Alfred Kazin, America's grand old man of letters, died of cancer at his Manhattan home Friday, his 83rd birthday. A critic, historian and memoirist, Mr. Kazin vaulted into prominence in VTC 1942 with "On Native Grounds," a groundbreaking interpretation American literature from 1890 to 1940.
Though slowed in his last years by various ailments, Mr. Kazin continued to write. His book reviews appeared regularly in the New York Review of Books, New Republic and New York Times Book Review. His final book, "God and the American Writer," had just been published, and he was working on an assessment of Jewry tentatively titled "Jews: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell."
Lucien E. Conein, 79, one of the last great Cold War spies whose swashbuckling tales of war and death form an enduring legend at the CIA, died Wednesday of heart failure in Bethesda.
He ran agents behind the Iron Curtain in the early 1950s, and was the CIA's contact with friendly generals in Vietnam as the war took shape there. He was also the man through whom the United States gave the generals tacit approval as they planned the assassination of the South Vietnamese president in November 1963.
The chief of covert operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration in the 1970s, he was recruited by the Watergate burglars, turned them down and later boasted, "If I'd been involved, we would have done it right."
Pub Date: 6/07/98