About Christopher Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens was a journalist, who was determined to intellectually slay certain sacred cows, in the service of socialist and then a more liberal cause. He captivated his audiences, helped by the deeply rich tones in his voice, his entertaining and rich rhetoric, his iconoclasm and contrariness, and the combination of controlled aggression, snarling and sardonic humour.
He was bought up in Oxford, and went to the Leys Board school in Cambridge, before going on to study at Cambridge University and launching into a career or journalism, commentary, TV debate shows and polemics.
Most of his life was dedicated to twisting the knife into something of the most sacred and taboo subjects, and yet he was also a hedonist and party man par excellence. Known for his love of drink, food, sex and Dionysian excess, he died of cancer at the relatively young age of 62.
On His Brother Peter Hitchens
Christopher Hitchens had a younger brother, Peter Hitchens, who like Christopher, has carved out a role for himself, but on the right, being again an intellectual and independently minded religious ‘conservative’, criticising a whole raft of stuff across the political divide, including a whole swathe of policies and politicians within the Conservative Party, past and present.
I do find it extraordinary that these two brothers, whilst taking slightly different educational and career routes, have carved out such similar careers and roles – finding a niche between journalism, TV commentary and politics – and yet on opposite sides of the political divide.
Peter Hitchens, compared to Christopher, appears to lack a sense of humour (I say appear, he admits to lacking a sense of humour himself, although sometimes I am not sure he is not mimicking what others say about him, which if true would mean that, technically speaking, he was attempting a joke). He smarts if someone hits him square on, and his modus operandi is to display anger, dismay and the mildest sense of desperation and anger. In contrast his brother Christopher, faced with a similar attack, would have danced backwards, and then forwards, using his charm, and building up a sophisticated set of arguments, leading to a smooth knifing of his opponent.
I find many of Peter Hitchens illogical, in that his conclusions do not seem to be the logical conclusion of the premises he starts with. I sometimes wonder if his very raison d’etre, without him realising it, and having always looked up to Christopher and being the younger of the two brothers, has been to do what Christopher does, but back to Christopher and as a reaction to whatever line Christopher took. In other words, I sometimes get the impression that whilst Christopher seemed to have enjoyed the career he forged himself, Peter appears more unhappy with his lot, and almost lost and lacking passion for his own efforts and exertions, perhaps because they are always in reaction to his brother, rather than for the love of the arguments themselves.