May 23, 2004 by

Bernard Lefkowitz


Categories: Education, Media, Writers/Editors

blefkowitz.jpgBernard Lefkowitz, an investigative journalist and author, died on May 21 of cancer. He was 66.

A native New Yorker, Lefkowitz worked as a reporter and assistant city editor at the New York Post during the 1960s. He served in the Peace Corps, then returned to Manhattan and became a best-selling author.

Over the course of his three-decade publishing career, Lefkowitz researched and wrote four books about contemporary culture. He was best known for the 1997 true crime book, “Our Guys: The Glen Ridge Rape and the Secret Life of the Perfect Suburb,” which explored the 1989 gang rape of a mentally disabled girl by popular high school jocks living in an affluent New Jersey suburb. An Edgar Award finalist, the harrowing story focused on the way the townspeople rallied around the perpetrators and disparaged the victim.

“These boys were regarded as something special, as athletes often are in our culture. As long as they performed on the athletic field, they were spared the judgment and opprobrium of adults. Character was separated from achievement,” Lefkowitz once said. “Our Guys” was adapted into a 1999 TV movie starring Ally Sheedy and Eric Stoltz.

When he wasn’t writing books or articles for publications such as Esquire, The Los Angeles Times and Sports Illustrated, Lefkowitz taught writing classes at Columbia University.

Read an Excerpt From “Our Guys”

9 Responses to Bernard Lefkowitz

  1. Abigail Johnston

    I was married to Bernie back in the 1960s, and though we divorced in 1974, we remained good friends. Just a few weeks before his death, we talked on the phone about a memoir he was hoping to write. He had the title–“The Day I Lost James Thurber” — and plenty of memories, he just didn’t have the time. Sigh.
    He did not, by the way, “serve in the Peace Corps.” He was an evaluator of Peace Corps projects all over the world. It was a grueling but exhilarating two-year experience for him, that I believe led to his being able to successfully combine a reporter’s “just the facts ma’am” objectivity with a “there but the grace of god go I” subjectivity to the books he went on to write.
    He was a mensch.
    Abigail Johnston

  2. barbara Cavanaugh

    I knew Bernard through the 70s. He had an apt. on Grove Street. He visited Shanghai back then and I still have postcards and letters he wrote me. I’ll always cherish an ivory fan he brought me. He spoke about the perfume of life. I hope he is at peace.

  3. jim clawson

    I was a student of his in a Journalism class at CCNY
    about 1973 (?). He was very supportive of students and their struggles. He was an unforgettable teacher
    – he loved what he was doing at the time and he was able to communicate this energy to his students.
    I later ran into him during one of the “Marches on Washington” to protest the Viet Nam war. I was not surprised to see him there because he seemed to be engaged and focused with issues always. I wish I knew him better.

  4. Lenore Bouras

    A few weeks ago I was doing my usual weekly volunteer book sorting duties at Carlsad Public Library, Carlsbad, CA and chanced upon Our Guys in one of the numerous donation boxes. I’m a true crime fan, so I put it aside for myself. What a great book! I couldn’t stop reading it, all 516 pages.I rarely do so but decided to go online, see if he had a web site, etc. to let him know how much the book impressed me. How sorry I was to read he died over two years ago at such an early age. A belated goodbye, Mr. Lefkowitz..your book is going back into the library donation box, so others can enjoy it.

  5. James Litvany

    Bernard was not a mensch. He was a liberal slanderer who deserved what he got.
    His book Our guys was definitely fiction and very subjective.
    It’s too bad his whole life revolved around the action of other instead of his own.

  6. Jan Kotlowski

    Bernard Lefkowitz was a phenomenal investigative writer. I could only guess that if someone had something negative to incorporate into a tribute it is only because Bernard gave him something close to what he deserved. Which, in turn makes sense being that he is from Northern NJ. Good for you Bernie!

  7. Vicki Weber

    I was a 16 year old run away from Milwaukee in the 60’s and Bernard took me in for a few days to be safe until I found my contack in New York City. He was a kind gentleman. I am for ever greatful to him as I could of gotten into a wrong group and into trouble.I have thought of his kindness many times and what would of happened to me back then if he didn’t have the kind heart to have helped me . I am saddened that I did not write him sooner I tried 20 years ago but the publisher sent me back my letter and I gave up until now. May angels always be at your side Bernard as you were my life angel to me when I was 16

  8. Frank Worthington

    Mr James (Tucker) Litvany was apparently a member of the Glen Ridge football team and part of the clique of jocks who perpetrated the gang rape. He is mentioned in Mr Lefkowitz’s book as having been present at the scene of the crime when it went down- an unindicted co-conspiritor, as it were.

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