Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, journalist, and social critic. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics and literature. A staple of public discourse, his confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded intellectual and a controversial public figure. He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Weekly Standard, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Slate, Free Inquiry and Vanity Fair.

Having long described himself as a democratic socialist, Marxist and an anti-totalitarian, he broke from the political left after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the Western left to the Satanic Verses controversy, followed by what he perceived as an ill-advised embrace of Bill Clinton by parts of the left and the antiwar movement's opposition to NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. His support of the Iraq War separated him further. His writings include critiques of public figures Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, Mother Teresa and Diana, Princess of Wales. He was the elder brother of the conservative journalist and author Peter Hitchens.

As an antitheist, he regarded concepts of a god or supreme being as a totalitarian belief that impedes individual freedom. He argued in favour of free expression and scientific discovery, and that it was superior to religion as an ethical code of conduct for human civilization. He also advocated for the separation of church and state. The dictum "What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence" has become known as Hitchens's razor.[9][10]

Christopher Hitchens
Hitchens photographed from profile
Hitchens in 2008
Christopher Eric Hitchens

13 April 1949
Died15 December 2011 (aged 62)
Houston, Texas, U.S.
Cause of deathPneumonia brought on by esophageal cancer
  • UK (1949–2011)
  • US (2007–2011)
EducationThe Leys School, Cambridge
Alma materBalliol College, Oxford
  • Eleni Meleagrou
    (m. 1981; div. 1989)
  • Carol Blue (m. 1991)
EraContemporary philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolNew Atheism[2]
Main interests
Politics, philosophy of religion,[2] history, literary criticism
Notable ideas
Hitchens's razor
Christopher Hitchens signature

Life and career

Early life and education

Hitchens was born the elder of two boys in Portsmouth, Hampshire.[11] Even when they were children Christopher never got on well with his brother Peter Hitchens,[12] a Christian and socially conservative journalist.[13] His parents, Eric Ernest Hitchens (1909–1987) and Yvonne Jean Hitchens (née Hickman; 1921–1973), met in Scotland when both were serving in the Royal Navy during World War II. Christopher often referred to Eric as simply the 'commander'. Eric was deployed on HMS Jamaica which took part in the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst in the Battle of the North Cape on 26 December 1943. Christopher would pay tribute to his father's contribution to the war: "Sending a Nazi convoy raider to the bottom is a better day's work than any I have ever done." He also stated that "the remark that most summed him [his father] up was the flat statement that the war of 1939 to 1945 had been 'the only time when I really felt I knew what I was doing'." Eric Hitchens would later work as a bookkeeper for boatbuilders, speedboat-manufacturers and at a prep school.[14][15] Later in life, Hitchens identified as a secular Jew—since Judaism is matrilineal and he discovered his mother was Jewish.[16][17][18] His mother was a 'Wren' (a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service).[19] His father's naval career required the family to move a number of times from base to base throughout Britain and its dependencies, including to Malta, where Christopher's brother Peter was born in Sliema in 1951.[20]

Hitchens attended Mount House School (now absorbed into Mount Kelly) in Tavistock, Devon, from the age of eight, followed by the independent Leys School in Cambridge.[21] In 1967, Hitchens enrolled at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was tutored by Steven Lukes and Anthony Kenny and read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, graduating in 1970 with a third-class degree.[22] Hitchens was 'bowled over' in his adolescence by Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley, Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, R. H. Tawney's critique on Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, and the works of George Orwell.[19] In 1968, he took part in the TV quiz show University Challenge.[23]

In the 1960s, Hitchens joined the political left, drawn by disagreement over the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, racism, and oligarchy, including that of "the unaccountable corporation". He expressed affinity with the politically charged countercultural and protest movements of the 1960s and 1970s. He avoided the recreational drug use of the time, saying "in my cohort we were slightly made it very much easier for police provocation to occur, because the planting of drugs was something that happened to almost everyone one knew."[24] Hitchens was inspired to become a journalist after reading a piece by James Cameron.[21] Hitchens was bisexual during his younger days.[25] He claimed to have had sexual relations with two male students at Oxford who would later become Tory ministers during the prime ministership of Margaret Thatcher, although he would not reveal their names publicly.[26]

Hitchens joined the Labour Party in 1965, but along with the majority of the Labour students' organisation was expelled in 1967, because of what Hitchens called "Prime Minister Harold Wilson's contemptible support for the war in Vietnam".[27] Under the influence of Peter Sedgwick, who translated the writings of Russian revolutionary and Soviet dissident Victor Serge, Hitchens forged an ideological interest in Trotskyism and anti-Stalinist socialism.[19] Shortly after, he joined "a small but growing post-Trotskyist Luxemburgist sect".[28]

Journalistic career in the UK (1971–1981)

Early in his career Hitchens began working as a correspondent for the magazine International Socialism,[29] published by the International Socialists, the forerunners of today's British Socialist Workers Party. This group was broadly Trotskyist, but differed from more orthodox Trotskyist groups in its refusal to defend communist states as "workers' states". Their slogan was "Neither Washington nor Moscow but International Socialism".

