Journalist, Author and Atheist Intellectual Christopher Hitchens Dies at 62

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Updated December 16, 2011
Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens, the British-born journalist and atheist intellectual, who backed the unpopular 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, died on Thursday at the age of 62.

According to Vanity Fair, the veteran reporter who had made the United States is home, died in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of cancer of the esophagus.

A heavy smoker and drinker, Hitchens cut short a book tour for his memoir “Hitch 22” last year to undergo chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.

As a journalist, war correspondent and literary critic, Hitchens carved out a reputation for barbed repartee, scathing critiques of public figures, and a fierce intelligence.

In his 2007 book “God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything,” Hitchens took on major religions with his trenchant atheism. He argued that religion was the source of all tyranny and that many of the world’s evils have been done in the name of religion.

The son of a British naval officer, Hitchens studied at Oxford University and worked as literary critic for the New Statesman magazine in London before moving to New York to work as a journalist in 1981.

He settled in Washington the following year, initially as correspondent for the left-wing magazine The Nation. He retained his British citizenship when he became an American citizen in 2007.

Hitchens was not one to mince words. In his book on Bill Clinton “No One Left to Lie To”, he called the former U.S. president a “rapist” and a “con man.” He once referred to Mother Teresa of Calcutta as a “fanatical Albanian dwarf.”

The author of 25 books – including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Orwell – and countless articles and columns, Hitchens never lost his biting humor.

Hitchens is survived by his wife, Carol Blue; their daughter, Antonia; and his children from a previous marriage, Alexander and Sophia, according to Vanity Fair magazine.

Reuters