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Provocative British-Born Author Christopher Hitchens Dead at 62

Essayist Christopher Hitchens speaks during a debate on Iraq and the foreign policies of the United States and Britain, in this September 14, 2005 file photo taken in New York.
Essayist Christopher Hitchens speaks during a debate on Iraq and the foreign policies of the United States and Britain, in this September 14, 2005 file photo taken in New York.

Provocative British-born American writer and intellectual Christopher Hitchens has died at the age of 62 following a long battle with cancer.

Vanity Fair magazine, where Hitchens worked as a columnist, said the sharp-witted commentator died late Thursday of pneumonia, a complication of the esophageal cancer he was diagnosed with in 2010.

Though Hitchens developed a high-profile in 2007 with his controversial international bestseller, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, he spent the majority of his career as a war-time journalist, literary critic and prominent political commentator.

Hitchens did not fit into any easily definable political mold. After spending years as a correspondent for the left-leaning magazine The Nation, he went on to become a strong supporter of former Republican President George W. Bush and the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

Hitchens was born to a nominally Christian family, but discovered later in life that his mother had deliberately hidden her Jewish heritage.

His combative disdain for organized religion and love for debates made him one of the world's most well-respected and most reviled religious skeptics.

A heavy smoker with a love for Scotch whisky, Hitchens was forced to postpone a national book tour after being diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus in June 2010.

Upon his death, Vanity Fair described him as an "incomparable critic masterful rhetorician, fiery wit, and fearless bon vivant."

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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