Clemente, the Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero.
As soon as this tragedy happened in New Orleans, I just was haunted by memories and thoughts about Roberto Clemente and sort of how he gave his life to help people in a situation like this. It was very heartening for me to see athletes of this era come through in ways larger than themselves.
Every athlete can't be like that
Sometimes heroes are born, and sometimes heroes are made. People get to show what they're made of in critical situations. You saw people demonstrate their values in this tragedy.
That's the moment that made him a saint in Latin America. Everything he did and said before and after that is crystallized in that moment, the point where he's finally got the world stage.
He told me, 'I want you to be good to my boys,'.. And I said, 'I'm going to find the truth and write the truth.' He almost got up and left.
It's sort of a gamble
I think he's emblematic of a certain type. He wasn't against the war, just didn't want anything to do with it. He wanted to get on with his life and not let the world get in the way.
The Prince of Tennessee
War doesn't go away when the bullets stop. Vietnam still is as relevant today as it was then.
I discovered in writing the biography of Bill Clinton that it is actually easier to write a biography of someone who is dead. Although you can't interview them, you have a fuller perspective on their whole life after they're gone and people are more willing to talk about them.
It's hard to know exactly how people develop the characters they do. There could be people from humble beginnings that turn into jerks. Some characteristics are just part of that special soul of that human being.
I said that I'm only there to write the truth, I'm not going to cover anything up, but I'll put everything in context and get as close to the truth of this person as I can.
I look for two things when I am about to launch into a book. First, there has to be a dramatic arc to the story itself that will carry me, and the reader, from beginning to end. Second, the story has to weave through larger themes that can illuminate the world of the subject.
I want my books to last, to stand the test of time, and to do that I focus on the forces that shape the subject - the cultural and sociological geography - to capture them in a way that will explain them no matter what they are doing.