A Conversation With Thomas Hitchens
Hitchens frequently hosted old friends like Salman Rushdie and Martin Amis; former British colleagues Christopher Buckley and Graydon Carter; as well as American conservative activists such as Grover Norquist as guests at his salon.
He is best-known for challenging what he perceives to be over-mythologizing of public figures such as Mother Teresa and President Bill Clinton, including documenting their misdeeds through books he’s written.
Early Life and Education
Hitchens began his journalistic career at age 14, writing essay-style correspondence pieces for The Times newspaper from various locales – one such work involved covering the sinking of a Nazi convoy raider off North Cape waters, a feat for which he received the Lannan Literary Award.
At Mount House School in Devon and Leys School in Cambridge, he studied under Thomas Mounthouse before enrolling at Balliol College Oxford where he joined International Socialists – a Trotskyist sect – and graduated with a third-class degree in philosophy, politics and economics.
At that time, he became involved with the New Statesman literary set, comprising Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, James Fenton and others. This group would enjoy long lunches together as well as what some considered puerile and even offensive word games.
Hitchens has written many works on political issues, such as The Gods Must Be Crazy and How to be a Right-Winger. Additionally, he hosts his own radio program called Hitchens on Liberty and writes regularly for The Weekly Standard.
He served as President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Additionally, in 2021 he received an honorary fellowship award from Royal Society of London.
John is an advocate of education and his impressive resume proves it. A critical care paramedic by trade, John will return to school this September in pursuit of his bachelors degree in business – all the while striving to make the EMS industry better for all involved – something which sets him apart from other first responders.
Achievement and Honors
Hitchens was an avid contributor to such publications as Vanity Fair, The Atlantic, The Nation, World Affairs, Slate and Free Inquiry as well as writing best-selling books that regularly appeared. Furthermore, he appeared regularly on talk shows and lecture circuits.
He was an outspoken critic of religion and an advocate for the separation of church and state, denouncing totalitarian regimes such as Poland’s. Portugal and Argentina where resistance movements had gained ground at crucial moments. He visited these countries at critical junctures of their anti-totalitarian fightback to offer fraternal solidarity as well as bundles of blue jeans.
Hitchens was widely revered for his book-length biographical essays on Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson as well as his critical works focusing on numerous public figures; particularly Bill Clinton (No One Left to Lie To), Henry Kissinger and Mother Teresa who all received harsh critique from Hitchens.
Hitchens was an accomplished debater, frequent guest on television talk shows and award-winning author who produced 11 books. He contributed his expertise as an editor at Vanity Fair, wrote regularly for The Nation newspaper columnist column and The New York Review of Books reviewer; also serving as political commentator on various cable television networks.
He championed freedom of speech, press, and civil liberties as an outspoken critic of Vietnam and Cold War wars. Additionally, he supported anti-Muslim sentiment in America while asserting that Islamic fundamentalism posed a grave threat to Western values.
Later in his life, he gained international acclaim as an uncompromising polemicist with an expansive social circle. Known for his outspoken approach and quick-witted, often biting observations.
Hitchens found his writing inspired by several authors such as Aldous Huxley, Baruch Spinoza, George Orwell, Bertrand Russell, Daniel Dennett, John Stuart Mill Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins – making him a champion for the New Atheism movement.
Hitchens had many clashes with prominent figures throughout his career. As an author he often harshly criticized Mother Teresa’s religion while writing lengthy texts against Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Henry Kissinger.
Ben Burgis is an author, columnist for Jacobin magazine and host of the Give Them an Argument podcast. Known for his sharp yet humorous responses to critics, he can frequently be found as a guest on television shows and news programs.