David Binder, 88, Dies; Chronicled the Cold War and Its Aftermath


He also wrote with authority on the East German leader Walter Ulbricht, who was deposed in 1971 and died in 1973, and on Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator, whom he interviewed in 1986 for The New York Times Magazine.

Mr. Binder was transferred to The Times’s Washington bureau as a diplomatic and European affairs correspondent in 1973. He often returned to Europe in the 1980s to report on developments in Soviet bloc nations, and in the 1990s to cover the reunification of Germany; the collapse of Communist regimes in Albania, Romania and Bulgaria; and civil wars in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo.

As Yugoslavia disintegrated in 1991, he was trapped with Croatian forces in a five-day siege of shelling and sniper fire in the Adriatic port of Dubrovnik. “The federal forces’ bombardment is heavier still: cannon, mortars, rockets, wire-guided missiles,” he wrote. “It started just before dawn. Terrific explosions.”

Ralph Blumenthal, a former Times colleague, recalled that Mr. Binder was “a great lover of the Balkans” noting that he had absorbed the region’s history and culture for decades and was deeply affected by the calamity of the wars there. His last book, “Fare Well, Illyria” (2014), was a memoir about Balkan politicians, poets, artists, fishermen, farmers and friends.

David Binder was born in London on Feb. 22, 1931, one of four children of American parents, Abner Carroll and Dorothy Walton Binder. His father was a foreign-news editor and correspondent for The Chicago Daily News. An older brother, Carroll Jr., a navigator in a bomber, was killed in World War II. David, Carroll Jr. and their sisters, Mary and Deborah, who was David’s twin, grew up in Highland Park, Ill. David attended the George School in Bucks County, Pa., and graduated from Harvard in 1953.

After a year as a Fulbright scholar at Cologne University in Germany, he was a reporter for The Louisville Times in Kentucky. He joined The London Daily Mail as a Berlin correspondent in 1959 and was later a copy editor for The Minneapolis Tribune.

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