Christopher Hitchens Dead at 62
Cancer claims one-of-a-kind firebrand author
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 16, 2011 12:41 AM CST
Updated Dec 16, 2011 7:20 AM CST
Hitchens described his cancer as a "blind, emotionless alien, cheered by some who have long wished me ill."   (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
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(Newser) – Author, intellectual, and firebrand atheist Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62 after a long fight with esophageal cancer. The British-born writer, who had lived in Washington DC since 1982, chronicled his illness with the same caustic insight he directed at targets including Bill Clinton, Mother Teresa, and Henry Kissinger, and scoffed at the idea that terminal cancer would change his mind about religion, NPR notes.

Hitchens, who wrote 17 books, was a radical leftist in his early days but shifted to the right over the years and became one of the left's fiercest critics after the September 11 attacks. His greatest passions, friends say, were politics and argument—as well as drinking and smoking. "There will never be another like Christopher,” said Graydon Carter, editor of Vanity Fair, where Hitchens was a columnist for nearly 20 years. “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.'"