Harold Evans
Harold Evans. Reuters

Sir Harold Evans, a British-American editor whose 70-year career as a hard-driving investigative journalist, magazine founder, book publisher and author made him one of the most influential media figures of his generation, died on Wednesday at the age of 92.

Evans died of congestive heart failure in New York, according to his wife Tina Brown. A former editor of Britain's Sunday Times and, at his death, Reuters editor-at-large, Evans put a unique stamp on investigative journalism. Championing causes either overlooked or denied, he and his team uncovered human rights abuses and political scandals, and advocated for clean air policies.

One of his most famous investigations exposed the plight of hundreds of British thalidomide children who had never received any compensation for their birth defects. Evans organized a campaign to take on the drug companies responsible for manufacturing the drug, an effort that eventually won compensation for the families after more than a decade.

'All I tried to do - all I hoped to do - was to shed a little light'

"All I tried to do - all I hoped to do - was to shed a little light," Evans said in an interview with the Independent in 2014. "And if that light grew weeds, we'd have to try and pull them up."

After 14 years at the Sunday Times, Evans became editor of the Times of London shortly after media mogul Rupert Murdoch purchased the paper in 1981. Evans left a year later in a dispute with Murdoch over editorial independence.

A few years later, Evans moved to the United States with Brown, the journalist and editor to whom he was married for nearly 40 years. He continued his career as an author, publisher and university lecturer. He penned several books, including "The American Century" (1998) and its sequel "They Made America" (2004), as well as an ode to good writing called "Do I Make Myself Clear?" (2017).

He became the subject of books and documentaries, including "Attacking The Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime" (2014), about the thalidomide campaign. Evans founded Conde Nast Traveler magazine and served as president and publisher of Random House from 1990 to 1997.