Christopher Hitchens’ 10 Most Admirable Qualities

A wartime lexicon.
Dec. 16 2011 1:05 AM

Hitch-10

The 10 things that I found most admirable about Christopher Hitchens.

3467169
Christopher Hitchens had a No. 1 best-seller with God Is Not Great.

Photograph by Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

See Slate’s full tribute to the life of Christopher Hitchens. Read Slate’s complete collection of Christopher Hitchens' columns.

I had the privilege of publishing two books by Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great and Hitch-22.  Here are 10 things about him I found particularly admirable:

1. He didn’t need much editing.

Advertisement

2. He had good ideas in the shower.  That’s where he came up with the title for God Is Not Great.

3.  He was resolute about meeting deadlines. In fact, he often delivered pages earlier than he promised.

4.  He was zealous about getting his facts right, so much so that he asked us to destroy an early printing because he did not want any incorrect material publicly disseminated.

5. When I remarked that the first draft of his memoir had more sex in it than love, he joked that we should use that description in our advertising.

6.  He respected the privacy of those he loved, though that did not prevent him from writing with sharp candor about those he considered “such appalling public shits that they have forfeited their right to bitch.”

7.  He’s the only author I’ve ever worked with who addressed me as “Comrade.”

8. Along similar lines, he wasn’t in it for the money.  After God Is Not Great became a No. 1 best-seller, he could have received larger advances from other publishers, or written another commercially successful polemic. Instead, he chose to write a memoir because that’s what felt right to him.

9. He opposed tyranny and championed liberty in an unusually brave way, traveling with revolutionaries; bearing witness to injustice; and making politically unpopular arguments. (See: Iraq.)

10.  In every single interaction we had, he was a man of principle and integrity.

See Slate’s full tribute to the life of Christopher Hitchens. Read Slate’s complete collection of Christopher Hitchens' columns.

Jonathan Karp, the publisher of Simon & Schuster, edited God Is Not Great and Hitch-22 for Twelve, an imprint he established for the Hachette Book Group.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 21 2014 1:02 PM Where Are Slate Plus Members From? This Weird Cartogram Explains. A weird-looking cartogram of Slate Plus memberships by state.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Technology
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Climate Desk
Oct. 21 2014 11:53 AM Taking Research for Granted Texas Republican Lamar Smith continues his crusade against independence in science.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.