Tony Horwitz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist whose work challenged labor practices and the cultural divides between the Northern and Southern United States, died on Monday. He was 60 years old.
Horwitz’s wife, the Pulitzer-winning novelist Geraldine Brooks, told The New York Times that Hrowitz collapsed while walking in the Washington D.C. suburb of Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was later pronounced dead at George Washington University Hospital. The cause of death is still to be determined.
In 1995, Horwitz, then on staff at The Wall Street Journal, won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting for his immersive coverage of the sordid working conditions at garbage recycling and poultry processing plants. Horwitz had a longstanding interest in labor rights. After completing his master’s at Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, he worked as a labor organizer in Mississippi before moving on to newspaper reporting.
Throughout the 1980s, Horwitz worked for a number of news outlets. He covered education for The Fort Wayne News-Sentinel in Indiana before moving to Australia to work for The Sydney Morning Herald. Upon joining The Wall Street Journal in 1990, he continued to travel internationally as a foreign correspondent in Europe and the Middle East, reporting with Brooks on the Persian Gulf War in 1990. He and Brooks were recognized with an Overseas Press Club’s Hal Boyle Award for their work.
Scholars and journalistic colleagues took to Twitter to remember Horwitz.
Tony Horwitz’s passing is a huge loss for all of us who have tried to better understand the ways Americans continue to grapple with the legacy of the American Civil War.— Kevin M. Levin (@KevinLevin) May 28, 2019
Heartbreaking news: a wonderful friend and colleague the Author, Historian Tony Horwitz Dies https://t.co/wngRJYYSPr— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) May 28, 2019
Tony Horwitz was a legend to all of us here. The Pulitzer, of course, but also countless smaller gems. Like this one: pic.twitter.com/xoshnfUoDD— Charles Forelle (@charlesforelle) May 28, 2019
After winning the Pulitzer, Horwitz went on to cover the Middle East for the New Yorker and publish a number of best-selling books, including “Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches From the Unfinished Civil War” (1998), informed by his time spent embedded in the subculture of Civil War re-enactors.
Horwitz returned to the Civil War in his 2011 book “Midnight Rising: John Brown and the Raid That Sparked the Civil War.”
Horwitz was in Maryland for a May 28 reading from his latest work, “Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide,” at the D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. Published this month, the book tracks the reportage of Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed landscaper behind Central Park, who wrote dispatches from slave-holding states for The New York Times in the antebellum period. A Yankee, Olmstead sought to find ideological overlaps with his Southern neighbors, as did Horwitz in writing the book.
“Wandering into red-state Southern bars with a reporter’s notebook, to quiz drinkers about race or guns or immigration, isn’t always a walk in an Olmsted-designed park,” Horwitz wrote in The Times. His travels for the book, he wrote, were often memorable; once, a biker ate his notes. “But I can count such hostile receptions on one hand,” he wrote. “In almost every other instance, I’ve been met affably, by drinkers open about their views and curious to know mine.”
Horwitz was born Anthony Lander Horwitz on June 9, 1958 in Washington, D.C., the son of neurosurgeon Norman Horwitz and the writer Elinor Horwitz, née Lander. At the time of his death, Horwitz lived in Martha’s Vineyard with Brooks and their two sons, Nathaniel and Bizu. He is also survived by his mother, brother and sister.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture intern. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.