Writer Christopher Hitchens dead of cancer at 62

Dec. 16, 2011 at 1:17 AM
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HOUSTON, Dec. 16 (UPI) -- Christopher Hitchens, known for his acerbic wit as a social and political essayist, has died in Texas following a bout with cancer, Vanity Fair said. He was 62.

Hitchens had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2010, the magazine said in announcing the death of Hitchens, who had written for Vanity Fair since 1992. He died Thursday at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

In announcing his death, the magazine called Hitchens "the incomparable critic, masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant."

In an essay in the magazine in June, Hitchens wrote that his "chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends."

Hitchens, a devout atheist, said in March he was being treated for cancer by a U.S. doctor who is an advocate for religious faith. In an interview with a London newspaper, Hitchens described himself as a "guinea pig" for treatment aimed at attacking his cancer of the esophagus on the genetic level.

Hitchens and Dr. Frank Collins, director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, became friends after meeting in a debate.

Both had written books on religion -- Hitchens was the author of "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," while Collins wrote "The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief."

"It is a rather wonderful relationship," Hitchens said. "I won't say he doesn't pray for me, because I think he probably does; but he doesn't discuss it with me."

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