Christopher Eric Hitchens, 1949 - 2011

portrait of Christopher Hitchens
Speaking at The Amaz!ng Meeting, Las Vegas, Nevada - photo by ensceptico (20 January 2007)

Born: 13 April 1949, Portsmouth, England, UK
Died: 15 December 2011, Houston, Texas

Christopher Eric Hitchens was a radical essayist and speaker who stood up for his ideals fully, loudly, and very publicly. His history of arguing with the powers-that-be began early: his opposition to the Vietnam War caused him to be expelled from Britain's Labour Party in 1967, along with most of the Labour student organization. Hitchens was just getting started. In 1970s, he worked for a variety of publications, including International Socialist Magazine and New Statesman. He moved to the United States to work for The Nation in 1981, where he became known for his attacks on Ronald Reagan, and continued to work there until 2011, when he left after disputes about his support of the Iraq War. His stance alienated many liberals, who saw it as betrayal, but he considered the war a necessary evil in the face of increasing Islamic fundamentalism.

Hitchens was a well-respected author, but his political and social beliefs led to him being described as a "gadfly with gusto" — infamous for smoking like a chimney and drinking like a fish. Some say the character of Peter Fallow in Tom Wolfe's Bonfire of the Vanities was based on him.

While he is considered a liberal by many, he often disagreed with the liberal establishment in his later years. Despite Jewish ancestry, Hitchens was anti-Zionist, believing the establishment of Israel was an injustice to the Palestinians. He believed that the British monarchy should be abolished, that American drug policy needed a massive overhaul, and that organized religion is a divisive force which needs to be abolished.

He married Greek Eleni Meleagrou in 1981, they had two children and Hitchens divorced her to marry writer Carol Blue in 1989, with whom he had a daughter. His relationship with his younger brother Peter was strained after a joke he made about his brother's political beliefs was published in The Spectator. Peter, also a writer, retaliated, and the two were estranged for years, but reconciled after the birth of Hitchens' nephew.

Biography from Wikipedia and The New York Times obituary

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