Christopher Hitchens, author, polemicist, and always-controversial talk show personality, died at the MD Anderson Cancer Center, in Houston, after a battle with esophageal cancer, reports Vanity Fair. He was 62. The British intellectual published his 11th book in spring 2010, a personal memoir called Hitch-22. It was aptly titled, since the man himself was full of contradictions. He was a self-described internationalist socialist who was also a fierce supporter of the war in Iraq. He was a ferocious opponent of Muslim extremism — “fascism with an Islamic face,” he called it — but also a critic of Christianity and all other organized religions (his 2007 book was titled God Is Not Great). Like Gore Vidal — his one-time mentor, until Hitchens publicly called him as a “crackpot” — he was most famous for being a highly entertaining contrarian. (You can check out a clip of some of his best TV appearances below.)
Hitchens was a Royal Navy brat, growing up in different naval bases throughout the United Kingdom. He attended Oxford Universtiy, began his journalism career at the New Statesmen (where he became friends with novelists Martin Amis and Ian McEwan), then came to the U.S. in the 1980s to write for The Nation and Vanity Fair (he became an American citizen in 2007). His most recent published book, Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens, included over 100 essays on topics ranging from the Harry Potter books to Afghanistan and Thomas Jefferson. It was named one of the top ten best books of 2011 by The New York Times.
Hitchens is survived by his wife, Carol Blue, and his three children, Alexander, Sophia, and Antonia. His brother, Peter, is also a journalist and author, although much of Peter’s writing is in defense of Christianity and organized religion.