Dead, Christopher Eric Hitchens, on the 15th of December 2011was a British-American author, literary critic, and journalist who spent much of his career in the United States and became an American citizen.
He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Slate, and Vanity Fair.
Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays, on a range of subjects, including politics, literature, and religion.
A staple of talk shows and lecture circuits, his confrontational style of debate made him both a lauded and controversial figure.
Known for his contrarian stance on a number of issues, Hitchens excoriated such public figures as Mother Teresa; Bill Clinton; Henry Kissinger; Diana, Princess of Wales; and Pope Benedict XVI. He was the elder brother of the conservative journalist and author Peter Hitchens.
Born on the 13th of April 1949, his parents, Eric Ernest Hitchens (1909–87) and Yvonne Jean Hitchens (née Hickman; 1921–73), met in Scotland when both were serving in the Royal Navy during World War II.
His mother was born Jewish, and kept that fact a secret. It was not until late 1987 that Hitchens learned of his Jewish ancestry.
He said, “My initial reaction, apart from pleasure and interest, was the faint but definite feeling that I had somehow known all along.”
A 2002 article in The Guardian reported that he insisted that he was Jewish because Jewish descent is traditionally traced matrilineally.
His mother was a “Wren” (a member of the Women’s Royal Naval Service), and his father an officer aboard the cruiser HMS Jamaica, which helped sink Nazi Germany’s battleship Scharnhorst in the Battle of the North Cape.
In November 1973, Hitchens’s mother committed suicide in Athens in a suicide pact with her lover, a defrocked clergyman named Timothy Bryan.
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 his mother had been murdered.
Both her children were then independent adults. While in Greece, Hitchens reported on the constitutional crisis of the military junta.
It became his first leading article for the New Statesman.
Hitchens is known for his atheism and anti-theism and was a firm believer in the Enlightenment values of secularism, humanism, and reason.
Hitchens became a United States citizen on his 58th birthday, April 13, 2007.
The September 11, 2001 attacks strengthened his embrace of an interventionist foreign policy, and his vociferous criticism of what he called “fascism with an Islamic face.”
He is known for his ardent admiration of George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson, and for his excoriating critiques of Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger and Bill Clinton.