In 1971 Hitchens went to work at the Times Higher Education Supplement where he served as a social science correspondent. Hitchens admitted that he hated the position, and was fired after six months in the job. Next he was a researcher for ITV's Weekend World.[30] In 1973 he went to work for the New Statesman, where his colleagues included the authors Martin Amis, whom he had briefly met at Oxford, Julian Barnes and James Fenton, with whom he had shared a house in Oxford.[30] Around that time, the Friday lunches began, which were attended by writers including Clive James, Ian McEwan, Kingsley Amis, Terence Kilmartin, Robert Conquest, Al Alvarez, Peter Porter, Russell Davies and Mark Boxer. At the New Statesman Hitchens acquired a reputation as a left-winger, reporting internationally from areas of conflict such as Northern Ireland, Libya, and Iraq.[30]

In November 1973, while in Greece, Hitchens reported on the constitutional crisis of the military junta. It became his first leading article for the New Statesman.[21] In December 1977, Hitchens interviewed Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, a conversation he later described as "horrifying".[31] In 1977, unhappy at the New Statesman, Hitchens defected to the Daily Express where he became a foreign correspondent. He returned to the New Statesman in 1979 where he became foreign editor.[30]

American writings (1981–2011)

Hitchens went to the United States in 1981 as part of an editor exchange programme between the New Statesman and The Nation.[32] After joining The Nation, he penned vociferous critiques of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush and American foreign policy in South and Central America.[16][33][34][35][36][37] He became a contributing editor of Vanity Fair in 1992,[38] writing ten columns a year. He left The Nation in 2002 after profoundly disagreeing with other contributors over the Iraq War. There is speculation that Hitchens was the inspiration for Tom Wolfe's character Peter Fallow in the 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities,[34] but others—including Hitchens—believe it to be Spy Magazine's "Ironman Nightlife Decathlete", Anthony Haden-Guest.[39] In 1987, Hitchens's father died from cancer of the oesophagus, the same disease that would later claim his own life.[40] In April 2007, Hitchens became a US citizen; he later stated that he saw himself as Anglo-American.[41]

He became a media fellow at the Hoover Institution in September 2008.[42] At Slate, he usually wrote under the news-and-politics column Fighting Words.[43]

Hitchens spent part of his early career in journalism as a foreign correspondent in Cyprus.[44] Through his work there he met his first wife Eleni Meleagrou, a Greek Cypriot, with whom he had two children, Alexander and Sophia. His son, Alexander Meleagrou-Hitchens, born in 1984, has worked as a policy researcher in London. Hitchens continued writing essay-style correspondence pieces from a variety of locales, including Chad, Uganda[45] and the Darfur region of Sudan.[46] In 1991, he received a Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.[47]

Hitchens met Carol Blue in Los Angeles in 1989 and they married in 1991. Hitchens called it love at first sight.[48] In 1999, Hitchens and Blue, both harsh critics of President Clinton, submitted an affidavit to the trial managers of the Republican Party in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. Therein they swore that their then friend Sidney Blumenthal had described Monica Lewinsky as a stalker. This allegation contradicted Blumenthal's own sworn deposition in the trial,[49] and it resulted in a hostile exchange of opinion in the public sphere between Hitchens and Blumenthal. Following the publication of Blumenthal's The Clinton Wars, Hitchens wrote several pieces in which he accused Blumenthal of manipulating the facts.[49][50] The incident ended their friendship and sparked a personal crisis for Hitchens, who was stridently criticised by friends for what they saw as a cynical and ultimately politically futile act.[16]

Before Hitchens's political shift, the American author and polemicist Gore Vidal was apt to speak of Hitchens as his "dauphin" or "heir".[51][52] In 2010, Hitchens attacked Vidal in a Vanity Fair piece headlined "Vidal Loco", calling him a "crackpot" for his adoption of 9/11 conspiracy theories.[53][54] On the back of Hitchens's memoir Hitch-22, among the praise from notable figures, Vidal's endorsement of Hitchens as his successor is crossed out in red and annotated "NO, C.H." Hitchens's strong advocacy of the war in Iraq gained him a wider readership, and in September 2005 he was named as fifth on the list of the "Top 100 Public Intellectuals" by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines.[55] An online poll ranked the 100 intellectuals, but the magazines noted that the rankings of Hitchens (5), Noam Chomsky (1), and Abdolkarim Soroush (15) were partly due to their respective supporters' publicising of the vote. Hitchens later responded to his ranking with a few articles about his status as such.[56][57]

