John Newhouse, 87, a widely admired journalist and author who turned often-impenetrable technical subjects such as nuclear arms negotiations and Cold War politics into dramatic and absorbing narratives, died Saturday at his home in Washington.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said his wife, Elizabeth "Symmie" Newhouse.

Mr. Newhouse wrote nine books, plus 55 major articles for the New Yorker magazine. He had a second, if intermittent, career as a government official with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, and the State Department.

His eclectic career took him around the world but always brought him back to his adopted home town of Washington, where he witnessed and wrote about 11 presidencies from the 1950s onward and many of the defining events of his time.

He developed a specialty in the politics and strategies behind nuclear weapons, a topic to which he brought an uncommon elegance in books such as War and Peace in the Nuclear Age (1989), a masterful companion volume to a 13-part PBS series. - Washington Post