Daniel Rapoport, a Washington journalist, author and publisher who in 1983 founded Farragut Publishing to produce non-blockbuster and out-of-the-ordinary books ranging from pasta salad and cold soup cookbooks to a history of U.S. presidents’ connections with baseball, died April 11 at his home in East Chatham, N.Y. He was 79.
He died of leukemia, said his wife, Maxine Rapoport.
Mr. Rapoport covered the House of Representatives for United Press International in the 1960s and early 1970s. Later he spent a year at Harvard on a Nieman Fellowship and, as an active freelancer, wrote for publications including the National Journal, Congressional Quarterly and Washingtonian.
At Farragut Publishing, Mr. Rapoport’s idea was to publish nonfiction books that might not otherwise find a publisher. The company’s first big success was “The Pasta Salad Book” (1984) by his wife and Nina Graybill. The book sold 100,000 copies nationally.
Early in his career as a publisher, Mr. Rapoport was told that bookstores are difficult places to sell books because of the competition. He sold most of his cookbooks in kitchenware stores.
Several other cookbooks followed, including one on hearty salads and one on cold soups, the first purchaser of which was the University of Alaska, according to Maxine Rapoport.
Before its closing in 2007, Farragut Publishing had published more than 20 nonfiction books. “Baseball: The Presidents’ Game” (1993), by William B. Mead and Paul Dickson, explored connections between U.S. presidents and baseball, beginning with George Washington, who as an Army general played catch with troops at Valley Forge.
Another Farragut title was “Grand Allusions: A Lively Guide to Those Terms, Expressions and References You Ought to Know but Might Not” (1990), by Elizabeth Webber and Mike Feinsilber.
Daniel Rapoport was born in New York on Jan. 19, 1933. He graduated from the University of Illinois in 1954 and served in the Navy before moving to Washington and beginning his journalism career with UPI in 1959.
He was author of a book, “Inside the House: An Irreverent Guided Tour Through the House of Representatives, from the Days of Adam Clayton Powell to Those of Peter Rodino,” printed in 1975 by Follett Publishing.
The book “examined the House of Representatives and found it wanting,” Mr. Rapoport wrote in Washingtonian magazine.
“I concluded that most of the ills of Congress could be attributed to what I called ‘legislative careerism,’ ” he wrote. “I suggested the best way to rid the House of this disease was to pass a constitutional amendment limiting the service of members to eight years. . . . Clearly, I had hit upon an idea whose time had not yet come. . . . During the 12 years I had covered the House as a reporter I saw too many members atrophy as they waited for power.”
Mr. Rapoport was one of the founders of Washington Independent Writers, whose activities included holding a contest for best first sentence of a Washington novel. One winning entry: “ ‘Vote to lower the capital gains tax or every cherry tree around the Tidal Basin will die,’ the terrorist warned,” submitted by Carolyn Mulford.
A former Washington resident, Mr. Rapoport moved to East Chatham in Upstate New York after closing the publishing business. Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Maxine Barczak Rapoport of East Chatham; three children, Victoria Rapoport of Vienna and Andrew Rapoport and Adam Rapoport, both of New York; and one grandson.