Numerous sites have run obituaries and/or assessments of Christopher Hitchens, who succumbed to cancer yesterday. Herewith my modest contribution.
Hitchens had an enormous and apparently effortless talent that he often wasted in picked fights with real or imagined enemies. In this I saw, and was put off by, the kind of debate for debate's sake outlook of a veteran of competitive debating. His greatest mistake was advocating for the invasion of Iraq, and this failure to be on the right side of history will deny him his most cherished goal of being his generation's Orwell. Eloquence in the defense of extremism is, in fact, a vice.
On the other hand he also put his talent to use in highly readable lit-crit essays for Atlantic Monthly as well as a very clear-eyed appraisal of his own impending demise.
I welcome your own assessments of Hitchens' legacy in comments; I am especially interested to hear from JJV on this. Before you write, though, please consider this.
Some of the observations and comments attached to other sites' pieces on Hitchens are quite nasty, and so far all have not seen fit to mention that as of yesterday, there is a woman missing her husband and a young girl missing her father. Kindly keep that in mind.
Resquiascat in pace.