Christopher Hitchens Died (1949-2011)

December 16th, 2011 // 72 Comments
Christopher Hitchens

Little known fact: He often enjoyed plotting to kill James Bond.

Prolific, controversial, firebrand, genius drunk Christopher Hitchens died this morning after a lengthy battle with esophageal cancer, according to Vanity Fair, a longtime source of his writing. While I didn’t always agree with the man, specifically his cheerleading of the Iraq War, there was no denying his razor sharp wit and intellect, not to mention his incredible capacity to absorb scotch like it’s goddamn oxygen:

He was a man of insatiable appetites—for cigarettes, for scotch, for company, for great writing, and, above all, for conversation. That he had an output to equal what he took in was the miracle in the man. You’d be hard-pressed to find a writer who could match the volume of exquisitely crafted columns, essays, articles, and books he produced over the past four decades. He wrote often—constantly, in fact, and right up to the end—and he wrote fast; frequently without the benefit of a second draft or even corrections. I can recall a lunch in 1991, when I was editing The New York Observer, and he and Aimée Bell, his longtime editor, and I got together for a quick bite at a restaurant on Madison, no longer there. Christopher’s copy was due early that afternoon. Pre-lunch canisters of scotch were followed by a couple of glasses of wine during the meal and a similar quantity of post-meal cognac. That was just his intake. After stumbling back to the office, we set him up at a rickety table and with an old Olivetti, and in a symphony of clacking he produced a 1,000-word column of near perfection in under half an hour.

People often think I get shit-hammered drunk and write the site, but true story, if I have more than two beers there’s a 95% chance I’ll almost instantly be asleep on the couch with Storage Wars blaring in the background making me the complete and absolute antithesis of Christopher Hitchens unless he, too, was a reluctant fan of seeing people pretend to find the head of General Custer in an Irvine storage locker.

Rest in Peace, Hitch.

Photo: Getty


  1. american bandersnatch

    He was brilliant and will be missed.

  2. jett

    As Dawkins said, “a great mind has been silenced”.
    Cheers Hitch.

  3. Cock Dr

    Dammit dammit dammit.
    I will raise a glass or 3 in his honor.

  4. Shannon

    For those interested, there is a great collection of his best articles as well as a few stories by fellow writers about this brilliant man on today. Hitch, you’ll be missed.

  5. The truly sad part is that he is burning in hell right now.

    • Way too obvious. If you’re going to troll, do it properly.

    • Scott

      Actually you’re going to hell for being a judgmental rightous asshole

    • Dr. Evil

      lol don’t be ridiculous. Satan has made hell very comfy and cushy and there’s no suffering at all. Why would he torture people if that’s what God wants right? He’d do the opposite.

      Just kidding none of it exists :)

    • Capitalist Pancake

      If Hell’s anything like the Simpsons Halloween episode with Homer and the donuts, then I think they’re about to find themselves out of whisky very shortly. But I happen to second what Dr Evil said, so RIP Hitch. Didn’t agree with everything you said, but loved that you were happy to stand up and argue with the whole world until you left it. It takes a certain kind of energy to be that kind of person.

    • camguy, may you be waterboarded and have no one care. You suck at trolling. Fuckwit.

    • arnieblackblack

      Camguy80. You are a twat

    • Jim Jones

      I sure hope so, because a) hell has better company, and b) I would love to talk with Hitch when I get there.

      Just kidding, I don’t believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy anymore, and anyone who does needs to grow the fuck up.

  6. Rachell

    i was shocked to see this article this morning, I had forgotten he was even sick. RIP

  7. A great loss for the intellectual community as a whole and the atheist community in particular. Also, a monstrous loss for the alcohol industry. I’m pretty sure that photograph up there is the only one taken where he doesn’t have a glass in arm’s reach…although I suppose it could be behind the chair…

  8. SIN

    Read and reread the article. Still have no fucking clue who this was.

  9. Ed G.

    I look forward to his spectral appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

    “I was right!!! There is no god.”