Hitchens did not leave his position writing for The Nation until after the September 11 attacks, stating that he felt the magazine had arrived at a position "that John Ashcroft is a greater menace than Osama bin Laden".[58] The 11 September attacks "exhilarated" him, bringing into focus "a battle between everything I love and everything I hate" and strengthening his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy that challenged "fascism with an Islamic face."[37] His numerous editorials in support of the Iraq War caused some to label him a neoconservative, although Hitchens insisted he was not "a conservative of any kind", and his friend Ian McEwan described him as representing the anti-totalitarian left.[59] Hitchens recalls in his memoir having been "invited by Bernard-Henri Levy to write an essay on political reconsiderations for his magazine La Regle du Jeu. I gave it the partly ironic title: 'Can One Be a Neoconservative?' Impatient with this, some copy editor put it on the cover as 'How I Became a Neoconservative.' Perhaps this was an instance of the Cartesian principle as opposed to the English empiricist one: It was decided that I evidently was what I apparently only thought." Indeed, in a 2010 BBC interview, he stated that he "still [thought] like a Marxist" and considered himself "a leftist."[60]

In 2007 Hitchens published one of his most controversial articles entitled "Why Women Aren't Funny" in Vanity Fair. Relying mainly on anecdotal evidence, he argued that there is less societal pressure for women to practice humour and that "women who do it play by men's rules".[61] Over the following year, Vanity Fair published several letters that it received, objecting to the tone or premise of the article, as well as a rebuttal by Alessandra Stanley.[62] Amid further criticism, Hitchens reiterated his position in a video and written response.[63][64]

In 2007, Hitchens's work for Vanity Fair won the National Magazine Award in the category "Columns and Commentary".[65] He was a finalist in the same category in 2008 for some of his columns in Slate but lost out to Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone.[66] He won the National Magazine Award for Columns about Cancer in 2011.[67][68] Hitchens also served on the Advisory Board of Secular Coalition for America and offered advice to the Coalition on the acceptance and inclusion of nontheism in American life.[69] In December 2011, prior to his death, Asteroid 57901 Hitchens was named after him.[70]

Literature reviews

Hitchens wrote a monthly essay in The Atlantic[71] and occasionally contributed to other literary journals. One of his books, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere, collected these works. In Why Orwell Matters, he defends Orwell's writings against modern critics as relevant today and progressive for his time. In the 2008 book Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq, and the Left, many literary critiques are included of essays and other books of writers, such as David Horowitz and Edward Said.

During a three-hour In Depth interview on Book TV, he named authors who influenced his views, including Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, P. G. Wodehouse and Conor Cruise O'Brien.[5]

Political views

In 2009 Hitchens was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the '25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media'.[73] The same article noted, however, that he would "likely be aghast to find himself on this list", as it reduces his self-styled radicalism to mere liberalism. Hitchens's political perspectives also appear in his wide-ranging writings, which include many dialogues.[74] He said of libertarianism and objectivism, "I have always found it quaint, and rather touching, that there is a movement in the US that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough."[75]

While Hitchens supported Israel's right to exist, he was critical of the Israeli government's handling of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. Having long described himself as a socialist and a Marxist, Hitchens began his break from the established political left after what he called the "tepid reaction" of the Western left to the controversy over The Satanic Verses, followed by the left's embrace of Bill Clinton, and the antiwar movement's opposition to NATO intervention in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the 1990s. He later became a liberal hawk and supported the War on Terror, but he had some reservation, such as his characterization of waterboarding as torture after voluntarily undergoing the procedure.[76][77] In January 2006, he joined with four other individuals and four organizations, including the ACLU and Greenpeace, as plaintiffs in a lawsuit, ACLU v. NSA, challenging Bush's NSA warrantless surveillance; the lawsuit was filed by the ACLU.[78][79]

Critiques of specific individuals

Hitchens wrote book-length biographical essays on Thomas Jefferson (Thomas Jefferson: Author of America), Thomas Paine (Thomas Paine's "Rights of Man": A Biography) and George Orwell (Why Orwell Matters).

He also became known for his excoriating critiques of public contemporary figures including Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton and Henry Kissinger, the subjects of three full-length texts: The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton, and The Trial of Henry Kissinger respectively. In 2007, while promoting his book God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitchens described the Christian evangelist Billy Graham as "a self-conscious fraud" and "a disgustingly evil man". Hitchens claimed that the evangelist, who had recently been hospitalized for intestinal bleeding, made a living by "going around spouting lies to young people. What a horrible career. I gather it's soon to be over. I certainly hope so."

