Richard Reeves, a journalist and author who explored the presidency, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World II, the role of the media and other aspects of American history in muscular, passionate and occasionally acerbic prose, died on Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 83.
His son, Jeffrey, said the cause was cardiac arrest. Mr. Reeves had been treated for cancer.
Mr. Reeves, who was a lecturer at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California, wrote more than a dozen books and, from 1979 to 2014, a syndicated column that appeared in more than 100 newspapers. He was also a familiar face on public affairs programs on PBS.
As an author, Mr. Reeves was in particular an insightful and unsparing student of the American presidency, producing well-received portraits of John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
His most recent book, “Infamy: The Shocking Story of the Japanese American Internment in World War II,” was published in 2015. In the book, Mr. Reeves accused two Army officers stationed on the West Coast, Lt. Gen. John DeWitt and Col. Karl Bendetsen — “both bigots, the former a fool, the latter a brilliant pathological liar” — of wildly exaggerating dangers posed by Japanese-Americans there.
Another villain, in his view, was Earl Warren, California’s attorney general (and later the chief justice of the United States), who was elected governor of the state in 1942 on a wave of anti-Japanese prejudice. Mr. Reeves also had harsh words for the press, accusing it of being