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Christopher Hitchens Dead at 62: A Brief History

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  • Christopher Hitchens
    (Photo: REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)
    Christopher Hitchens, journalist and author of his memoir "Hitch 22," poses for a portrait outside his hotel in New York, June 7, 2010.
By Justin Sarachik, Christian Post Reporter
December 16, 2011|3:42 pm

Journalist Christopher Hitchens has died of pneumonia, brought on by complications due to esophageal cancer Thursday night. He was 62-years-old.

Also an author, thinker, and outspoken atheist, Hitchens’ journalistic career lasted more than 40 years.

Perhaps two of the biggest things Hitchens was known for was his belief in Socialism and ardent belief in atheism or as he called it, "antitheist" – meaning an atheist may wish belief in God is correct, while an antitheist is someone who is relieved there is no evidence of God.

Hitchens wrote a book in 2007 called God Is Not Great, which largely spoke out against the Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.

The New York Times said his book focused on the "logical flourishes and conundrums" of organized religion.

In a speech the writer gave in Toronto, Canada, he blamed religion as the source of the world's major problems. "[Religion is] the main source of hatred in the world. [It's]Violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children."

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Furthermore, at a lecture where he was discussing his book, he gave an open challenge to any religious leader to come and debate him on his beliefs.

Hitchens began written debates, called "Is Christianity Good for the World?," with pastor and Christian theologian Douglas Wilson. Their debates were posted in the magazine Christianity Today. That series of dialogues eventually became a book by the same name, and a documentary film as well.

Hitchens also famously debated former British Prime Minister Tony Blair on religious beliefs, where he won over the crowd in favor of his arguments 68 to 32, according to CBC news.

He became a socialist due to his lifelong studies of government, politics, and history. Although by 2001 he stopped calling himself a socialist for its bad implications, and lack of alternative choices. Hitchens did however, embrace Marxism.

He looked up to revolutionaries and communist leaders like Che Guevara, Vladimir Lenin, and Leon Trotsky.

Peter Hitchens, Christopher's younger brother, is a journalist in London and also a Christian.

The brothers had a falling out over a false statement Peter wrote about Chris – to which he fired back calling his brother an "idiot" in a letter to political magazine Commentary.

The dispute went back and forth and eventually they reconciled and began to appear in interviews together, saying that their personal disagreements had been resolved.

Born in Portsmouth, England to parents who served in the Royal Navy, Hitchens was educated at an independent school. He also attended Balliol College in Oxford.

It was there that he worked with tutor Steven Lukes, as he studied philosophy, politics, and economics.

Throughout the 60s he experimented with affinities to different political parties, and held strong stances on topics such as the Vietnam War, nuclear weapons, and racism.

In the early 70s he began writing for International Socialism magazine, and around the same time graduated from Oxford with his third degree, according to Prospect magazine.

Shortly after this, he became social science editor for Times Higher Education Supplement.

He was fired from that job and went on to work at New Statesman where he began to develop his extreme left wing tendencies.

Hitchens next wrote for The Nation after he immigrated to the United States in 1981. It was here that his strong political views began to surface through as he critiqued Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush's policies.

Throughout the 80s he was a foreign correspondent reporter in Cyprus, and traveled much of Europe.

While working at The Nation, Hitchens became a Contributing Editor for Vanity Fair in 1992.

He left the Nation in 2002 after having a disagreement over the way the Iraq war was to be covered.

Hitchens was a supporter of the war, which made him very popular in the mid 2000s, earning him the honor of being ranked number five on a list compiled by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines for "Top 100 Public Intellectuals."

Hitchens was married to his first wife Eleni Meleagrou in 1981 and had two children with her, Alexander and Sophia. However, he left her in 1989 for an American writer by the name of Carol Blue, and had one daughter, Antonia.

He was diagnosed with cancer in June 2010.

 

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