I meant to publish this obituary earlier. I see it has since been revised. Christopher Hitchens managed to embed himself in American society and with his ascerbic wit find ways to skewer it that few other contemporary American journalists seemed capable of doing. I thought his support for the Iraq war absurd, and it led to a breach between him and the liberal media, but in recent years he seemed to find favor again with his caustic attacks on Sarah Palin, the Tea Party and Conservatism in general.
I've enjoyed his op-ed pieces over the years, if not his books. I thought it was presumptuous of him to feel he had reached the same "power of facing" as Orwell over the situation in Iraq. Still, he certainly had the "power" of a good argument, even up to his last days.
His positions remind me a lot of Thomas Paine. Not surprisingly he was a big fan of Paine. His critical examination of religion and its influence on politics at times appears straight out of The Age of Reason. Unfortunately, now as then, we have been unable to come to terms with it in any meaningful way. He will be missed.