Christopher Hitchens died Thursday of esophageal cancer. He was, in the words of The Washington Post, “master of the contrarian essay” and, as his home publication Vanity Fair describes him, “a wit, a charmer and a troublemaker.”

Hitchens was a political iconoclast who could surprise a receptive conservative audience by addressing them as “comrades.” He infuriated the left with his support of the war in Iraq, and he irked the right with his condemnation of such conservative sacred cows as religion and the torture policies of George W. Bush.

“If waterboarding does not constitute torture,” he wrote after experiencing the procedure himself, “then there is no such thing as torture.”

Hitchens was, if nothing else, an impossible man to pin down. He was an original. — PZS

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