Journalist Richard Ben Cramer Dies of Cancer

Pulitzer Prize Winner Chronicled 1988 Presidential Race

By Reuters

Published January 08, 2013.
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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.


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