January 8, 2013

Richard Ben Cramer : The author of "What It Takes" died Monday (Ben Smith,  Jan 7, 2013, BuzzFeed)

The writer Richard Ben Cramer, who died Monday at the age of 62 at Johns Hopkins, wrote one of the very few enduring books about presidential politics, "What It Takes." Published in during the 1992 campaign, far too late, it sank like a stone (in his recollection at least), only to rise slowly until it became a model and a talisman for a new generation of political writers.

Richard was a character as large as the politicians and ballplayers he wrote about; or at least, as large as he made those men, some of them superficially fairly dull, seem -- once he had climbed into their heads and learned to speak their voices. He had a beard and a gravely voice and wore absurd, baggy gardening pants; he lived in a big house on Maryland's Eastern Shore that Joe Biden had helped him select. Richard cared far more about the people he wrote about than about party or policy. In fact, he unabashedly loved many of the people he wrote about, perhaps because he had worked so hard to understand them: The crooked Maryland politicians he came up with; the misunderstood Ted Williams, whose secret kindness he exposed in an Esquire piece you should read tonight; Bob Dole!; and George W. Bush, who had been a great source of his on the 1988 campaign. Richard and W. discussed a book that would have had the writer sitting in the West Wing through the year 2001, a vetoed project that must be the best unwritten book in the history of American politics.

Richard wanted to understand things above all.


What Do You Think of Ted Williams Now? : Regarded as perhaps the finest piece of sportswriting on record, the furious saga of Teddy Ballgame -- from boy to man and near death -- is an unmatchable remembrance for an American icon. (Richard Ben Cramer, Esquire)
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Posted by at January 8, 2013 5:35 AM

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