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.
TODAY IN SLATE
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
Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?
Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?
Driving in Circles
The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.