In response to the comments, writers Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy published an article in Time Magazine in which, among other things, they refuted Hitchens's suggestion that Graham went into ministry to make money. They argued that during his career Graham 'turn[ed] down million-dollar television and Hollywood offers'. They also pointed out that having established the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950, Graham drew a straight salary, comparable to that of a senior minister, irrespective of the money raised by his meetings.[80]

Criticism of religion

Hitchens was an antitheist, and said that a person "could be an atheist and wish that belief in God were correct", but that "an antitheist, a term I'm trying to get into circulation, is someone who is relieved that there's no evidence for such an assertion."[81] He often spoke against the Abrahamic religions. In a 2010 interview at New York Public Library, Hitchens stated that he was against infant circumcision. When asked by readers of The Independent (London) what he considered to be the "axis of evil", Hitchens replied "Christianity, Judaism, Islam—the three leading monotheisms".[82]

In his bestseller God Is Not Great, Hitchens expanded his criticism to include all religions, including those rarely criticised by Western secularists, such as Buddhism and neo-paganism. Hitchens said that organised religion is "the main source of hatred in the world", calling it "[v]iolent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children: [it] ought to have a great deal on its conscience".[83] Hitchens therefore says in God Is Not Great that humanity is in need of a renewed Enlightenment.[84] The book received mixed responses, ranging from praise in The New York Times for his "logical flourishes and conundrums"[85] to accusations of "intellectual and moral shabbiness" in the Financial Times.[86] God Is Not Great was nominated for a National Book Award on 10 October 2007.[87]

God Is Not Great affirmed Hitchens's position in the "New Atheism" movement. Hitchens was made an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist International and the National Secular Society shortly after its release, and he was later named to the Honorary Board of distinguished achievers of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.[88][89] He also joined the advisory board of the Secular Coalition for America, a group of atheists and humanists.[69] Hitchens said he would accept an invitation from any religious leader who wished to debate with him. On 30 September 2007, Richard Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett met at Hitchens's residence for a private, unmoderated discussion that lasted two hours. The event was videotaped and titled "The Four Horsemen".[90] In it, Hitchens stated at one point that he considered the Maccabean Revolt the most unfortunate event in human history due to the reversion from Hellenistic thought and philosophy to messianism and fundamentalism that its success constituted.[91][92]

That year, Hitchens began a series of written debates on the question "Is Christianity Good for the World?" with Christian theologian and pastor Douglas Wilson, published in Christianity Today magazine.[93] This exchange eventually became a book with the same title published in 2008. During their promotional tour of the book, they were accompanied by the producer Darren Doane's film crew. Thence Doane produced the film Collision: Is Christianity GOOD for the World?, which was released on 27 October 2009. On 4 April 2009, Hitchens debated William Lane Craig on the existence of God at Biola University.[94] On 19 October 2009, Intelligence Squared explored the question "Is the Catholic Church a force for good in the world?".[95] John Onaiyekan and Ann Widdecombe argued that it was, while Hitchens joined Stephen Fry in arguing that it was not. The latter side won the debate according to an audience poll.[96] On 26 November 2010, Hitchens appeared in Toronto, Ontario, at the Munk Debates, where he debated religion with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, a convert to Roman Catholicism. Blair argued religion is a force for good, while Hitchens argued against that.[97]

Throughout these debates, Hitchens became known for his use of persuasive and enthusiastic rhetoric in public speaking. "Wit and eloquence", "verbal barbs and linguistic dexterity" and "self-reference, literary engagement and hyperbole" are all elements of his speeches.[98][99][100] The term "Hitch-slap" has come about as an informal term among his supporters for a carefully crafted remark designed to humiliate his opponents.[100][101] Hitchens's line "one asks wistfully if there is no provision in the procedures of military justice for them to be taken out and shot", condemning the perpetrators of the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse, was cited by The Humanist as an example.[102] A tribute in Politico stated that this was a trait Hitchens shared with fellow atheist and intellectual, Gore Vidal.[103]

Personal life

Hitchens after a talk at The College of New Jersey in March 2009

Hitchens was raised nominally Christian and attended Christian boarding schools, but from an early age he declined to participate in communal prayers. Later in life, Hitchens discovered that he was of Jewish descent on his mother's side and that his Jewish-born ancestors were immigrants from Eastern Europe (including Poland).[21][104][105] Hitchens was married twice, first to Eleni Meleagrou,[106] a Greek Cypriot in 1981; the couple had a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Sophia. In 1991, Hitchens married his second wife, Carol Blue, an American screenwriter,[16] in a ceremony held at the apartment of Victor Navasky, editor of The Nation. They had a daughter together, Antonia.[16]

In November 1973, Hitchens's mother committed suicide in Athens in a pact with her lover, a defrocked clergyman named Timothy Bryan.[19] The pair overdosed on sleeping pills in adjoining hotel rooms, and Bryan slashed his wrists in the bathtub. Hitchens flew alone to Athens to recover his mother's body, initially under the impression that she had been murdered. Both her children were then independent adults.

