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POLITICS

Pointing to Petraeus, Kitty Kelley explains why unauthorized biography is best

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Nikki Schwab

Biographers -- well, at least one -- have been in the news lately with the revelation that Gen. David Petraeus' mistress was also the woman to write a book about him. And that proves, according to best-selling author Kitty Kelley, that the unauthorized biography -- which Kelley is famous for -- is the way to go.

"I love biography, I love writing them, but it takes me a long time because I don't write it the way General Petraeus' biographer wrote," Kelley told Yeas & Nays, referencing author-turned-mistress Paula Broadwell. "I write an unauthorized biography and I believe in that kind of biography because -- even though it's controversial -- I think that to do an authorized biography you cheat history. You don't give the reader the full ballast of whatever truth you've uncovered because you're trying to keep the public image of the particular subject you're writing about and I don't believe in doing that."

Kelley said she didn't think that the Petraeus scandal necessarily muddied the genre. "No I think it was tainted to begin with," she said. "But I think it's much easier to write an authorized biography, you become an amanuensis, you take down what they say, you give it back to them, 'yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir,' " she continued.

Throughout her career, the D.C.-based Kelley has irritated public figures by writing books about them, including Oprah, the Bush family and Frank Sinatra. Her most recent tome "Capturing Camelot" is a little different. It's a picture book of sorts, featuring never before seen photos of President Kennedy and his family shot by Kelley's friend, the late Stanley Tretick. All the proceeds of the book will go toward the D.C. public libraries. "It's because Stanley lived in Washington, D.C., the Kennedys lived in Washington, D.C. and I live here and I care very, very much about the libraries," Kelley explained at a Washington book party held in her honor Tuesday night. "This is the first book I've written in 30 years where I have no compunction to say 'buy it' ... because I won't profit in any way."

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