Christopher Hitchens’ 10 Most Admirable Qualities

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


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

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.


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.



The Democrats’ War at Home

How can the president’s party defend itself from the president’s foreign policy blunders?

Congress’ Public Shaming of the Secret Service Was Political Grandstanding at Its Best

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

A Plentiful, Renewable Resource That America Keeps Overlooking

Animal manure.

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10


Cringing. Ducking. Mumbling.

How GOP candidates react whenever someone brings up reproductive rights or gay marriage.

Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Hasbro Is Cracking Down on Scrabble Players Who Turn Its Official Word List Into Popular Apps

The Ludicrous Claims You’ll Hear at This Company’s “Egg Freezing Parties”

  News & Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
Buy a Small Business
Oct. 1 2014 11:43 AM “I Didn’t Want to Build the Next Twitter for Cats” Search funds are the quiet, dependable, risk-averse sibling to the startup. 
The Vault
Oct. 1 2014 10:49 AM James Meredith, Determined to Enroll at Ole Miss, Declares His Purpose in a 1961 Letter
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 10:54 AM “I Need a Pair of Pants That Won’t Bore Me to Death” Troy Patterson talks about looking sharp, flat-top fades, and being Slate’s Gentleman Scholar.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 10:44 AM Everyone’s Favorite Bob’s Burgers Character Gets a Remix You Can Dance to
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 11:41 AM Study: Narcissists Watch More Porn Online
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 1 2014 7:30 AM Say Hello to Our Quasi-Moon, 2014 OL339
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.