Illness and death

Hitchens 2010
Hitchens in November 2010
External video
Q&A interview with Hitchens, following his diagnosis with esophageal cancer, 23 January 2011, C-SPAN

In June 2010, Hitchens was on tour in New York promoting his memoirs Hitch-22 when he was taken into emergency care suffering from a severe pericardial effusion. Soon after he announced he was postponing his tour to undergo treatment for esophageal cancer.[107] In a Vanity Fair piece titled "Topic of Cancer",[40] he stated that he was undergoing treatment for the cancer. He said that he recognised the long-term prognosis was far from positive, and that he would be a "very lucky person to live another five years".[108] A heavy smoker and drinker since his teenage years, Hitchens acknowledged that these habits likely contributed to his illness.[109] During his illness, Hitchens was under the care of Francis Collins and was the subject of Collins' new cancer treatment, which maps out the human genome and selectively targets damaged DNA.[110][111]

Hitchens died of hospital-acquired pneumonia on 15 December 2011 in the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, aged 62.[112] In accordance with his wishes, his body was donated to medical research.[113] Mortality, a collection of seven of Hitchens's Vanity Fair essays about his illness, was published posthumously in September 2012.[114][115]

Reactions to death

Hitchens Blair
Former British prime minister Tony Blair and Hitchens at the Munk debate on religion, Toronto, November 2010

Former British prime minister Tony Blair said, "Christopher Hitchens was a complete one-off, an amazing mixture of writer, journalist, polemicist, a unique character. He was fearless in the pursuit of truth and any cause in which he believed. And there was no belief he held that he did not advocate with passion, commitment, and brilliance. He was an extraordinary, compelling, and colourful human being whom it was a privilege to know."[116]

Richard Dawkins, a friend of Hitchens, said, "I think he was one of the greatest orators of all time. He was a polymath, a wit, immensely knowledgeable, and a valiant fighter against all tyrants, including imaginary supernatural ones."[116]

External video
"A Tribute to Christopher Hitchens", hosted by Vanity Fair magazine, 20 April 2012, C-SPAN

American theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss said, "Christopher was a beacon of knowledge and light in a world that constantly threatens to extinguish both. He had the courage to accept the world for just what it is and not what he wanted it to be. That's the highest praise, I believe, one can give to any intellect. He understood that the universe doesn't care about our existence or welfare, and he epitomized the realization that our lives have meaning only to the extent that we give them meaning."[117][118] Bill Maher paid tribute to Hitchens on his show Real Time with Bill Maher, saying, "We lost a hero of mine, a friend, and one of the great talk show guests of all time."[119] Salman Rushdie and English comedian Stephen Fry paid tribute at the Christopher Hitchens Vanity Fair Memorial 2012.[120][121][122][123] Three weeks before Hitchens's death, George Eaton of the New Statesman wrote, "He is determined to ensure that he is not remembered simply as a 'lefty who turned right' or as a contrarian and provocateur. Throughout his career, he has retained a commitment to the Enlightenment values of reason, secularism and pluralism. His targets—Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, God—are chosen not at random, but rather because they have offended one or more of these principles. The tragedy of Hitchens's illness is that it came at a time when he enjoyed a larger audience than ever. The great polemicist is certain to be remembered, but, as he was increasingly aware, perhaps not as he would like."[124] The Chronicle of Higher Education asked if Hitchens was the last public intellectual.[125]

In 2015, an annual prize of $50,000 was established in his honour by The Dennis and Victoria Ross Foundation for "an author or journalist whose work reflects a commitment to free expression and inquiry, a range and depth of intellect, and a willingness to pursue the truth without regard to personal or professional consequence".[126]

