The best of Christopher Hitchens

The best books by Christopher Hitchens, who has died aged 62

Christopher Hitchens, the author and journalist famous for his outspoken political and secular views, died yesterday aged 62.

During his prolific career, the Anglo-American writer appeared in publications as varied as the New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement, the Daily Express and Vanity Fair, where he was contributing editor from 1992. He travelled widely, reporting first hand on the oppressive regimes in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Argentina.

His political beliefs never failed to garner attention from the press, whether criticising Henry Kissinger for his bombings of Cambodia, or expressing support for George W Bush and the invasion of Iraq, which surprised many of his left-wing advocates.

Born in 1949, he studied at Oxford, where he was drawn towards the political left. In the 1970s he worked at the New Statesman where he became friends with Martin Amis and Ian McEwan. He moved to America in 1981, attaining US citizenship in 2007. He was the author of 17 books, including The Trial of Henry Kissinger and God Is Not Great, which earned him celebrity status as the best-known atheist in his adopted home country.

He was diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer in 2010 while touring his memoir, Hitch-22, and detailed his condition in his Vanity Fair column. His is survived by his wife, Carol Blue, and three children from two marriages.

His publisher at Atlantic Toby Mundy said today: "There is no-one like Christopher Hitchens. He was the most brilliant and versatile non-fiction writer of modern times, whose prodigious output was of stunningly high quality, a showcase for his vast range, deep knowledge and fierce wit...

"He is, quite simply, irreplaceable."

The best Christopher Hitchens reads:

The Trial of Henry Kissinger – A searing indictment of the former US secretary of state, whom Hitchens describes as “a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory", it showcases the writer at his most passionate and politicised.

God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion – Mixing anecdotal evidence with a critical analysis of various religious texts, Hitchens argues that organised religion is violent and intolerant by its very nature, in the process setting himself up as the US-equivalent of Richard Dawkins.

Arguably: Essays – Released earlier this year, this is a collection of 107 previously published essays on a variety of political and cultural themes. A great insight into one of the defining voices of the last 30 years, the New York Times named it one of the 10 best books published in 2011.

Mortality, a collection of essays on death first published in Vanity Fair, will be published in early 2012.




Photo credit: Christian Witkin