Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62

Paolo Pellegrin / Magnum

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.

He took on Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, Bill Clinton, Gore Vidal, Noam Chomsky, and even God, but always with a rush of wrathful passion for justice and the truth. He was the George Orwell of his time. The polemical writer, journalist and literary critic Christopher Hitchens, who was also a contributor to Newsweek and The Daily Beast, has died. He's known for being one of the great essayists of our age, the most famous of them being scorching attacks against Mother Teresa (calling her a fanatic and a fraud), Henry Kissinger (making a brutal case against him for alleged war crimes), and Bill Clinton (attacking him for corruption and rottenness in a book and in Newsweek). He wrote eloquently on Orwell and his other heroes, like Thomas Paine, was one of the leaders of the "New Atheism" movement, and bewildered many by fervently supporting the war in Iraq. He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010, and was receiving treatment in Houston until recent days, when he entered hospice care. He was 62. Hitchens, who said: "One of the beginnings of human emancipation is the ability to laugh at authority."