Telling the Untold Story: How Investigative Reporters Are Changing the Craft of Biography

Telling the Untold Story: How Investigative Reporters Are Changing the Craft of Biography

by Steve Weinberg
     
 

Author of his own controversial unauthorized biography of Armand Hammer, Steve Weinberg here shows how a new generation of biographers is revealing the lives of powerful individuals in dramatic and important new ways.  Tracing the evolution of the craft of biography to the present day, Weinberg draws on interviews with some of today's best biographers, as well

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Overview

Author of his own controversial unauthorized biography of Armand Hammer, Steve Weinberg here shows how a new generation of biographers is revealing the lives of powerful individuals in dramatic and important new ways.  Tracing the evolution of the craft of biography to the present day, Weinberg draws on interviews with some of today's best biographers, as well as his own experience with the Hammer biography, to highlight the careers of some of the writers whose work exploded the boundaries of traditional biography.  For writers, reviewers, publishers, and general readers, Telling the Untold Story is a fascinating look at how a new kind of biographer has forever changed our expectations of the genre and continues to push biography to exciting new limits.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Professor Weinberg came up with an important subject for a book. I know of no other that fulfills his goals . . . . There is a lot of useful information in The Untold Story for the would-be biographer."--Nieman Reports

"A lively, inside account of how contemporary biographies are researched and written by journalists, who have brought fresh insight and methods of documenting the facts to a genre dominated (until recently) by university scholars."--Magill Book Reviews

"Steve Weinberg . . . reveals a passion for techniques of ferreting out both paper trails and obscure people hidden in the woodwork . . . The book succeeds at three levels. It is at once a history of biography writing . . . . The book works as a kind of anthology, reprinting high-interest periodical profiles . . . . The book works as a primer on investigative reporting."--Editor & Publisher

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
For those who agree with Weinberg that the public has a right to know everything about a public figure--and who have no qualms about invading privacy--this study will be a boon. Yet although he is critical of certain biographers, among them Kitty Kelley (exempting her Frank Sinatra book, His Way ), for their tell-alls, he fails to clearly define distinctions as to why an expose of, say, Henry Kissinger or Ron Hubbard, is justifiable but not, for example, a similar work on Jacqueline Onassis, only expressing disapproval of exposure ``for exposure's sake.'' Some readers might feel personally threatened, with cause, as the author details his own research for his biography Armand Hammer : he obtained data about Hammer's land transactions, his secured loans, the tax returns of his foundation and, using Lexis, a legal data base, he was able to search through foreign court systems. Arguing his thesis that a background in investigative journalism is the best training for a biographer, Weinberg identifies one-time reporter Robert Caro as in the vanguard of investigative biography with The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York , published in 1974; he then singles out Philadelphia Inquirer reporters Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele's 1979 biography of Howard Hughes, Empire , as the ``most important post-Robert Moses biography.'' Weinberg is at his most interesting when he follows the paper trail of these authors' researches, but decidedly less so when he reprints a fulsome 1989 article from the Los Angeles Times about Armand Hammer . (Oct.)
Booknews
Weinberg shows how a new generation of biographers is revealing the lives of powerful individuals in dramatic and important new ways. Tracing the evolution of the craft of biography up to the present, he draws on interviews with some of the best current biographers, as well as his own experience with his unauthorized biography of Armand Hammer, to highlight the careers of some of the writers whose work exploded the boundaries of traditional biography. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780826208736
Publisher:
University of Missouri Press
Publication date:
10/28/1992
Pages:
264
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Steve Weinberg is Associate Professor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia.  An avid reader and reviewer of biographies, he is the author of Armand Hammer:  The Untold Story, as well as Trade Secrets of Washington Journalists.

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