Harry F. Rosenthal, 86, an Associated Press writer who covered America's golden age of space exploration, presidents back to Harry Truman, and whatever caught his impish eye in the stuffy halls of power, died Thursday at home in Kansas City, Mo., his daughter, Lesli Mulligan, said.

From the start, Mr. Rosenthal was more than a top-tier wire-service newsman, fast and accurate. He was a wordsmith. He sweated the details, then turned those details into irresistible prose.

Mr. Rosenthal strolled with Truman in Independence, Mo., as the retired president reflected on his decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan at the end of World War II. He covered Dwight Eisenhower back home in Kansas, Richard Nixon in his downfall and death, and presidents through to Bill Clinton before he retired from the AP in 1997. - AP