I did not realize until reading one of the many obituaries about Christopher Hitchens that he’d written a short book about Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man.” I think I’ll make it my next read.
There are a lot of well-deserved tributes to Hitchens today. I was especially moved by Ian McEwan’s in the New York Times. Turned out Hitchens was a man who faced death with bravery and even scorn right up to the end.
In March of 2001, I wrote an overview for the Boston Phoenix of Hitchens’ devastating portrayal of Henry Kissinger, first published in Harper’s and later turned into a book titled “The Trial of Henry Kissinger.”
Which calls to mind my one and only Hitchens anecdote. I can’t remember where I picked it up, and it has the ring of something that ought to be true rather an actual occurrence. But, supposedly, Hitchens was once introduced to Kissinger at a party. Kissinger’s eyes narrowed while Hitchens waited nervously to see what the former secretary of state would say.
“So, you called me a war criminal,” Kissinger told Hitchens.
Hitchens averred that, yes, he had, but that he’d also called Bill Clinton a war criminal because of his air strikes in the former Yugoslavia.
“Bill Clinton,” Kissinger was said to have replied, “doesn’t have the moral courage to be a war criminal.”
If it didn’t actually happen, it damn well should have.