Christopher Hitchens, the British-born literary essayist, journalist, social critic and political pundit died last night at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, of pneumonia, a complication of his esophageal cancer, according to a statement from Vanity Fair, where he was a contributing editor. Hitchens was 62.

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter described Hitchens as "a man of ferocious intellect."

"There will never be another like Christopher," Carter said. "Those who read him felt they knew him, and those who knew him were profoundly fortunate souls."

One of the most vital and prolific public intellectuals of his generations, Hitchens was a shrewd debater, powerful polemicist and a self-defined radical who cut down his opponents with help from his razor-sharp wit.

See Vanity Fair's multi-media tribute to Hitchens.
Read our Q&A with Hitchens about his memoir, Hitch 22 from June 2010.