Christopher Hitchens (13/4/1949-15/12/2011) was a writer, polemicist and self-described contrarian. His prolific writings were on UK and US politics, religion, history and critiques of anything that he felt strongly about. Although starting on the political left, he dismissed them for what he saw as capitulation in the Satanic Verses controversy and he supported his friend Salman Rushdie.
He later supported the Iraq war and was frequently dismissed by conservatives as being liberal and by liberals as being a conservative. In truth he was an extremely complicated individual who was one of the most erudite and well-read commentators around.
He became famous in Atheist circles towards the end of his life as one of the 'Four Horsemen' (alongside Dawkins, Dennett and Harris) promoting atheist ideas in the post 9/11 era. He took part in many debates and speaking tours opposite theists and believers of all stripes, rarely ever being lost for words, quotes or pithy and devastating arguments. Today would have been his birthday.