  10. cc

    Dammit, I enjoyed listening to this guy. Smart, funny, and acerbic.

    The idiot to smart ratio just took another hit.

  11. RIP? Really? According to him there is no afterlife so he’s basically just a maggot buffet right now…

  12. Lauren

    It’s always sad when someone this young dies. Fifty years ago everyone was dropping dead around 60, and during the middle-ages everyone dropped dead around 30, but, now, No, everyone is popping off in their 90s. He’s too young, and I feel very sad………………………………….

  13. Lauren

    After reading all the above comments if he was an atheist, well, then I don’t feel sad and good riddance to him. I hope the pearly gates will hit him in the ass on his way out. I also have no clue who this frog is…………………

    • hmna

      Not only was he an atheist, he was proudly, combatively so. Take a gander at “God is Not Great” as an example of his writings on his atheism.

    • Rachell

      Exactly Lauren!!! If a person does not believe what I believe, then I shut the Empathy OFF!! It’s what Jesus taught afterall.

    • alexxx

      I hope Lauren comes back to read Rachell’s comment.

    • Rev

      Yeah, Lauren, because you’re going to be skipping through the “pearly gates” with that attitude. I’m sure that’s what Jesus would do.

      But, you honestly think there’s an invisible man and invisible gates and if you don’t believe in them the creator of this great universe will send you eternal damnation?

      Do you burn witches, too?

    • Always say cunt

      More of an anti-theist than an atheist.

  14. The man was undeniable proof that the pen is not only mightier than the sword, but when used with his skills could make his target want to fall on a sword.

    • Carla

      Exactly — like Fish, I didn’t agree with him 100% of the time, but his intellectual combat skills were a thing of beauty.

  15. Gwen

    He looks stone drunk in the picture.

  16. mel

    everyone should watch “christopher hitchens – the best of the hitchslap” on youtube. it reminded me of his lightning fast wit and his elegant vernacular. he was indeed one of the best debaters i’ve ever heard. his death is a terrible loss for anyone who chooses to question their religious teachings and not blindly accept things just because they were told to do so. RIP

  17. Venom

    My father and he were at university together at the same time. I don’t think he was much of a fan of Hitchens. He was a smart man be he had some deep serious issues.

    R.I.P. I guess.

  18. Leila

    i didn’t agree with everything he said [women aren't funny?], but loved his choice of topic and his ability to write about it so well and so often. he will be missed.
    as a totally inappropriate sidebar, given the nature of this article: okay, seriously fish, is there a someplace where i could read your bio? because i freaking LOVE the way you write. everyday, i start with CNN, HuffPost, BBC and THIS SITE. which for a berkeley-educated feminist is pretty much crap, except i think you ROCK. i know there is the whole air of mystery thing that has to be maintained, and i think i am secretly hoping that you are some nascar-fan-boy-in-middle-america, so i can have the illusion that someone in the red states has a fucking clue. but whatever. i would love to know.

    • Rachell

      Agreed! For me it’s all cnn, superficial, glenn greenwald, reality tea, you know, priorities. What do all of those, save CNN, have in common? Great writing and astute commentary! RAWR!

    • Shi

      His “Women Aren’t Funny” article wasn’t really about how women aren’t funny. It was about how men don’t value “funny” in a woman the way women value it in men.

  19. What an amazing intellectual. RIP Hitch. Or…just…be dead, according to you :)

  20. p216

    He actually died last night, not this morning.

  21. mike nike

    I’m not aware of who he was but he sounds like he was an amazing guy. R.I.P. Christopher.

  22. Oh, just…dammit. all to hell I have no words today.

  23. Fred

    In a world of boys, he was a man.

  24. There goes my last reason to visit Slate or read Vanity Fair. I hope he never regretted living his life hard.

  25. Soviet Snow

    Amazing intellectual in particular areas. Apparently not about what goes in your body and is it good for you.

    • Dan

      No… he just thought it was worth it.

