After his death, I was struck by how many people used the phrase “my friend” in their remembrances of Christopher Hitchens. It shows how clubbable he was, despite the terrible swift sword he was unable to leave for long in its scabbard, and also how formidable were his seductive powers. Christopher never hid his intention to use people as the surfaces on which he intended to leave a fingerprint, and most of the time he made sure that this impression was a keepsake with lasting value.

My own acquaintanceship with him—it was no more than that—began in 1987 when my friend David Horowitz and I staged a Second Thoughts Conference in Washington, D.C. to provide a forum for former New Leftists who, like us, had resigned from our radical generation and embraced America as the hope of the world rather than its curse. Hitchens had already made his feelings known about such transitions in his brutal attack on Paul Johnson f ...