WASHINGTON – Christopher Hitchens, the author, essayist and polemicist who waged verbal and occasional physical battle on behalf of causes left and right and wrote the provocative best-seller “God is Not Great,” died Thursday night after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.
Hitchens’ death was announced in a statement from Conde Nast, publisher of Vanity Fair magazine. The statement says he died Thursday night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer
A most engaged, prolific and public intellectual who enjoyed his drink and cigarettes, he announced in June 2010 that he was being treated for cancer of the esophagus.
Hitchens, a frequent television commentator and a contributor to Vanity Fair, Slate and other publications, had become a popular author in 2007 thanks to “God is Not Great,” a manifesto for atheists that defied a recent trend of religious works. Cancer humbled, but did not mellow him. Even after his diagnosis, his columns appeared weekly, savaging the royal family or reveling in the death of Osama bin Laden.
“I love the imagery of struggle,” he wrote about his illness in an August 2010 essay in Vanity Fair. “I sometimes wish I were suffering in a good cause, or risking my life for the good of others, instead of just being a gravely endangered patient.”