Film and television appearances

Year Film, DVD, or TV Episode
1984 Opinions: "Greece to their Rome"
1989 Frontiers: "Stranded in Time"
1993 Everything You Need to Know
The Opinions Debate[127]
1994 Tracking Down Maggie: The Unofficial Biography of Margaret Thatcher
Hell's Angel (documentary)
1996 Where's Elvis This Week?
1996–2010 Charlie Rose (13 episodes)
1998 Real Stories: Diana: The Mourning After[128]
1999–2001 Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher
1999–2002 Dennis Miller Live (TV show; 4 episodes)
2000 The Other Side: Hitch Hike
2002 The Trials of Henry Kissinger
2003 Hidden in Plain Sight
2003–2009 Real Time with Bill Maher (TV show; 6 episodes)
2004 Mel Gibson: God's Lethal Weapon
Texas: America Supersized[129]
2004–2006 Newsnight (TV show; 3 episodes)
2004–2010 The Daily Show (TV show; 4 episodes)
2005 Penn & Teller: Bullshit! (TV show; 1 episode, s03e05)
The Al Franken Show (Radio show; 1 episode)
Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope
Heaven on Earth: The Rise and Fall of Socialism
2005–08 Hardball with Chris Matthews (TV show; 3 episodes)
2006 American Zeitgeist
Blog Wars
2007 Manufacturing Dissent
Question Time (1 episode)
Your Mommy Kills Animals
Personal Che
In Pot We Trust
Hannity's America
2008 Can Atheism Save Europe? (DVD; 9 August 2008 debate with John Lennox at the Edinburgh International Festival)
Discussions with Richard Dawkins: Episode 1: "The Four Horsemen" (DVD; 30 September 2007)
Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed
2009 Holy Hell (Chap. 5 in 6 Part Web Film on iTunes)[130]
God on Trial (DVD; September 2008 debate with Dinesh D'Souza)
President: A Political Road Trip
Collision: "Is Christianity GOOD for the World?" (DVD; Fall 2008 debates with Douglas Wilson)
Does God Exist? (DVD; 4 April 2009 debate with William Lane Craig)
Fighting Words[131] (TV Movie; 2009)
2010 Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune
The God Debates, Part I: A Spirited Discussion (DVD; debate with Shmuley Boteach; Host: Mark Derry; Commentary: Miles Redfield)
2011 Is God Great? (DVD; 3 March 2009 debate with John Lennox at Samford University)
92Y: Christopher Hitchens (DVD; 8 June 2010 dialogue with Salman Rushdie at 92nd Street Y)
ABC Lateline[132] (TV show, 2 episodes)
2013 Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia[133] (DVD Documentary)
2015 Best of Enemies (Posthumous release)


Christopher Hitchens reading his book Hitch 22
Christopher Hitchens reading his book Hitch-22 (2010)
  • 1984 Cyprus. Quartet. Revised editions as Hostage to History: Cyprus from the Ottomans to Kissinger, 1989 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) and 1997 (Verso) ISBN 1859841899
  • 1987 Imperial Spoils: The Curious Case of the Elgin Marbles, Hill and Wang ISBN 0809041898
  • 1988 Blaming the Victims: Spurious Scholarship and the Palestinian Question (contributor; co-editor with Edward Said) Verso, ISBN 0-86091-887-4 Reissued, 2001
  • 1988 Prepared for the Worst: Selected Essays and Minority Reports Hill and Wang, ISBN 0809078678
  • 1990 The Monarchy: A Critique of Britain's Favorite Fetish, Chatto & Windus Ltd ISBN 9781448155354
  • 1990 Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies, Farrar Straus & Giroux (T)(June 1990) ISBN 9780374114435
  • 1993 "For the Sake of Argument" Verso ISBN 0860914356
  • 1995 The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Verso
  • 1997 The Parthenon Marbles: The Case for Reunification, Verso ISBN 1786631822
  • 1999 No One Left to Lie To: The Values of the Worst Family, original hardcover title: "No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton," Verso
  • 2000 Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere, Verso
  • 2001 The Trial of Henry Kissinger. Verso. ISBN 1859843980
  • 2001 Letters to a Young Contrarian, Basic Books
  • 2002 Why Orwell Matters also Orwell's Victory, Basic Books, ISBN 0-465-03050-5
  • 2003 A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq. Plume/Penguin Group, ISBN 0-452-28498-8
  • 2004 Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays, Thunder's Mouth, Nation Books, ISBN 1-56025-580-3
  • 2005 Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, Eminent Lives/Atlas Books/HarperCollins Publishers, ISBN 0-06-059896-4
  • 2007 "Thomas Paine's Rights of Man: A Biography ", Atlantic Monthly Press, ISBN 0-87113-955-3
  • 2007 God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Twelve/Hachette Book Group USA/Warner Books, ISBN 0-446-57980-7 / Published in the UK as God is not Great: The Case Against Religion, Atlantic Books, ISBN 978-1-84354-586-6
  • 2007 The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer, [Editor] Perseus Publishing. ISBN 978-0-306-81608-6
  • 2008 Christopher Hitchens and His Critics: Terror, Iraq and the Left (with Simon Cottee and Thomas Cushman), New York University Press, ISBN 0814716873
  • 2008 Is Christianity Good for the World? – A Debate (co-author, with Douglas Wilson), Canon Press, ISBN 1-59128-053-2
  • 2010 Hitch-22: A Memoir, Twelve, ISBN 978-0-446-54033-9 OCLC 464590644
  • 2011 Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, Twelve. UK edition as Arguably: Selected Prose, Atlantic, ISBN 1-4555-0277-4 / ISBN 978-1-4555-0277-6
  • 2012 Mortality, Twelve, ISBN 1-4555-0275-8 / ISBN 978-1-4555-0275-2. UK edition as Mortality, Atlantic Books, ISBN 1-84887-921-0 / ISBN 978-1-84887-921-8
  • 2015 And Yet...: Essays, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 978-1476772066


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External links

A Long Short War

A Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq is a collection of twenty-two articles originally written by Christopher Hitchens for the online magazine Slate. The articles support the impending American-led invasion of Iraq and were written between November 7, 2002 and April 18, 2003.


