My friend Karl Meyer, who has died aged 91, was a journalist for the Washington Post and the New York Times from the 1950s until the late 90s.

An adventurous reporter, he covered the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, Fidel Castro’s revolution in Cuba and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion there, about which he wrote a book, The Cuban Invasion: The Chronicle of a Disaster (1962), with a fellow journalist, Tad Szulc.

I first got to know Karl in the 1960s when I was the Observer’s US correspondent and he and his then wife, Sarah Peck, gave wonderful parties in their tiny house in Washington, where I met some of the most interesting figures of the Kennedy administration, including Arthur Schlesinger and John Kenneth Galbraith.

Karl was then writing editorials for the Washington Post, but a few years earlier he had set out on horseback to interview Castro, then a mysterious rebel in the Sierra Maestra, before the Cuban revolution got under way.

Karl was born in Madison, Wisconsin, to Dorothy Narefsky and her husband, Ernest Meyer, who came from a long line of journalists and was editor of the Madison Capital Times. Karl went to Elisabeth Irwin school in New York, studied history at the University of Wisconsin, then completed a doctorate at Princeton University before becoming a reporter at the New York Times in 1952, leaving four years later for the Washington Post, where he was an editorial writer for eight years, London bureau chief for five and New York bureau chief for two. He joined the New York Times editorial board as a senior writer on foreign affairs in 1979 and retired in 1998.

Afterwards he travelled the world with his third wife, Shareen Brysac, a dancer, television journalist and writer whom he married in 1989. They spent time living in Oxford and in Berlin, and wrote five books together, including Tournament of Shadows: The Race for Empire in Central Asia (1999), which drew on material they had gathered on a journey through the Khyber Pass.

His first two marriages, to Iris Hill and Sarah, ended in divorce. He is survived by Shareen, three children from his second marriage, Ernest, Heather and Jonathan, three granddaughters and his sister Susan.

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