Passing of another great orator / writer / reformed-communist-revolutionary.
I strongly recommend Hitchens' biography, Hitch-22. In all likelihood, given his slow death from cancer, Hitchens will be remembered most for his vocal pro-atheist stance, and his consistency in maintaining and defending his beliefs even in the face of a fatal disease. For me, however, the more interesting and compelling side of Hitchens was his political metamorphosis from left-wing radical to staunch pro-interventionist supporter of both Iraq wars. Like great left intellectuals of the early 20th cent. (e.g. Aldous Huxley or George Orwell) Hitchens gradually grew to realize the inconsistency between the rhetoric of the left (pro-worker / underdog) and its actual policy choices and implementation of those policies (Stalinist Russia, Maoist China, or take your pick of any practicing communist country out there). Amongst many other amusing anecdotes and diatribes, Hitch-22 details Hitchens gradual realization that the libertarian and collectivist tendencies of the "left" (communist?) ideology were in profound and inherent conceptual conflict. Facing a choice, he chose liberty, freedom, and the autonomy of individuals over the dogmatic adherence to collectivism, developing a surprisingly (disappointingly!) idiosyncratic, but internally consistent and well-motivated, stance, unique on the political scene.
He will be sorely missed, both for his courage to hold consistent and reasonable views, and for his eloquence in defending them.
Explaining what the "left" would have to be like for me to identify with it.
If there is a heaven based on merit, Hitchens will go there; and if it is based on faith alone, it won't be worth going to . . .