Arguably: Essays is a 2011 book by Christopher Hitchens, comprising 107 essays on a variety of political and cultural topics. These essays were previously published in The Atlantic, City Journal, Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, Newsweek, New Statesman, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, Times Literary Supplement, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, The Wilson Quarterly, and Vanity Fair. Arguably also includes introductions that Hitchens wrote for new editions of several classic texts, such as Animal Farm and Our Man in Havana. Critics' reviews of the collection were largely positive.

Blood, Class, and Nostalgia

Blood, Class, and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies is a 1990 book by Christopher Hitchens which aims to examine the so-called "Special Relationship" between the United States and Great Britain, with a focus especially on the 20th century. It was reissued in 2004 as Blood, Class and Empire: The Enduring Anglo-American Relationship, with a new preface by the author. The book is not and does not purport to be a history of the relationship; it is rather, as Hitchens describes it, a series of "incisions, made at selected crucial points." The book is dedicated to the author's wife.

Christopher Hitchens bibliography

Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a prolific English-American author, political journalist and literary critic. His books, essays, and journalistic career spanned more than four decades. Recognized as a public intellectual, he was a staple of talk shows and lecture circuits. Hitchens was a columnist and literary critic at The Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, The Nation, Free Inquiry, and a variety of other media outlets.

Criticism of Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth is the central figure of Christianity. Christians believe that he was (and still is) divine, while Islam considers him to have been a prophet, messenger and the Messiah. Since the time in which he is said to have lived, a number of noted individuals have criticised Jesus, some of whom were themselves Christians.Early critics of Jesus and Christianity included Celsus in the second century and Porphyry in the third. In the 19th century, Friedrich Nietzsche was highly critical of Jesus, whose teachings he considered to be "anti-nature" in their treatment of topics such as sexuality. More contemporary notable critics of Jesus include Ayn Rand, Hector Avalos, Sita Ram Goel, Christopher Hitchens, Bertrand Russell, and Dayananda Saraswati.

Hell's Angel (TV programme)

Hell's Angel is a television documentary programme criticising Mother Teresa which premiered in the UK on Channel 4's Without Walls arts strand on 8 November 1994. It was hosted by Christopher Hitchens, directed by Jenny Morgan, and produced by journalist Tariq Ali. Hitchens and Ali co-wrote the programme's script. Hitchens originally titled the documentary Sacred Cow, but it was changed to Hell's Angel at the request of his backers.A precursor to Hitchens' book The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice (1995), the film argues that Mother Teresa urged the poor to accept their circumstances as their destiny and for the poor and sick in particular to submit to the substandard, unsafe, and non-therapeutic medical care provided by her clinics while she endorsed and accepted money from a variety of rich and powerful people who had stunning ethical lapses.


Hitch-22: A Memoir is a memoir written by author and journalist Christopher Hitchens.

The book was published in May 2010 by Atlantic Books in the UK and June 2011 by Twelve, an imprint of Hachette Book Group USA, and was later nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. The planned worldwide tour for the book was cut short later the same month during the American leg so that the author could begin treatment for newly diagnosed esophageal cancer. Through the book's publisher and in the magazine for which he was a regular contributing editor, Vanity Fair, Hitchens announced: 'I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.'

Hitchens's razor

Hitchens's razor is an epistemological razor asserting that the burden of proof regarding the truthfulness of a claim lies with the one who makes the claim, and if this burden is not met, the claim is unfounded, and its opponents need not argue further in order to dismiss it.

Imperial Spoils

Imperial Spoils: The Curious Case of the Elgin Marbles is a 1987 book by Christopher Hitchens on the controversy surrounding the removal by Thomas Bruce (seventh earl of Elgin) of the Parthenon's sculptured friezes (which became known as the Elgin Marbles), and his subsequent sale of the Marbles to the British Museum. Hitchens examines the history of the artifacts and the question of whether they should be returned to Greece.


Mortality is the state of being mortal, or susceptible to death; the opposite of immortality.

