Author Joe McGinniss, who wrote a landmark 1968 book on modern political advertising and chronicled the 1970s case of convicted Army doctor and killer Jeffrey MacDonald in "Fatal Vision," has died at age 71.
His death, of complications related to prostate cancer, was disclosed by his attorney and long-time friend Dennis Holahan, the Associated Press reported.
McGinniss skewered modern political advertising with the book "The Selling of the President 1968,'' which provided the first detailed look at the then-new techniques of television advertising that were used to market Richard Nixon to the voting public that year.
He later was hired by MacDonald, a former Green Beret and emergency room physician based at Fort Bragg, N.C., to write a story about his case – accused of killing his wife and young children in a home invasion attack he claimed was by drug-crazed hippies.
McGinniss later wrote a book that concluded that MacDonald had committed the crimes, likely strung out on prescription pills.
McGinniss had continued to write books and maintained an online presence on his blog, website and Twitter. His last Twitter commend was last July.
On his website, he had posted news of his latest book, "15 Gothic Street: A Year in a Hampshire County Superior Court,'' in which he says he set out to tell the stories that can be found every day in a small American courthouse.
McGinniss published 12 books in a variety of genres.
Two years ago he published "The Rogue: Searching for the Real Sarah Palin,'' after renting a home near the former Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska governor's home in Wasilla, Alaska. He had written a book about the young state 30 years earlier.
In a biography on his own website, McGinnis was described as "drawn to scrutinize the mysterious space between image and reality in his subjects: how that space is created, negotiated and/or manipulated.''
His website describes the Palin book as "an extraordinary double narrative that alternately traces Palin's curious rise to political prominence and worldwide celebrity status and then recounts the author's day-to-day experiences as he uncovers the messy reality beneath the glossy Palin myth.''