Alexander Palace Forum

Books and Films about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Books about the Romanovs and Imperial Russia => Topic started by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 01:01:48 PM

Title: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 01:01:48 PM
I am starting this thread again, and hopefully when the original is retrieved, it can be merged. Does anyone remember where we left off?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 01:13:31 PM
I am starting this thread again, and hopefully when the original is retrieved, it can be merged. Does anyone remember where we left off?

I logged off at 9:30 pm (Mountain time). Annie had just posted an offsite link I did not have a chance to open. It may have been related to Ms. Wilson's attendance at a conference.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 01:29:14 PM
Post heading: Dr.Strangelove or How I Stopped Frothing at the Mouth and Learned to Respect Peter Kurth

I learned one very important thing when this thread in its original form vaporized, and that is this: I have a new-found respect for Mr. Kurth. I don't share his beliefs (don't really even comprehend them), but I admire the fact that the man has guts and the courage of his convictions. He's outspoken, passionate, welcomes challenges (even heated, ornery ones) and DOES NOT FEAR THE WRITTEN WORD. I just cannot imagine this man requesting anyone to cover for him anywhere, anytime. I appreciate this now more than ever.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 01:32:19 PM
Let's see. I posted three issues I had with FOTR, where the authors' sources, when checked, did not check out.

1. Had to do with the grand duchesses' trip on the Rus, and the description of how they were treated by the guards. Possible implications of rape. We can get the exact quote from the book and discuss that farther.

2. Maria's relationship with one of the guards during the imprisonment, and the IF's reaction to it (implications of an "impropriety on Maria's part, possibly sexual relationship and the family "disowning" in a sense). Again, rigtht now this is alleged, until we can get the exact quotes from the book.

2. The "Romanov remains' DNA results are 'fishy'" issue. Simon argued that the authors had admitted their mistake about that. Belochka asked for a link as to where they retracted their statements about DNA (if it was in public). Simon said that they never said that the DNA was inaccurate, etc. Again, we have to get quotes from the book. Which led us to Annie mentioning the recent conference where Penny Wilson gave a talk, which was called something to the effect of: The Romanov remains and Anna Anderson, who was she?, where according to Annie, PW implied that the Romanov bones are no authentic. Annie, if you can repost what you said, that would be good.

And finally, the last post I saw before the thread was deleted was made by AGRBear, who posted one of Penny Wilson's old postings. I happen to have that post, so here it is:

Quote from: AGRBear on July 25, 2005, 11:28:26 PM
Here is some additional information from Penny on AA's child:

Yes.  She was quite adamant about the child's birth, and claimed a date in -- I think -- December 1918/January 1919 for the birth.  This is in the court records, along with her statement concerning the possible death of Alexander Tschaikowsky -- which AA claimed happened in a street-fight, but which can't be verified independently.

This date of birth, of course, places conception in the early months of 1918 -- unthinkable for people when the theory was that she was Anastasia, because that would mean one of two things:  That rape had happened in Tobolsk, on board the Rus, in the Ipatiev house, or all three; or Anastasia had had consensual sex while in captivity, presumably with a guard.  Either way, when she -- AA-as-Anastasia -- left the Ipatiev House in mid-July 1918, she was pregnant.


This of course refers to the Rus trip and implication that Anna Anderson was Anastasia... Issue #1.

Lets take it from there. If anyone else remembers anything else, you can post it here...


Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 27, 2008, 02:21:54 PM
Yes, that is a big issue. Sigh, it's going to be so hard to start again, it was a great thread. When I saw this, I had hoped it was the old one brought back from storage. I'll go regroup my info and come back to post more. Thanks for trying again, I guess that's all we can do now.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 27, 2008, 02:26:09 PM
Post heading: Dr.Strangelove or How I Stopped Frothing at the Mouth and Learned to Respect Peter Kurth

I learned one very important thing when this thread in its original form vaporized, and that is this: I have a new-found respect for Mr. Kurth. I don't share his beliefs (don't really even comprehend them), but I admire the fact that the man has guts and the courage of his convictions. He's outspoken, passionate, welcomes challenges (even heated, ornery ones) and DOES NOT FEAR THE WRITTEN WORD. I just cannot imagine this man requesting anyone to cover for him anywhere, anytime. I appreciate this now more than ever.

