Journalist Richard Ben Cramer Dies of Cancer

Pulitzer Prize Winner Chronicled 1988 Presidential Race

By Reuters

Published January 08, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Pulitzer-Prize winning correspondent and author Richard Ben Cramer, best known for his chronicle of the 1988 U.S. presidential election, died on Monday in Baltimore.

The cause of death was lung cancer, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, where Cramer worked for seven years. He was 62.

Cramer won the 1979 Pulitzer Prize in international reporting for his coverage of Middle Eastern affairs for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Esquire named his 1986 profile of Boston Red Sox slugger Ted Williams one of the seven greatest stories published in the magazine’s history.

“What It Takes: The Way to the White House,” Cramer’s 1,000-page account of the 1988 presidential campaign, painted a rich portrait of American political luminaries such as former U.S. President George H. W. Bush, former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis, former Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole and current U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Though it received tepid reviews at the time of its 1992 publication, it was ultimately hailed as one of the best books of political journalism. New York University’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute named “What It Takes” one of the top 100 works of U.S. journalism in the 20th century.

Cramer’s prolific writing career included stints at the Inquirer and Baltimore Sun newspapers, contributions to magazines like Esquire and Sports Illustrated, and multiple books on topics as diverse as the Israel-Palestine conflict and the life of New York Yankees legend Joe DiMaggio.

A native of Rochester, New York, Cramer earned degrees from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. At the time of his death, he was living in Chestertown, Maryland in an old white farmhouse that he picked out with the help of Biden, Politico reported in 2010.

Cramer had been working on a book about New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez, tentatively titled “The Importance of Being Alex: A Life with the Yankees,” before taking a hiatus in 2012, the New York Daily News reported in June.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.