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.

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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.

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.