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Alastair Forbes, 87, London journalist, John Kerry's uncle

LONDON -- Alastair Forbes, a journalist who drew on his circle of high-society friends for contacts and an uncle of Senator John F. Kerry, has died. He was 87.

Mr. Forbes died Thursday in a London hospital, his family said. No cause of death was given.

Born near London in 1918, Mr. Forbes was the son of James Grant Forbes, a lawyer from a well-known Boston family. Alastair Forbes's elder sister, Rosemary, was the mother of Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts. She died in 2002.

Mr. Forbes attended Cambridge University and served with the Royal Marines during World War II before embarking on a long and eventful career as a journalist.

Often charming and sometimes irascible, he developed a circle of friends and acquaintances that included playwright Noel Coward, photographer Cecil Beaton, and many members of Europe's royal families.

He used his social contacts for his journalism, once commenting that he was ''a name-dropper who knows the people whose names he drops."

Mr. Forbes worked for several British newspapers and in later years wrote long, opinionated book reviews for publications, including The Spectator magazine.

The Daily Telegraph noted yesterday in its obituary that his judgments ''left many an author seething, muttering threats of revenge through clenched teeth."

Mr. Forbes was quick to correct perceived slights, responding to a profile of him in The Spectator with a 20-page letter detailing its alleged mistakes.

He had many friends whom he sometimes exasperated.

''He was frequently dismissed from lunch tables and viewed the early train home on a Sunday morning after upsetting his hostess as an occupational hazard," the Telegraph said.

Twice married, Mr. Forbes leaves his son, Peter.

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