Jenn

I have to say I disagree. Having read many of his posts, and been on the negative recieving end of them, from my personal experience, I think he does indeed fear the written word if it disagrees with him,  and does not welcome challenges to his beliefs. Outspoken and passionate cannot be denied but that is not always a good thing. I am sorry to say, I have much less respect for him after seeing him and meeting him online. In fact, my experiences with him and Penny have taught me never to be starstruck of any writer, anyone who writes a book is no better or no worse than the rest of us. They should not be given special favors or consideration others would not receive. They are, after all, just people expressing their views online like everyone else.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 03:04:31 PM
Post heading: Dr.Strangelove or How I Stopped Frothing at the Mouth and Learned to Respect Peter Kurth

I learned one very important thing when this thread in its original form vaporized, and that is this: I have a new-found respect for Mr. Kurth. I don't share his beliefs (don't really even comprehend them), but I admire the fact that the man has guts and the courage of his convictions. He's outspoken, passionate, welcomes challenges (even heated, ornery ones) and DOES NOT FEAR THE WRITTEN WORD. I just cannot imagine this man requesting anyone to cover for him anywhere, anytime. I appreciate this now more than ever.

Jenn

I have to say I disagree. Having read many of his posts, and been on the negative recieving end of them, from my personal experience, I think he does indeed fear the written word if it disagrees with him,  and does not welcome challenges to his beliefs. Outspoken and passionate cannot be denied but that is not always a good thing. I am sorry to say, I have much less respect for him after seeing him and meeting him online. In fact, my experiences with him and Penny have taught me never to be starstruck of any writer, anyone who writes a book is no better or no worse than the rest of us. They should not be given special favors or consideration others would not receive. They are, after all, just people expressing their views online like everyone else.

Hey Annie, I understand completely where you're coming from. I am respecting him in the very narrow sense that, as far as I can tell, he faces his critics head on and not quaking in the bushes because he doesn't like what's being said. Whether he's making any sense or behaving decently or facing up to facts are other issues. And you are right not to be star-struck...by anyone.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 03:05:35 PM

I have to say I disagree. Having read many of his posts, and been on the negative recieving end of them, from my personal experience, I think he does indeed fear the written word if it disagrees with him,  and does not welcome challenges to his beliefs. Outspoken and passionate cannot be denied but that is not always a good thing. I am sorry to say, I have much less respect for him after seeing him and meeting him online.

I agree...


So moving right along, we were also asking for the "corrected" sources from FOTR which are claimed to exist, which AGRBear claims to have seen. If she can post them here (addressing at least the fist two issues), that would be great.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 03:24:25 PM
Robert, I have to thank you personally for standing up for the integrity of the original thread. It means a lot coming from someone who wasn't deeply involved in it. The integrity of the posters deserves to count for something too, especially the ones who use their real names.

I would like to be crystal clear about my posts. I write what I think, I am not afraid to stand by what I say and won't deny my own words here or in court, I love a good debate, welcome the opportunity to learn, to be challenged and to be corrected. My full name is Jennifer Lynn Sherwood and I'm addicted to books. So once more into the breech of an author's obligations.

(Sorry to digress guys, but this was gnawing at me).
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 27, 2008, 04:02:20 PM
Simon had made some comment about the allegations of rape on the Rus, and said something to the effect that "well Gibbes was there."

An analysis of the text of FOTR pg140-141 using the known evidence. (my additions in bold)
"'The women, as Buxhoeveden recalled, had been ordered "to leave our cabin doors open all night. No one undressed." [Through the open doors, the soldiers leered at the grand duchesses]this phrase added by the authors, there is NO factual evidence to support the statement, and it is asserted as FACT and not identified as speculation [refusing, as Volkov later learned, to "leave them in peace"]Completely false. Volkov stated the GDs WERE LEFT IN PEACE. The abuse reached a cresendo as the night wore on. exactly what abuse? again, abuse is stated as fact when there is no support in the evidence.   Gibbes, locked away in his cabin, listened helplessly, as he later told his son George, as the drunken guards harassesd the grand duchesses, "It was dreadful, what they did,"  the former tutor recalled.  The "terrifed screams" of the girls, Gibbes said, haunted him, "to the end of his life."When Gibbes was deposed by Sokolov within months of the event, HE SAID NOTHING about abuse or screams or anything else. This statement was made literally decades after the fact, and saliently in House of Special Purpose George Gibbes made NO MENTION of this event on the Rus. "Rodionov, who was in charge of the evil-looking detachment, insisted on padlocking Alexis and Nagorny into their cabin, even though it was made clear that the child might need a doctor. The girls, on the other hand, were forbidden to lock their cabin door." (HOSP, pp. 102-103) 
 
"Almost certainly, the Grand Duchesses were subjected to taunts, and perhaps lewd advances at the hands of the drunken Latvian guards, how this progressed as the evening wore on is impossible to determine." Saliently, there is no cited evidence to support this supposition at all, much less "almost certainly'. To the contrary, Buxhoeveden writes specifically that only the assigned guards came near them, the others stayed on their assigned part of the boat, see "Left Behind" - "The rest of the soldiers did not come near us and spent the day on their part of the deck, singing and playing the accordion.  Some had fine voices, and it carried us back to happier days,..."
 
