Born in the UK in 1949, Hitchens is an author, Journalist, political observer, anti-theist, professional contrarian, and apparently one of the Four Horsemen of the apocalypse. His superb knowledge of classical literature and history give his biting commentary a depth largely missing from modern journalism.
Regarded by many as the literary and intellectual heir to Gore Vidal, Hitchens combines Vidal’s nuanced and literary writing with a fearless pursuit of his subjects. I say fearless because his targets are not small, or even medium fry. Mother Theresa, The Clintons, Religion and Henry Kissinger are not only subjects with considerable resources at their disposal but also substantial followers who are always ready to jump to their defense. His approach can be well summed up with the following quote from Letters to a Young Contrarian:
“Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.”
Aside from his scathing analyses of various public figures is his love of history, literature and art. Consequently half of his writings are biographies of people like George Orwell, Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson.
Counted amongst his friends are a variety of literary and intellectual heavy weights: Martin Amis, Ian McEwen, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett and Sam Harris. Combined with the latter four, they’re collectively known as The Four Horsemen and the New Atheists. Of this group he is probably the most successful debater of Apologists and other religious defenders. Video’s of these debates abound on the web and are both entertaining and enlightening. Despite Hitchens using similar arguments from one debate to the next, few seem prepared, leading Richard Dawkins to say “If you are a religious apologist invited to debate with Christopher Hitchens, decline.” Which from my point of views represents the crux of Hitchens’ approach: know your material! No matter what perspective you take of his opinions this is sage advice.