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Monday, January 7, 2013

Richard Ben Cramer Dies at 62

Was rumor via Twitter  but Politico just posted first obit.  Here's Buzzfeed's. And now NYT is here.

I only met him once when we were both on author's tours behind campaign books (I was pushing Campaign of the Century) about 20 years ago.  Besides his political writing, loved his famous article on one of my boyhood heroes, Teddy Ballgame Williams.  Then there was his report on Bobby Sands' funeral.  And recent book on how Israel's occupations corrupt its essence.  He was in the news just last month--for not delivering an Alex Rodriquez bio.  Now we know why.   Lot of tributes on Twitter, and here's one at The Atlantic from James Fallows.
I am shocked by the news just now that Richard Ben Cramer has died at age 62, of lung cancer. His book What It Takes is the first book I tell anyone interested in American politics, American culture, and American journalism to read. It is timeless but also timely, since its cast of characters -- those competing for the presidency in 1988 -- includes our current vice president, Joe Biden.

I never met Richard Ben Cramer but felt as if I knew him from his writing. Sympathies to his family. His work will last.


Joel Shurkin said...

I was on the foreign desk of the Philadelphia Inquirer when Richard Ben covered the Lebanon invasion from an Israeli taxi. You could tell how good the story he was going to send by how much he badmouthed it before it got to Philadelphia. If he said he hated it, we cleared the front page.

tim weiner said...

Many great Richard Ben Cramer stories in the offing. Thirty-five years ago Cramer goes on his long and open-ended first tour as a foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer in the Middle East. (Jim Naughton had to fake a $15,000 capital expense item to cover Cramer's bills). Anyway Richard is wandering in the Gaza and falls upon a Bedouin. Said Bedouin starts to tell the story of his life. Bedouin wails, argues with God, falls on his knees, draws pix in the sand, goes on for 15 minutes. Richard turns to his newly hired translator and says: "Wha'd he say?" Translator looks back blankly. "He says he is very sad." Richard was masterful at filling in the blanks. Great guy, wonderful reporter, chain-smoked a shit-load of Camels, and more's the pity....