As someone who covered his first presidential campaign in 1956, Mr. Johnson had a knack for predicting political and social trends long before they occurred. His 1994 book “Divided We Fall” warned against an impending social chaos as the nation drifted into feuding camps of political true believers.
In “The System” (1996), Mr. Johnson and Broder wrote about how the Clinton administration’s plan for universal health-care coverage went off the rails and landed in the ditch of political squabbling and overreach.
As the nation rode the high-tech bubble into the 21st century, Mr. Johnson was among the first to analyze the fragile success of the 1990s. In “The Best of Times: America in the Clinton Years” (2001), he portrayed a nation enthralled with itself, believing that the stock market would never fall, that housing prices would always rise and that the country was in a period of everlasting post-Cold War peace.
In reviewing the book for the Boston Globe, journalist and longtime Washington observer David Gergen wrote, “Johnson is among the most brilliant chroniclers of our times.”
Haynes Bonner Johnson was born July 9, 1931, in New York City. His father, Malcolm Johnson, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1949 for a series of stories in the New York Sun about organized crime on the docks of New York. His work was the basis for the film “On the Waterfront.”
In 2005, Mr. Johnson collected his father’s articles and published them as a book. The two Johnsons were the first father and son to win the Pulitzer Prize for reporting.
Haynes Johnson graduated from the University of Missouri journalism school in 1952, then served as Army artillery officer in the Korean War. He received a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin in 1956.
He worked for the News-Journal in Wilmington, Del., before joining the Washington Star in 1957. Beginning in the 1970s, he built a second career as a teacher, first at Princeton University and briefly at George Washington University.
After retiring from The Post in 1994, Mr. Johnson had an endowed Knight Foundation chair in journalism at the University of Maryland, where he was a popular professor. He attended Monday’s commencement ceremony in College Park. Next month, he was scheduled to be inducted into the Washington chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hall of fame.
Mr. Johnson’s first marriage, to the former Julie Erwin, ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife of 10 years, Kathryn A. Oberly, a judge on the D.C. Court of Appeals, of Washington; five children from his first marriage, Katherine Autin of Louisville, David M. Johnson of Altadena, Calif., Stephen H. Johnson of New Orleans, Sarah Johnson of Nyack, N.Y., and Elizabeth Koeller of Dayton, Ohio; a stepson, Michael Goelzer of Santa Clara, Calif.; a sister; two brothers; and six grandchildren.
Mr. Johnson’s final book, “The Battle for America 2008,” written in 2009 with Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, examined President Obama’s victory and the changing face of the nation’s electorate.
“Without being overly dramatic, Haynes had a swashbuckling quality,” Balz said Friday. “Haynes had a capacity to write with great sweep and he was drawn to big events. He was the master at evoking the mood of America in every decade.”
Even as he became well known as a commentator on television panel shows late in his career, Mr. Johnson thought of himself as a reporter first. He was always unflappable, even while covering riots in American cities during the 1960s. As he calmly dictated his stories from a pay telephone, one colleague recalled, gunfire could be heard in the background.