Christopher Hitchens turned 58 on April 13. The occasion might typically have passed with little fanfare, but this year, the scruffy British ex-pat had reason to celebrate. Early that day, on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial, he was sworn in as a citizen of the United States. It was a doff of the cap to a country he had already called home for more than a quarter century, but it was also a symbolic gesture of solidarity. As everyone knows by now, the reformed Trotskyite resigned from his post at the Nation after 9/11 to assume what has become his unofficial charge: indefatigable defender of the Bush Administration's adventures in Iraq. Application approved!
Hitchens has always loved a good fight, and his latest literary endeavor, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (Twelve, $24.99), is sure to piss off enough readers to satisfy his thirst. Of course, the book is just another stop on Mr. Hitchens's personal journey to hell, which began at age nine, when he became an atheist, and reached a crescendo in 2002, when the Vatican called him to testify against Mother Teresa during her beatification process. Asked in a recent interview if he had ever prayed in his life, he responded, "Probably once for an erection, but not addressed to anyone in particular. Nor completely addressed to my cock."
Radar sat down for lunch with the iconoclast in his Washington, D.C., home a couple of days after he and wife Carol Blue hosted Vanity Fair's White House Correspondents' Dinner after-party. Over a bowl of oatmeal ("I've got high cholesterol," he explained), followed by cigarettes, Scotch, and a plate of thinly-sliced prosciutto, the Hitch gave us his take on piety, fanaticism, and life as a newly minted American.