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Christopher Eric Hitchens Edit Profile

columnist , writer

Christopher Eric Hitchens was an Anglo-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, religious and literary critic, social critic, and journalist. Mr. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays on culture, politics and literature.

Background

Mr. Hitchens was born on April 13, 1949, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, United Kingdom. He was a son of Eric Ernest (a naval officer) and Yvonne (Hickman) Hitchens.

Education

Christopher Hitchens received his Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree from Oxford University, England, in 1970.

Career

From 1970 to 1971 Mr. Hitchens worked at Times Higher Education Supplement, London, England, as a social science correspondent. From 1973 till 1981, and since 1987 he was a staff writer at New Statesman, London. In 1981 he was appointed columnist at The Nation, New York, NY. Mr. Hitchens occupied the post of a columnist at Spectator, London, starting from 1982. The same year he was appointed columnist at Times Literary Supplement, London. Between 1977 and 1981 Christopher Hitchens was a committee member of Friends of Cyprus, London. And then he became a subcommittee member of the International Committee of Labour Party.

Christopher Hitchens wrote a monthly essay in The Atlantic and occasionally contributed to other literary journals. One of his books, Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere, collected these works.

In June 2010, Mr. 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 and then announced he was postponing his tour to undergo treatment for esophageal cancer. Mr. Hitchens died on 15 December 2011 at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. In accordance with his wishes, his body was donated to medical research. Christopher Hitchens wrote a book-length work about his last illness, based on his Vanity Fair columns. Mortality was published in September 2012.

Works

Religion

Christopher Hitchens was raised nominally Christian, and went to Christian boarding schools, but from an early age declined to participate in communal prayers. Later in life, Mr. Hitchens discovered that he was of Jewish descent on his mother's side. Mr. Hitchens's Jewish-born ancestors were immigrants from Eastern Europe (including Poland).

Christopher 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." He often spoke against the Abrahamic religions.

In his bestseller God Is Not Great, Mr. 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".

Politics

In 2009 Mr. Hitchens was listed by Forbes magazine as one of the "25 most influential liberals in the U.S. media". 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. Christopher Hitchens's political perspectives also appear in his wide-ranging writings, which include many dialogues. He said of libertarianism, "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."

While Christopher 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, Mr. 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. 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.

Views

Quotations: "Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods."

"To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?"

"Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that's where it should stay."

"Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you."

"Human decency is not derived from religion. It precedes it."

"The essence of the independent mind lies not in what it thinks, but in how it thinks."

"Our belief is not a belief. Our principles are not a faith. We do not rely solely upon science and reason, because these are necessary rather than sufficient factors, but we distrust anything that contradicts science or outrages reason. We may differ on many things, but what we respect is free inquiry, openmindedness, and the pursuit of ideas for their own sake."

Membership

  • associate

    Lehrman Institute

Interests

  • Writers

    Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Evelyn Waugh, Kingsley Amis, P. G. Wodehouse and Conor Cruise O'Brien

Connections

Mr. Hitchens was married twice, first to Eleni Meleagrou, a Greek Cypriot in 1981; the couple had a son, Alexander, and a daughter, Sophia. In 1991, Christopher Hitchens married Carol Blue, an American screenwriter, in a ceremony held at the apartment of Victor Navasky, editor of The Nation. They had a daughter, Antonia.

father:
Eric Ernest Hitchens - military

mother:
Yvonne Jean (Hickman) Hitchens

son:
Alexander Hitchens

daughter:
Sophia Hitchens

daughter:
Antonia Hitchens

wife:
Eleni Meleagrou

wife:
Carol Blue

References

  • Christopher Hitchens Is Dead at 62 — Obituary - The New York Times Mr. Hitchens wrote in the tradition of Thomas Paine and George Orwell and trained his sights on targets as various as Henry Kissinger, the British monarchy and Mother Teresa.
  • Christopher Hitchens Quotes (Author of god is Not Great) 1101 quotes from Christopher Hitchens: 'Owners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.', 'That which can be asserted without evidence, can be dismissed without evidence.', and 'To terrify children with the image of hell, to consider women an inferior creation—is that good for the world?'