Widely regarded as one of the best Page One editors in the history of The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Stewart was considered a shoo-in to some day become the newspaper's managing editor.
He had built a strong reputation in his four years as Page One editor and as a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Journal.
His ascendancy seemed even more certain in 1991, when he wrote the best-selling "Den of Thieves" about junk bond king Michael Milken.
So Mr. Stewart stunned colleagues when he abruptly left the Journal in 1992 to write books and do other things. He wound up as editor at large of then-new SmartMoney, the long-aborning Dow Jones personal finance magazine.
But he swiftly changed beats from business to politics and, in 1996, turned out "Blood Sport," an examination of the Clintons, the late Vince Foster and Travelgate.
A Harvard-trained lawyer (he once worked at Cravath, Swaine and Moore), the 48-year-old, lanky, boyish-looking Mr. Stewart then turned his attention to medicine. In 1999, he wrote "Blind Eye: How the Medical Establishment Let a Doctor Get Away with Murder," about Michael Swango, M.D., who, Stewart's research showed, allegedly caused 60 deaths.