Voted the world's fifth most respected public intellectual in a 2005 ProspectForeign Policy poll, Christopher Hitchens, a commentator and author born in Portsmouth, England, changed the face of modern U.S. discourse. "Life in Britain has seemed like one long antechamber to a room that had too many barriers to entry," he writes in Hitch 22, describing his 1981 journey across the Atlantic. He became a U.S. citizen 26 years later. A columnist who's written for the Atlantic, Vanity Fair and Slate, Hitchens once said he believes the U.S. has embraced him because he provides a voice for nonbelievers who are finally finding their own. As a political observer, polemicist and left-wing radical, Hitchens has made a lasting contribution with his challenge of religion: he once argued that "the idea of God is a dictatorial one" and recently compared God to "a kind of benign Korea."