News

Books

Legendary Journalist and Novelist Tom Wolfe Dead at 88

Tom Wolfe at the William F. Buckley Prize Dinner. (Courtesy of National Review Institute )

Renowned journalist, essayist, and novelist Tom Wolfe passed away on Monday at the age of 88, his agent Lynn Nesbit has confirmed to the Associated Press. He had recently been hospitalized with an infection.

Wolfe was known for the colorful prose and explosive punctuation he used to document everything from space exploration to the hippie counter-culture. He pioneered “new journalism,” becoming one of the first reporters to incorporate literary techniques into his work, and “saturation reporting,” in which a reporter embeds with and shadows his subject.

“To pull it off, you casually have to stay with the people you are writing about for long stretches … long enough so that you are actually there when revealing scenes take place in their lives,” Wolfe said of his reporting style.

In The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, he chronicled the blossoming psychedelic counter-culture of the 1960s, following Ken Kesey and his Merry Pranksters as they spread the gospel of LSD on their cross-country travels in a repurposed school bus. In The Right Stuff, he told the stories of the “Mercury Seven,” the first astronauts assigned to the NASA space program, as well as Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager, whom many considered a superior flyer despite the fact that he was passed over by NASA. And in his novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, he satirized the lust for power and wealth in 1980s New York.

“He is probably the most skillful writer in America — I mean by that he can do more things with words than anyone else,” William F. Buckley, Jr., once wrote of Wolfe in National Review.

Wolfe, who had lived in Manhattan since 1962, is survived by Sheila Wolfe, his wife of 48 years, and their two children, Alexandra and Tommy.

Most Popular

Law & the Courts

The Second(-Class) Amendment

Editor’s Note: The following is the fourth in a series of articles in which Mr. Yoo and Mr. Phillips will lay out a course of constitutional restoration, pointing out areas where the Supreme Court has driven the Constitution off its rails and the ways the current Court can put it back on track. The first entry ... Read More
World

The Brexit Crisis

After what seem like years of a phony war, British and European Union negotiators finally agreed on the terms of Britain’s departure from the EU earlier this week, and Theresa May announced it in the House of Commons. The deal covers more than 500 pages of legal and bureaucratic prose, and few but the ... Read More
U.S.

Friends of Elmer

Do you know what scares an American outdoorsman more than a grizzly bear? Twitter. In the late summer and early autumn, the hunting world had its eyes on the courts: The Trump administration had issued new guidance that would permit the hunting of brown bears (popularly known as grizzly bears), including in ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Basta La Vista, Baby

Dear Reader (And especially Martha McSally’s dog), As I often note, I increasingly tend to see the political scene as a scripted reality show in which the writers don’t flesh out the dialogue so much as move characters into weird, wacky, confrontational, or embarrassing positions. It’s a lot like The ... Read More