Christopher Hitchens is Dead

Age 62, wrestled with cancer since spring 2010, knowing he could not win or even get a draw. But he gave death hell.

I adored Hitch since the first time I read him. Don’t remember when, I subscribed to both Vanity Fair and Atlantic in the 1990s. He might even have still been a Trotskyist and mebbe died as one, but it was before he endorsed Dubya’s whack of Saddam [on behalf of the Kurds], before he challenged my Roman Catholic self with his evisceration of Mother Teresa.

Hitch was Hitch—he called ’em like he saw ’em, an honest man. He never fronted for anybody.

Christopher Hitchens was of course a New Atheist as well. And, just a day after his death, he described Ronald Reagan—revered on this sub-blog, see our title—as a “cruel and stupid lizard.

But I think Hitch would be OK with me—and Tim Kowal, I think, mebbe even Ronald Reagan—wishing him Rest in Peace, Godspeed, and even hoping to meet him again in some Next World, for the first time. Of such things heavens are made.

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


  1. I think you got the first two sentences just right on this one, Tom.

  2. I never read him much, usually only what Ed Brayton would quote from him. But I greatly admired the way he raged against the dying of the light. Despite not really being that familiar with him, I’m saddened by his death.

  3. Hitch was a gifted writer and a raconteur of such skill and grace as to elevate conversation to an art form. He broke every ideological mold anyone tried to pour him into, and took wry pleasure in refusing to conform. But at the same time he popped your ideological balloons, he charmed you with his generous and gentle personality and astonishingly quick — and deadly sharp — wit. I admired him greatly, even on those subject with which I disagreed.

    When asked about his declining health earlier this year at a debate I attended, Hitch said, “Well, I’m dying. But of course, so are you.” For those of us who aspire to seek the truth, to find value in life through the dissemination of ideas, and to live life to its full, Christopher Hitchens was a remarkable role model. He is now free from his struggle with cancer, but the world is less interesting for his departure from it.

  4. I just remember when I first started reading him the way his prose gave me the feeling that I was floating on top of layers upon layers of accumulated historical reference, erudition, and worldly experience. This is not to say he was that much more steeped in history, well read, or widely travelled than other nonacademic writers of his generation (though I think did indeed have a lot of all of that), but that he was unique in the way his prose suggested to the reader that he was truly benefitting from all of that perspective by choosing spend the time to absorb Hitchens’ writings, because all of that was so fully incorporated into Hitchens’ formation of his views.

  5. He is one of my favorite writers.

    One of my dear friends gave me a book of his saying “I finally found out what it’s called. It’s called ‘Living as if’.” Hitchens was quoting Hayek, I think, (the book was his Letters to a Young Contrarian). He talked about the importance of a lot of things in the absence of a this, a that, the other.

    Ironically, I was looking at beard videos on youtube last night which had me click on a link where Muslim Leaders were telling their followers that Mohammed had given a decree to men to grow their beards and, from there, a link to Hitchens talking about the Satanic Verses in 1989.

    I miss him already.

  6. If I agreed with 25% of what the man ever wrote or said, I think I’d be surprised. In fact, if anyone ever agreed with significantly more than 25% of what he ever wrote or said, I’d be a bit surprised. Moreover, the man was unapologetic about his convictions and merciless towards his opponents. And yet I struggle to think of a writer more widely respected.

    That requires an extraordinarily rare command of language. More importantly, it requires fearless honesty and honor.

    His life made us all richer. His death leaves us a little poorer.

    • Well Mark, that would have been one great obituary–well done, sir!

      I’m sure the percentage with which I agreed with him on was higher than 25%, nevertheless, he was a man of great convictions and courage.

      As I just said to Burt, I particularly loved his takedown of the King of all Fops, Joe Wilson, aka known as an”intelligence” agent. He was a liar, a flop, and a ne’er do well if there ever was one. Check out Hitch’s merciless evisceration of Joe Wilson. Enjoy.

      • I, like just about everyone else here, will dearly miss Hitch and his take no prisoners style of writing. He was not capable of ever writing a dull word and to his great credit, his support of removing the Saddam regime was unwavering and quite courageous. One of my very favorite pieces of his was when he just eviscerated Joe Wilson, King of all fops, a man so deceitful and stupid he didn’t even realize his own words proved that Iraq DID indeed seek to purchase yellow cake uranium. To think the State Dept. would send this incompetant stooge to do any kind of an investigation, just boggles the mind. Oddly, people had a very difficult time understanding that to”seek” something does not mean you succeeded in your quest.
        And Bush’s so-called 16 words controversy, turned out to be 100% true. There was absolutely no connection between the forgeries and what British Intelligence uncovered. Here’s the article.

        One other thing, on an entirely different not, when I was living in Boston, I accidently happened to run into Hitch in a bar–also just happened to be wearing my Beethoven sweatshirt and we immediately got into a discussion about music. Not surprisingly, he adored classical music–Bach, in particularly–we must have talked about the St. Matthew Passion for at least a half hour. Hey, you think he was brilliant when talking politics, you should have heard him talk about music! As luck would have it, there was a smaller room on the other side of the bar that happened to have a baby grand piano in it–he said no more free drinks unless I play something for him. How could I turn that offer down–so played the first movement of Bach’s Partita, NR.2, c-minor; to my big surprise, he loved it then proceeded to play the last movement of Beethoven’s last sonata-op. 111. About a quarter of the way through or so, I looked over at him and saw tears in his eyes. My immediate thought was, my playing must be so awful that it’s become unbearable for the great one, himself, Mr. Hitchens! He said, no–it was one of the pieces of music he adores so much and one that moves him so deeply, he almost gives up his atheism. Key word, “almost”….he couldn’t go over the edge and don’t take it personally, Ludwig–you tried!

        • Here’s hoping gentlemen you will allow these comments to pass through-consider a birthday present–for one day a year, I’m not banned! Many thanks.

  7. We are all cheated out of the spiritual and intellectual challenges he would certainly have continued to hand down as a preeminent elder in our culture. Though we produce more and more geriatrics, we want for elders. Hitch is a dear loss.

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