      There are some people who quite fully understand the risks of drinking and smoking and do it anyway because it is enjoyable.

      • browny

        Yeah, you might have asked him if he still believed that after he found out he had oesophageal carcinoma. It’s easy to see that he cultivated a hard drinking, smoking libertine persona, a la Hemingway… but, I saw an interview after he was diagnosed and he didn’t look or sound as though he was still going to be endorsing all that faux macho bullshit anymore, given what it did to him. I’m not impugning his intellect of wit but I am reckoning that in quiet moments he might have wished that he hadn’t bought the whole macho thing to the extent that he did. His family and friends are still alive and he’s cold in the ground.


  26. Jerube

    A true human being, an amazing thinker and intellectual with superior realism has passed. It is a sad day for those who tell it like it is as Christopher Hitchens did. His brand is surely needed in this day and age, he will be terribly missed. Good times, sir, good times.

  27. foreverfugly

    God rest his soul. Haha! I kid. Blah, blah, blah. Who gives a shit. Evangelical atheists are as fucking annoying as evangelical Christians. Thinking you’re intellectually superior because you don’t believe in god is as ridiculous as thinking you’re morally superior because you do.

    • eatme

      …well said.

    • browny

      Not intellectually superior. Just right. If you don’t understand the arguments refrain from commenting.

    • Shi

      When was Hitchens an evangelical atheist? He was just outspoken about the lunacies of religion and rightly so! You know, sometimes somebody is just RIGHT. You people have learned to think any argument is as valid as another.

  28. VFairfan

    One of his last articles for Vanity Fair detailed his agonizing fight against his cancer. I read it twice. I could almost feel the intense, searing pain all the medications and radiation brought to him. Just to swallow, he said, was brutal. How said and ironic someone with such a great mind and talent to write & speak was felled by esophogeal cancer.

  29. timmy the dying boy

    I’m going to miss him a hell of a lot more than Steve Jobs.

  30. There is only one atheism and Hitchens is its prophet.

    • browny

      Nah, not really. His book was not a patch on ‘The Atheist Maniefesto’. Read it and marvel. Hitchens’ book was okay but a bit of an also ran to Dawkins’.

      • Colostomy Bag

        I’d suggest the Book “God Speaks”, the words of Meher Baba. Whoever bothers might actually learn a thing or 2.

  31. Bill Bennette

    RIP Christopher Hitchens. Saying he was an inspiration is an understatement.

  32. Chimaera

    Lauren, your comment is the epitome of an unchrist-like attitude (notice I didn’t say unchristian. BIG DIFFERENCE) As a proud atheist I am saddened beyond words at the loss of Hitchens’ insight and intellect piercing a bright light through our idiotic New Dark Ages. Knowing that there is no god and no afterlife is freeing. It allows one to behave morally not out of fear of eternal damnation but because it is the moral thing to do. It allows you to live and to think freely. I don’t kill, steal, cheat, etc. because “10 commandments” say it’s wrong but because through social evolution and education I’ve learned it’s wrong. Christopher Hitchens is by far the greatest loss of 2011.

  33. Colostomy Bag

    Hitchens: God doesn’t exist.

    God: Hitchens doesn’t exist.

  34. Megan Breaux

    Turns out Christopher Hitchens had fans and admirers from all walks of life. Found this post commemorating Hitchens by a rather unlikely blogger. Funny and poignant. He will be missed. Click here to read it for yourself

  35. Shi

    The death of Christopher Hitchens is a huge intellectual loss. We owe him a lot. Cheers Christopher.

  36. Ticonderoga


    “While I didn’t always agree with the man, specifically his cheerleading of the Iraq War”

    Funny how they could never say this while the man was alive. Cause they KNOW he would have intellectually obliterated them in a comeback article.

  37. Pippy Longcockings

    I’m amazed the Superficial even posted this. Kinda highbrow for a site who’s bread and butter is cracks about Britney Spears’ vag isn’t it?

  38. American sheepdog

    Finally Chris found the truth, I hope he likes it!!!!!

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