Friday, December 16, 2011

Christopher Hitchens Dead at 62

By now, most of you know that Christopher Hitchens died yesterday in Houston where he spent his final days battling the cancer that killed him.  The news of his death, though not unexpected, is saddening.  I will keep this simple - and from my heart.  I don't want to get into all the specific things that Christopher Hitchens accomplished in his 62 years.  Rather, I want to share with you why I admired Christopher Hitchens, the man, so much.

Hitchens was probably the most politically incorrect man I've ever run across.  I didn't always agree with him, but Hitchens told it like it was, not worrying about offending anyone, hurting feelings, or avoiding buzz words that could be distorted and used by others in a personal attack on him.  He was interested in telling the truth as he saw it, and he pulled no punches in getting his message out.  I loved him for that.

The man was brilliant.  Read his essays, magazine pieces, and books if you don't believe me.  He was passionate about the injustices he saw in the world and he wanted to make the rest of us passionate enough to insist that something be done about those things.  He recognized the enemy and he would not apologize for pointing out exactly who that was.  Of course, he made many enemies along the way, but those enemies, more often than not, exposed themselves as being on the wrong side of history while attempting to prove Hitchens wrong.

And, finally, I admire Christopher Hitchens for not finding God in his final days.  For eighteen months, Hitchens knew that he was dying, giving him plenty of time to reject his atheism in favor of Christianity or some other "acceptable" religion.  That he did not play that game, proves his personal courage.  Christopher Hitchens left this world walking the walk, not just talking it.  I will miss him.

Previous Book Chase posts on Christopher Hitchens:

Christopher Hitchens's "Year of Living Dyingly"
Hitch-22: A Memoir
Christopher Hitchens on Cancer Etiquette 
Chris Hitchens in the Battle of His Life


  1. Well said, Sam. A brilliant and brave man.


  2. Thanks, Nik. He was definitely one of a kind.

  3. This is a beautiful tribute, Sam.
    I always knew that I would be sad when the day came that we would find ourselves Hitchensless -- it's heart-rending for me.
    I loved the man -- wait a minute, why am I using the past tense? I still do! There are things about his final days that I think of as being extremely heroic.
    I may be slightly more Hitchensized than you, I think I did agree with everything he said.

  4. I got a little misty yesterday watching a speech he made last spring in which he said that he didn't want to give up and accept God and "have faith"; no, he wanted to go on for as long as he could studying and striving for the truth.

    My son took to Hitchens even more than I did, and I can see the positive results in the way he discusses different or difficult subjects. He's more thoughtful. It's hard to explain.

  5. Thanks, Sam. A fitting tribute to a great and brilliant author. I admire the fact that you respected him, despite the fact that you didn't always agree with him.

  6. Exactly, Cip. We STILL love the man. He made that kind of impact on so many of us.

    It was my not always agreeing with him that convinced me as to just how brilliant a man and debater Hitch was. He made me question my positions on issues in a way no one else has ever done.

  7. Susan, it is exactly that kind of courage that made me admire him most. He was in the foxhole and he still maintained his search for the truth rather than taking the easy way out. Right or wrong, he was a man of his convictions.

    That he had such a positive influence on your son speaks highly of both of them.

  8. Thanks for that, Randy. It's not always easy to respect someone who hits at your core beliefs, but Hitchens was the kind of man that could accomplish that.