Peter Braestrup, senior editor and director of communications for the Library of Congress since 1989, died Aug. 10 of a heart attack. He was 68 and was vacationing in Maine; he died at Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.
Mr. Braestrup's major responsibilities and accomplishments at the Library included founding the Library's magazine, Civilization, published by Capital Publishing L.P.; instituting the Library's staff newspaper, The Gazette; and overseeing the Public Affairs Office.
"Peter was not only a dear friend, but also an astute and important adviser to me and others in the Library," said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. "He played a major role in the Library's outreach efforts. His wide range of experiences and journalistic integrity made him an effective leader of the Library's Office of Communications. We will all miss him."
Mr. Braestrup was born in Manhattan in 1929, the son of Danish immigrants. His father, Carl Bjorn Braestrup, worked on the Manhattan Project and was one of the first scientists to warn of the dangers of exposure to radiation.
Mr. Braestrup attended Yale University and graduated with a degree in English literature in 1951. From 1951 until 1953, when he was wounded in the line of duty in Korea, he served in the U.S. Marine Corps, and rose to the rank of 2nd lieutenant. His military service would later serve him well, as he became known as an authority on how the media report on the military.
In 1953-57 he worked at Time magazine covering politics, labor, farming, civil rights and national affairs. Mr. Braestrup then went to the New York Herald-Tribune, where he was an investigative reporter from 1957 to 1959.
In 1959-60, he was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. His next assignment was for The New York Times, where he worked in the Washington bureau covering Congress and the Pentagon; he was also a correspondent for the newspaper in Algiers, Paris and Southeast Asia. In 1968-73, Mr. Braestrup was Saigon bureau chief for The Washington Post and also covered national news.
Leaving daily journalism in 1973, he worked at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, where he founded The Wilson Quarterly, a general-interest magazine. In 1977, he completed his two-volume work about media misrepresentations in reporting the Vietnam War, called Big Story: How the U.S. Press and Television Reported and Analyzed the Tet Crisis of 1968 (Westview Press, 1977; Yale Press 1983).
He left the Wilson Center in 1989 to work at the Library, where he was known for his gruff amiability, quick wit and sharp editorial skills.
Mr. Braestrup is survived by his wife, Sandra Newing; his mother, Elsebet Braestrup of Hamden, Conn.; two daughters, Angelica Cunningham of Washington and Elizabeth Kate Braestrup of Thomaston, Maine; a son, Carl P. of San Francisco; two stepdaughters, Martha Meyers of Los Angeles and Linda Engleby of Washington; two stepsons, Stuart Nash of London and David Nash of St. Paul, Minn.; seven grandchildren; and eight stepgrandchildren.