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

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 20 2014 1:50 PM Why We Shouldn’t Be Too Sure About the Supposed Deal to Return the Abducted Nigerian Schoolgirls
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Dear Prudence
Oct. 20 2014 3:12 PM Terror Next Door Prudie advises a letter writer whose husband is dangerously, violently obsessed with the neighbors.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 1:10 PM Women Are Still Losing Jobs for Getting Pregnant
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  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.