He died of liver failure, having suffered from health problems throughout adulthood, as a result of AIDS, according to Michael Wolff in his book The Man Who Owns The News: Inside The Secret World Of Rupert Murdoch.
Breindel grew up in an upper-middle class Jewish family in New York. His parents were refugees of Hitler's Europe, which likely influenced his views on totalitarian government and fueled his outspoken hatred of communism.
He attended Phillips Exeter, Harvard College, and Harvard Law School. At Harvard, he developed relationships with high-profile professors as well as David and Bobby Kennedy.
Early in his career, Breindel pursued work in government, as his classmates at Harvard had expected him to. At the age of 27, he went to work as Senator Moynihan's aide on the Senate Intelligence Committee. However, shortly into the job, he was arrested for buying heroin from an undercover police officer in Washington, D.C., ending any hope of a career in government or politics.
While he was still serving out his year's probation, he wrote for The New Republic and then took a research position on the PBS show American Interests. During this time, he started a relationship with Tamar Jacoby, the deputy editor of the New York Times' op-ed section. With her help and several recommendations, including one from Podhoretz, he landed a job heading the editorial page of the New York Daily News.
Breindel began working at the Post's editorial page in 1986, where he immediately began making friends and enemies. He played a pivotal role in New York's 1994 mayoral race. He was the key to securing Rudy Giuliani's endorsement by the New York Post, despite Rupert Murdoch's initial intent to support the Conservative Party candidate George Marlin. The endorsement and subsequent editorials proved crucial in a race which came down to a handful of votes.
Breindel died at the age of 42. His funeral was attended by such notable figures as New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, Governor George Pataki, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Senator Al D'Amato, Rupert Murdoch, Henry Kissinger, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Norman Podhoretz, John Podhoretz, and Martin Peretz.
In 1999, the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism was established in his memory, sponsored by Fox News, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal.
- The Connection Man, by Craig Horowitz, 22 March 1999, New York Magazine,
- Horowitz, Craig (22 March 1999). "The Connection Man". New York Magazine. Retrieved 21 July 2011.
- Buckley, William F. (1998). "The Week". National Review (6 April 1998): 18, 20.
- "Neocon saint Eric Breindel died of AIDS, reports Michael Wolff". Retrieved 6 April 2012.
- Bruce Handy, When Bad Things Happen to Ambitious People, Spy, June 1988, p. 49. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
- Eric Breindel website
- Eric Breindel Papers at the American Jewish Historical Society, New York, NY and Boston, MA