The British polemicist Christopher Hitchens, perhaps best known in later years for his unwavering opposition to organized religion and for butting heads with his comrades on the Left over the Iraq war, died last night of pneumonia after a yearlong struggle with esophageal cancer. In his 62 years, Hitchens wrote more than a dozen books as well as columns for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair, Slate, World Affairs, the Nation, Free Inquiry, and other media outlets, on topics ranging from foreign policy to literary criticism.
In 2007, Hitchens visited Iowa for the first time for a lecture at Iowa State University after the publication of his book God Is Not Great (which became a trending topic on Twitter in the hours following his death, aptly angering Christians unfamiliar with his work). Ames Progressive managing editor Gavin Aronsen picked Hitchens up from his Des Moines hotel by the airport, taking him on a tour of the Capitol Building and the State Fairgrounds before arriving in Ames.
“I don’t remember ever to have been to a state of this union — and I’ve now been to 44 of them — where everyone put themselves out so much, and so generously, and so warmly,” Hitchens said at the start of his lecture. Later that night, while Aronsen drove Hitchens back to his hotel, he and AP contributor Ryan Gerdes interviewed the author as Gerdes held up an audio recorder from the back seat of the car.