British-born journalist and atheist intellectual Christopher Hitchens, who made the United States his home and backed the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, died on Thursday at the age of 62.Over the years I came to admire Hitchens, not for his beliefs or lack of religious belief, but for the sheer power of his mind. No one in their right mind, except perhaps William Buckley, would take him on in a face to face debate. We who watched him over the years would often be rivited as his wonderfully upper crust British accent embellished his authority. I was not familiar with his writing, but he counted on it as "who he was" to the very end. The article concludes:
Hitchens died in Houston of pneumonia, a complication of cancer of the esophagus, Vanity Fair magazine said.
"Christopher Hitchens - the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant - died today at the age of 62," Vanity Fair said.
A heavy smoker and drinker, Hitchens cut short a book tour for his memoir "Hitch 22" last year to undergo chemotherapy after being diagnosed with cancer.
As a journalist, war correspondent and literary critic, Hitchens carved out a reputation for barbed repartee, scathing critiques of public figures and a fierce intelligence.
In his last essay on www.vanityfair.com, dated "January 2012," Hitchens said his illness made him question the saying attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche that "Whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger."For such a wonderful raconteur to die of esophogeal cancer is terribly ironic. And that he died not long after writing his last piece for Vanity Fair I find very sad. He and Steve Jobs (another towering intellect) were too young to be victims of cancer.
A painkiller injection just before typing the article titled "Trial of the Will," Hitchens wrote, caused "numbness in the extremities, filling me with the not irrational fear that I shall lose the ability to write. Without that ability, I feel sure in advance, my 'will to live' would be hugely attenuated."
How long do we have to wait for a cure for the scourge of early death from cancer? After all it is 2011. I am 74 and a breast cancer survivor, soon to be five years. I am optimistic about my chances because of a very early diagnosis. But I remain sad because others were not so lucky.
Rest in peace, Mr Hitchens. I am sorry your voice has been stilled too early.
Additional reading in the Washington Post.