Check out this considered and well-reported piece by Noam Cohen about Joe Posnanski’s forthcoming biography on the late Joe Paterno in the New York Times:
Mark Kriegel, a sports columnist who has written biographies of Joe Namath and Pete Maravich, was more expansive. “I believe to do a biography, you need to love your subject, but you have to balance that passion,” he said. “On some level you have to love your subject, you have to have the devotion to your subject’s flaws and virtues. You have to care enough to become obsessed with your subject’s flaws.”
Creating distance is important, too. “In some ways that was easier for me with Namath, who didn’t cooperate,” Kriegel said.
…David Garrow, a longtime history professor whose biography of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “Bearing the Cross,” touched on King’s personal failings, said it was important to challenge your subject, even one as celebrated as King. “We are not in the business of being uplifting — that could be myth, but it ain’t history,” he said. “The lives of saints is not history, it’s myth. I think it is a far more powerfully inspiring story for readers to appreciate the inescapability of human imperfection than to spin myths.”
According to the article, Joe Pos received $750,000 from Simon & Schuster to write the book, scheduled to be published this fall. It is a short turnaround from the events of last year at Penn State. Is that enough time to do the subject justice? We know that Joe Pos is nothing if not prolific. I’m eager to see if he can pull it off.
[Photo Credit: Samuels]