"no matter what took place, it is difficult not to believe that the experience had a profound traumatic effect on the young women, particularily grand Duchess Olga. Once she arrived in Ekaterinburg, Olga was withdrawn, silent, and did not mix with her sisters, perhaps indicating that she suffered some significant trauma. "  Buxhoeveden says Olga N. was showing these syptoms in April, weeks BEFORE the voyage on the Rus: cf. Life & Tragedy..."Olga Nicholaevna was in a state of great anxiety. She longed to join her parents, for whose fate she trembled, and, on the other hand, she feared the move for her brother, both on account of his health and also for fear of what the move might lead to" at Ch. 31; or perhaps for myriad of other reasons including imprisonment itself under increasingly difficult circumstances. - cf: Gilliard Ch. 22 "The conditions of the imprisonment were much more severe than at Tobolsk. Avdiev was an inveterate drunkard, who gave rein to his coarse instincts, and, with the assistance of his subordinates, showed great ingenuity in daily inflicting fresh humiliations upon those in his charge. There was no alternative but to accept the privations, submit to the vexations, yield to the exactions and caprices of these low, vulgar scoundrels."
 
"The near veil of silence surrounding the events of that night, however, is not difficult to understand, given the exalted position of the Grand Duchesses; ... to present them as paragons of all moral virtue  or perhaps the "silence" is because NOTHING ACTUALLY HAPPENED so no one had anything to say. ie: the entire diary entry of Gilliard:
"Monday May 20th - At half-past eleven we left the house and went on board the Russ.  She is the boat which brought us with the Czar and Czarina eight months ago.  Baroness Buxhoeveden has been granted permission to rejoin us.  We left Tobolsk at five o'clock.  Commisar Rodionov has shut Alexei Nicholaievich in his cabin with Nagorny.  We protested: the child is ill and the doctor ought to have access to him at any time.
"Wednesday May 22nd - We reached Tiumen this morning."
or here is the ENTIRE discussion on the subject in the Sokolov investigation's report made AFTER interrogating all surviving passengers of the Rus(pg 146)
    "Here is how the journey of the imperial children went under the command of Rodionov:
     "From Gilliard's deposition: "Rodionov behaved very badly. He closed off from outside the cabin in which were found Alexei with Nagorny.  All of the other cabins, in particular those of the Grand Duchesses were not to be locked from inside, under his order."
     "The morning of May 22, the imperial children arrived in Tiumen."

 
"Those on board the ship were unable (being locked up) or unwilling (through fear of reprisal ...) again, suppostion without evidence, yet stated as fact...This may be the key to the events of that night: shame and humiliation at not being able to come to the defense of the helpless Grand Duchesses might well account for Gibbes' "worst memory.


I also found that I had said this, and I believe it is one fundamental obligation of authors:
ANY author writing what purports to be accurate historical non-fiction must keep what they know "for sure from the evidence" separate from their speculation and imagination based on that evidence.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on February 27, 2008, 04:24:03 PM


So moving right along, we were also asking for the "corrected" sources from FOTR which are claimed to exist, which AGRBear claims to have seen. If she can post them here (addressing at least the fist two issues), that would be great.

I did give an answer.

It was eliminated as was the thread.

I assume FA changed his mind.   So,  until I know what happen,  I'm going over to my forum where I'm working on the timeline of 10:30 PM 16 July 1918 to 25 July 1918 which deals with the execution and buriel of the nine in the mass grave and the 2 who were said to be burned and buried elsewhere.


AGRBear

PS  FA and I posted at the same time, evidently.   

PSS Since this is FA's forum,  he can and does eliminate what he does not want posted.

 PSSS: I cannot comment  about the events on the Russ because FA has told me I could not, so, until I have permission, Bear must remain a mute on the events which occurred on the Russ.







Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 04:28:13 PM
So moving right along, we were also asking for the "corrected" sources from FOTR which are claimed to exist, which AGRBear claims to have seen. If she can post them here (addressing at least the fist two issues), that would be great.

IMO, this thread isn't the ideal place for this issue. If we want to analyze specific particulars of FOTR and its sources, I think that belongs on a thread solely about FOTR.

It's been made abundantly clear that there are mistakes in FOTR. To bring the discussion back to topic, it seems to me that we should be discussing the authors' obligations now that those errors have been discovered.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 04:31:23 PM
In my wildest dreams I cannot fathom how editorial error could account for the disconnect between King's and Wilson's own words and Rob's cogent analysis. Bear, Simon or anyone in contact with them, how do King and Wilson account for this? Not a challenge, just a question.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 04:39:31 PM
In my wildest dreams I cannot fathom how editorial error could account for the disconnect between King's and Wilson's own words and Rob's cogent analysis. Bear, Simon or anyone in contact with them, how do King and Wilson account for this? Not a challenge, just a question.

