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Christopher Hitchens, one of the most famous atheists of the past decade and who died in Dec. 2011, has been put on trial in a new book that analyzes the life and work of the outspoken author.
"It is written in the spirit of a trial," political activist and author Richard Seymour tells the Guardian. "I do attempt to get a sense of the complexity and gifts of the man, but it is very clearly a prosecution, and you can guess my conclusion."
Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens, details a number of aspects of Hitchens' life that some may find surprising, such as the atheist's support of the American invasion of Iraq in 2003. It argues that the author shifted from a "career-minded socialist" and "left-wing firebrand" position to become a "neoconservative Marxist" and claims that he was a supporter of the George W. Bush administration.
Seymour's book is said to be highly critical of Hitchens' arguments on religion, war and politics, but it also takes a look at the atheist's undeniable talents, such as his gifts in public speaking and writing.
"There are parts in his writing where you read it and glow, it's so perfectly put," Seymour argues. The main focus on the book, however, is described as "a denunciation of the changes he underwent in the last 10 years in particular, with Iraq and America the two central themes".
Hitchens, who passed away in 2001 after a long fight with stage IV esophageal cancer, remained committed to his public engagement to the very end and did not miss an appearance if his strength allowed him.
"There will never be another like Christopher," Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter said in a statement. The 62-year-old author, a regular contributor to the magazine, was most famous for his books God is Not Great and Hitch 22.
"A man of ferocious intellect who was as vibrant on the page as he was at the bar. Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls," Carter added.
Seymour shared with the Guardian that if Hitchens was alive today, he "might have had a bit of a laugh" about the new book, the cover of which depicts the author with a wide-eyed, joker-like expression.
"One thing in his favor is that he was narcissistic but not prickly or vain," Seymour added. "I think he would have thrown an insult or two at me. He described Max Blumenthal as 'a young skunk who hasn't learned to piss yet' and I think I could expect something along those lines."
A synopsis for Unhitched: The Trial of Christopher Hitchens, which was released on Jan. 16 and is available in bookstores and online, concludes: "As an orator and writer, Hitchens offered something unique and highly marketable. But for all his professed individualism, he remains a recognizable historical type-the apostate leftist. Unhitched presents a rewarding and entertaining case study, one that is also a cautionary tale for our times."