News & Opinion | June 22, 2018 9:35 am

Remembering Pulitzer-Prize Winning Columnist Charles Krauthammer

The iconic conservative commentator, paralyzed while a student at Harvard, died at 68.

Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer, senior editor at the New Republic on June 6, 1984 in Washington, DC. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
The Washington Post/Getty Images

Charles Krauthammer, the Harvard-trained psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, has died. He was 68.

When Krauthammer was a 22-year-old student at Harvard Medical School, he was swimming in a pool. Someone pushed the diving board out so it extended further over a shallower part of the pool. Krauthammer didn’t know this, and when he dove in, he broke his neck. He said that he immediately knew what had happened, and that he knew what it meant that he couldn’t move. The Washington Post writes that he left two books at the pool that day. One was a text on the spinal cord. The other was André Malraux’s novel, Man’s Fate. 

Krauthammer was paralyzed from the neck down but he nonetheless completed medical school and a subsequent internship. But rather than continue a career in medicine, he went on to become one of America’s foremost public intellectuals. He started writing speeches for the Democratic vice-presidential candidate, Walter Mondale. Krauthammer “drew on reserves of energy and willpower to overcome a multitude of daily challenges, any one of which would cause most people to curl up in a fetal position,” the Post writes. As his career progressed, he took up the conservative cause and later became a vocal supporter of the U.S. invasion and war in Iraq.

You can watch a video profiling Krauthammer’s life below.