Paula Broadwell Failed Her Readers
Biographers weigh in on Petraeus affair
By Evann Gastaldo, Newser Staff
Posted Nov 13, 2012 11:31 AM CST
In this Jan. 15, 2012 photo, Paula Broadwell, author of the David Petraeus biography "All In," poses for photos in Charlotte, NC.   (WBT)

(Newser) – Paula Broadwell's fellow biographers are predictably unhappy that the author "violated the bond of trust" between herself and her readers by having an affair with the subject of her book, David Petraeus, writes Laura Miller on Salon. Opinions from two biographers Miller spoke to:

  • James McGrath Morris: "She participated in something with her subject that reflects on his character and brings his judgment into question and she didn’t disclose it. It doesn’t even matter much what it was that she did. The real issue is the lack of disclosure of important information like that to the reader."

  • David Nasaw: "When Jayson Blair did his nonsense, it reflected badly on all journalists, and this will reflect on all biographers." One issue: Broadwell was not trained as a journalist. "Many of us come from careers in journalism and history, and for us the rules are clear," Nasaw says. "But they’re not clear for everyone."
  • But at the Guardian, Emma G. Keller notes that there's no clear "code of conduct for biographers"—and adds that writing a biography often involves "flattery, seduction, and attempts to establish intimacy" with your subject, which can lead to some tricky situations.

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Showing 3 of 8 comments
Fondue
Nov 13, 2012 2:01 PM CST
Anyway. Important things are happening.
pg13
Nov 13, 2012 1:38 PM CST
This woman had no prior writing credentials. It was obvious the book was a puff piece because Petraeus didn't use a biographer with a track record. Try Watergate hero Woodruff's suck-up "Bush At War". Now THAT was a violation of trust.
citizen_person
Nov 13, 2012 1:35 PM CST
Something about this woman is just creepy. And any woman who goes after a married man is just plain morally defective. (Yes, he did it, too.) But she is no one and we needed his experience and knowledge. This whole thing is ridiculous. Grumble, grumble, grumble...