Mortality may also refer to:

Fish mortality, a parameter used in fisheries population dynamics to account for the loss of fish in a fish stock through death

Mortality (book), a 2012 collection of essays by Anglo-American writer Christopher Hitchens

Mortality (computability theory), a property of a Turing machine if it halts when run on any starting configuration

Mortality rate, a measure for the rate at which deaths occur in a given population

Mortality/differential attrition, an error in the internal validity of a scientific study

Mortality (book)

Mortality is a 2012, posthumously published book by Anglo-American writer Christopher Hitchens, comprising seven essays which first appeared in Vanity Fair concerning his struggle with oesophageal cancer, with which he was diagnosed during his 2010 book tour and which killed him in December 2011. An eighth chapter consisting of unfinished "fragmentary jottings," a foreword by Graydon Carter, Hitchens' Vanity Fair editor and an afterword by Carol Blue, Hitchens' widow, are also included in the publication.

No One Left to Lie To

No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton is a 1999 book about Bill Clinton by author and journalist Christopher Hitchens. It was first published in hardback by the New Left Books imprint, Verso Books.


A polemic () is contentious rhetoric that is intended to support a specific position by aggressive claims and undermining of the opposing position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist. The word is derived from Ancient Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning 'warlike, hostile', from πόλεμος (polemos), meaning 'war'.Polemics often concern issues in religion or politics. A polemic style of writing was common in Ancient Greece, as in the writings of the historian Polybius. Polemic again became common in medieval and early modern times. Since then, famous polemicists have included the satirist Jonathan Swift, Christian anarchist Leo Tolstoy, the socialist philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the novelist George Orwell, the psycholinguist Noam Chomsky, the social critic Christopher Hitchens, the existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, and Friedrich Nietzsche, author of On the Genealogy of Morality: A Polemic.

Political views of Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (13 April 1949 – 15 December 2011) was a British-American author, polemicist, debater and journalist who in his youth took part in demonstrations against the Vietnam War, joined organisations such as the International Socialists while at university and began to identify as a socialist. However, after the 11 September attacks he no longer regarded himself as a socialist and his political thinking became largely dominated by the issue of defending civilization from terrorists and against the totalitarian regimes that protect them. Hitchens nonetheless continued to identify as a Marxist, endorsing the materialist conception of history, but believed that Karl Marx had underestimated the revolutionary nature of capitalism. He sympathized with libertarian ideals of limited state interference, but considered libertarianism not to be a viable system. In the 2000 U.S. presidential election, he supported the independent candidate Ralph Nader. After 9/11, Hitchens advocated the invasion of Iraq. In the 2004 election, he very slightly favored the incumbent Republican President George W. Bush or was neutral and in 2008 he favored the Democratic candidate Barack Obama.

The Portable Atheist

The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Non-Believer (2007) is an anthology edited by Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens wrote introductions to each article he compiled for the book. The main introduction is centered on an unbeliever´s point of view, what he is constantly told, “and the errors incurred by religion, since the pre-history of our species, in identifying not just the wrong explanation but the wrong culprit in episodes of nightmarish ignorance and calamity”.

In an inciting anthology of atheist and agnostic thought, going back to the early Greeks, Hitchens writes briefly about the selected essays of past and present philosophers, scientists, and other thinkers such as Lucretius, Benedict de Spinoza, Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, Mark Twain, George Eliot, Bertrand Russell, Emma Goldman, H. L. Mencken, Albert Einstein, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Victor J. Stenger and Richard Dawkins − with original pieces by Salman Rushdie, Ian McEwan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. For Hitchens “religion invents a problem where none exists by describing the wicked as also made in the image of god and the sexually nonconformist as existing in a state of incurable mortal sin that can incidentally cause floods and earthquakes. Death is certain... Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.”

The Trial of Henry Kissinger

The Trial of Henry Kissinger is a 2001 book by Christopher Hitchens examining the alleged war crimes of Henry Kissinger, the National Security Advisor and later United States Secretary of State for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Acting in the role of the prosecution, Hitchens presents Kissinger's involvement in a series of alleged war crimes in Vietnam, Bangladesh, Chile, Cyprus and East Timor.

Why Orwell Matters

Why Orwell Matters, released in the UK as Orwell's Victory, is a book-length biographical essay by Christopher Hitchens. In it, the author relates George Orwell's thoughts on and actions in relation to:

the British Empire;

the left;

the right;

the United States;

English conventions;

feminism and women; and

his controversial list for the British Foreign Office.At the end of the book, Hitchens critiques Orwell's novels and legacy. An essay sequel to the book, "Why Orwell Still Matters," appears in John Rodden's 2007 compilation The Cambridge Companion to George Orwell (ISBN 978-0-521-85842-7).

Christopher Hitchens
Works authored
Works edited

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