If everyone told the truth and nothing but the truth, writing biographies would be easy. Just talk to the right people, write up what they say and — voila! — you’d have the story of a life. But human nature being what it is, people would rather present themselves and their loved ones in the best possible light than share embarrassing or painful incidents from the past.
That’s why biographer Carol Felsenthal doesn’t mind when subjects like Katharine Graham, the legendary publisher of The Washington Post, flatly refuse to cooperate with her. “I have no desire to write an authorized biography,” she declares.
Felsenthal prefers telling the whole story — warts and all. Her research into the life of Katharine Graham, for example, unearthed a great deal of information that Graham and her family were apparently quite upset to see in print.
Much of Felsenthal’s bestselling biography, Power, Privilege and the Post: The Katharine Graham Story (Putnam), focuses on …