people on how sound they are on Wodehouse.

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Andrew Sullivan's Greatest Hitchens Memories

Andrew remembers his dear friend and dedicates much of The Dish to celebrating the rich life of Christopher Hitchens, from the best tributes on the web, his favorite memory of him, his finest moments on TV, to an Auden poem Hitch once read to Andrew. Follow the latest on his blog.

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RIP, Dear Friend
By Andrew Sullivan

He once wrote to me: "Dearest Andrew I always think of Sunday lunch as beginning at about 2.30 ('a lavish and ruminative feast', as Waugh says about elevenses). Want to come here?"

Yes, I do, Hitch. Yes, I do.

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Final Hitchens Memoir Out Next Year

A final memoir by the late Christopher Hitchens will be out early next year, and will likely be a collection of essays called Mortality. It will include many of his columns for Vanity Fair, and will be released by Atlantic Books, which published his bestselling God Is Not Great, Hitch-22 and Arguably. Hitchens died late Thursday night after battling esophageal cancer. "Before I was diagnosed with esophageal cancer a year and a half ago, I rather jauntily told the readers of my memoirs that when faced with extinction I wanted to be fully conscious and awake, in order to'do' death in the active and not the passive sense," Hitchens wrote recently in his final column for Vanity Fair. "However, one thing that grave illness does is to make you examine familiar principles and seemingly reliable sayings.” He went on to dispense with familiar principles and maxims, including “whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger”—a defiant and courageous takedown, to the end.

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How Will Hitchens Be Remembered?
By Jason Crowley, Editor of the New Statesman

In his final interview, conducted with Richard Dawkins and published in the Christmas issue of the New Statesman, Hitchens spoke of how the one consistency for him in his long, four-decade career as a writer was in being against the totalitarian, on the left and on the right. “The totalitarian, to me, is the enemy - the one that’s absolute, the one that wants control over the inside of your head, not just your actions and your taxes.” And the ultimate totalitarian was God, against whom (or the notion of whom) he was raging until the end.

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christopher-hitchens-gal-2007
His charm, his way with words and his brilliant contentiousness have all been well cataloged, but Christopher Hitchens’s key quality was his ability to make common cause with the oppressed wherever he found them. (Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum)

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Hitchens’s Best Zingers

Christopher Hitchens’s most valuable asset was his scathing wit. From his famous digs at religion to his humiliating takedown of Sarah Palin—and even some snippy comments aimed at cats—read the brilliant writer’s most incendiary jabs.
 
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Hitchens Articles in Newsweek Magazine

The writer was known for weighing in on all topics—no matter how controversial. From the presidents to religion to foreign policy, see some of Hitchens’ best work for Newsweek.
 
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My Friend and Mentor
By Eli Lake

It is fitting that Christopher Hitchens would die one day after the official ceremonies in Baghdad to end the Iraq war. I befriended Christopher and his family in the fall of 2002 in the run up to that war. I will never forget the evening we met. I had just started dating a woman I nearly married and we returned to a party hosted by one of my editors. There was Christopher, holding court, surrounded by journalists and aspiring intellectuals. Even though that evening the pending war was on everyone’s minds, Christopher wanted to talk about the Balkans.

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Hitchens In Iran
By Roya Hakakian

I never knew him to take his time, squander words to be merely decorous. He loved or loathed immediately, and he did both as voraciously as he smoked, spoke and drank.

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