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Obituary - Christopher Hitchens 1949-2011


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The life of controversial and prolific author and journalist Christopher Hitchens came to an end this morning as he died from pneumonia as a complication from the oesophageal cancer he had been diagnosed with in June 2010.

Christopher HitchensBorn in Portsmouth, Hampshire in 1949 Hitchens went to Oxford where he became inclined towards a Trotskyist Internationalist group.

After graduating in 1970 he found work at the New Statesman in 1973; however he grew tired and bored of England and moved to America in 1982 where he wrote for Liberal magazine The Nation.

He also wrote for Harpers and from 1992 was a contributing editor for Vanity Fair. After the 9/11 attacks Hitchens quit The Nation and in many people’s eyes moved from the left of the political spectrum to the right as he supported the Iraq War (though for different reasons to the Bush administration) and even wrote a Slate column called ‘Why I’m slightly for Bush’ in 2004.

What probably brought him to wider public attention however was his written and verbal attacks on religion in his book God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and with Professors Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett and Richard Dawkins formed ‘The Four Horseman’ as part of a pushback against what they saw as a rising tide of religious bullying and hatred.

Christopher Hitchens was a man who could destroy unmerited estimation with unparalleled ease. His terrific attack on Mother Teresa in The Missionary Position is a must read (and a must see documentary right here is a testament to a man who would not accept undeserved reputations.

His thorough skewering of Henry Kissinger in The Trial of Henry Kissinger shows a man not fearful of going after a supposed gifted elder statesman and shining a light on him, showing him to be a creepy war criminal who has not paid for his crimes. His written pieces were a thing of beauty, he could write on anything, including how women aren’t funny to his excellent more recent work on his own cancer. He was a man with terrific wit, his summing up of George W Bush sums up what we all thought about the man, ‘He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things’.

He even had a word dedicated to him in the urban dictionary, ‘The Hitchslap’ which is defined as ‘The act that noted rational atheist Christopher Hitchens must employ on theologists when they attempt to enter discussions that require logic for proof and not "faith”’.

Though this obituary is probably poorly written I hope it does not discourage you from reading any of Christopher’s works. It is hard to sum up a man who wrote so much about so many things.

Whenever you are bored or have nothing to do please read him (or watch him on youtube). You may not like his conclusions (even I a fan do not agree with a lot of things he said) but just admire the work of a man so at ease with writing whilst you or I labour and struggle to write an essay or article like this. The world is now a poorer and less intelligent place. Having read so much of the man’s work it feels as if a friend has died. Rest in peace Hitch, it was a pleasure to read and hear you.

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