James Reston Jr., journalist, author and former co-owner of the Vineyard Gazette died of pancreatic cancer on Wednesday, July 19 at his home in Chevy Chase. Md. He was 82.

The author of more than 20 books, numerous plays and radio plays, Mr. Reston often took unique stances on notable people and world events.

“It was the confluence of issues and what a person’s life stood for that made him intrigued,” his wife Denise Leary said. “His point of view was key to his going after a subject.”

Subjects ranged from Watergate, the Kennedy assassination, 911, the Civil War, Galileo, the Crusades, baseball and the Jonestown Massacre.

“I believe that was his hardest book,” Ms. Leary said of the research and writing about Jim Jones, head of the Peoples Temple cult. “You cannot spend that many months with pure evil without being affected by it.”

But it was the Vietnam War which he returned to most often, and was the inspiration for his first two books, When Can I Come Home and The Amnesty of John David Herndon.

“He had a get out of jail free card to stay out of the war but he chose to enlist,” Ms. Leary said.

Mr. Reston was born March 8, 1941 in New York City. He grew up in Washington DC, in what his wife described was a privileged atmosphere, attending the prestigious St. Albans School.

His father, James (Scotty) Reston, former owner and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette, had a long career with the New York Times, as a reporter, columnist, Washington bureau chief and executive editor.

But her husband turned his back on that lifestyle, Ms. Leary said, in favor of forging his own path. The two met at an anti-poverty conference.

“He was always so curious and open minded and knew there was a bigger world,” Ms. Leary said.

Mr. Reston went to the University of North Carolina on a Morehead scholarship, graduating in 1963. He became a speechwriter for U.S. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, and for a time he worked as a journalist before turning to write books.

His books on Watergate included Perfectly Clear: Nixon from Whittier to Watergate, Quadrangle, and The Conviction of Richard Nixon: The Untold Story of the Frost/Nixon Interviews. The latter book became the basis for Frost/Nixon, both the play (2006) and movie (2008).

Subsequent books tackled diverse subjects: Pete Rose, Martin Luther, the Moors, Columbus, Lee Harvey Oswald.

“All the characters lived in the attic with us,” Ms. Leary said. “They still do.”

Mr. Reston held many readings on the Vineyard, where the family would return each summer to the house on the corner of School street and Davis Lane in Edgartown, next door to the Gazette. The house was purchased by his parents when they bought the newspaper. James co-owned the Gazette with his brothers Tom and Richard until its sale in 2010.

On the Vineyard, James Reston lived a low-key life, enjoying the literary scene, his wife said, along with trips to Menemsha and the Edgartown Seafood to buy fish for cookouts at home.

He also loved to play tennis, kayak and surf, a skill he picked up when stationed at Pearl Harbor during his military service.

In addition to looking outward to world events and leaders for inspiration, Mr. Reston often turned inward, to his own life, including his most personal book, Fragile Innocence: A Father’s Memoir of His Daughter’s Courageous Journey, about his daughter Hillary, who at 20 months suddenly came down with a life-threating illness.

“No one thought she would survive,” Ms. Leary said. “It turned out to be a spontaneous genetic defect.”

The disease impaired Hillary’s physical and intellectual capabilities, and the family traveled the country seeking the necessary support, including a kidney transplant.

“That book helped so many people, parents going through similar situations,” Ms. Leary said. “He was inspired by William Styron’s Darkness Visible and Kenzaburo Oe’s A Healing Family,” Ms. Leary said.

Ms. Leary said that when people asked her husband what his favorite book was he always said the one he was working on or his body of work.

“It’s like your children,” she said. “He was proud of them all.”

In addition to his wife, Mr. Reston is survived by his brothers, Richard and Tom Reston, his children, Hillary, Maeve and Devin, and two grandchildren, Lila and Miles.

The extended family was at his bedside at his death.

“He had so much love surrounding him at the end,” his son Devin said.