Kraft began his career in journalism at the age of 14 where he worked as a stringer covering high school sports for the New York World-Telegram. Kraft worked for the Los Angeles Times and Los Angeles Syndicate since July 1980 where he covered foreign affairs and national security. After working at the Washington Post and the New York Times in the 1950s, he became a speechwriter for 1960 Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy. His work landed him on the master list of Nixon political opponents. He served as one of three panelists for the third and final debate, held at Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall at the College of William & Mary, in the 1976 Presidential Election. Kraft was viewed as one of America's foremost analysts of domestic and international affairs. His syndicated column ran in over 200 papers.
Kraft was a graduate of Columbia University. He also attended the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and the Sorbonne.
Kraft died on January 10, 1986 at Washington Hospital Center at the age of 61. The cause of death was from heart failure. Kraft had a history of heart problems.
Kraft was the author of four books:
- The Struggle for Algeria (1961)
- The Grand Design (1962)
- Profiles in Power (1966)
- The Chinese Difference (1973)
- McFadden, Robert D. (January 11, 1986). Joseph Kraft, Capital Columnist Whose Work Ran in 200 Papers. New York Times
- Rosenblatt, Roger (Jan. 27, 1986). The Death of a Columnist. Time magazine
- Staff report (February 3, 1986). Joseph Kraft, 1924-1986. (obituary). The New Republic
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