King and Wilson did post an explanation of this and a couple other issues on their forum many months ago. To the best of my knowledge, they said the error regarding the Rus testimony had to do with incorrect placement of footnotes. Unfortunately I never thought to copy and save their statement, and their entire forum is no longer accessible. If we had a copy now, I'd be interested to see whether their explanation would satisfy readers' concerns.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 04:40:23 PM
So moving right along, we were also asking for the "corrected" sources from FOTR which are claimed to exist, which AGRBear claims to have seen. If she can post them here (addressing at least the fist two issues), that would be great.

IMO, this thread isn't the ideal place for this issue. If we want to analyze specific particulars of FOTR and its sources, I think that belongs on a thread solely about FOTR.

It's been made abundantly clear that there are mistakes in FOTR. To bring the discussion back to topic, it seems to me that we should be discussing the authors' obligations now that those errors have been discovered.

Sarushka, when I initiated the thread in its original form, I didn't want to limit discussion to any one author or book, hoping to avoid the Kurth/King/Wilson personal vendetta charge. The thread has stayed true to topic, with slight forays into fiction and movies as well. If I understand you correctly, you would want a separate thread for each author and each book?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 04:42:14 PM
In my wildest dreams I cannot fathom how editorial error could account for the disconnect between King's and Wilson's own words and Rob's cogent analysis. Bear, Simon or anyone in contact with them, how do King and Wilson account for this? Not a challenge, just a question.

King and Wilson did post an explanation of this and a couple other issues on their forum many months ago. To the best of my knowledge, they said the error regarding the Rus testimony had to do with incorrect placement of footnotes. Unfortunately I never thought to copy and save their statement, and their entire forum is no longer accessible. If we had a copy now, I'd be interested to see whether their explanation would satisfy readers' concerns.

I'm interested too; Bear may have this information handy.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 04:49:47 PM
I see Penny Wilson online, maybe she can help us clear up the confusion.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 04:51:06 PM
Sarushka, when I initiated the thread in its original form, I didn't want to limit discussion to any one author or book, hoping to avoid the Kurth/King/Wilson personal vendetta charge. The thread has stayed true to topic, with slight forays into fiction and movies as well. If I understand you correctly, you would want a separate thread for each author and each book?

Nope. What I mean is, we all agree -- even Simon, I think -- that there are errors in FOTR. The point of this thread as I see it is not to dissect and examine errors in any given book, but rather to discuss what an author's response and responsibility should be once errors are discovered and brought to light.

I'm not sure that's going to be any clearer than my last post.... If anyone else sees what I'm trying to say, feel free to help clarify what I mean!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on February 27, 2008, 04:51:31 PM
I don't have permission from FA to give you any answers about my thoughts on the events which occurred on the Russ or how the error occurred in FATE OF THE ROMANOVS by King and Wilson, which I remember very well.

Sorry.

AGRBear

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 04:58:43 PM
I see Penny Wilson online, maybe she can help us clear up the confusion.


I wouldn't hold my breath...


I don't have permission from FA to give you any answers.

I wasn't holding my breath...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 05:37:29 PM
Sarushka, when I initiated the thread in its original form, I didn't want to limit discussion to any one author or book, hoping to avoid the Kurth/King/Wilson personal vendetta charge. The thread has stayed true to topic, with slight forays into fiction and movies as well. If I understand you correctly, you would want a separate thread for each author and each book?

Nope. What I mean is, we all agree -- even Simon, I think -- that there are errors in FOTR. The point of this thread as I see it is not to dissect and examine errors in any given book, but rather to discuss what an author's response and responsibility should be once errors are discovered and brought to light.

I'm not sure that's going to be any clearer than my last post.... If anyone else sees what I'm trying to say, feel free to help clarify what I mean!

Well, I may be coming off as thick-headed so apologies in advance, but we're laying the groundwork by specifying the errors and then determining what corrections would be necessary to satisfy both the author and the reader. We were also debating what effect errors have on the writer's reputation, based on how those errors are addressed, or not addressed as the case may be. But please feel free, if you would like to begin a thread with a narrower focus you'd be more comfortable with.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 27, 2008, 05:54:55 PM
Post heading: Dr.Strangelove or How I Stopped Frothing at the Mouth and Learned to Respect Peter Kurth

I learned one very important thing when this thread in its original form vaporized, and that is this: I have a new-found respect for Mr. Kurth. I don't share his beliefs (don't really even comprehend them), but I admire the fact that the man has guts and the courage of his convictions. He's outspoken, passionate, welcomes challenges (even heated, ornery ones) and DOES NOT FEAR THE WRITTEN WORD. I just cannot imagine this man requesting anyone to cover for him anywhere, anytime. I appreciate this now more than ever.

Jenn

Sorry for replying to my own post, seems a little sad, but what I wrote hurt the feelings of the first poster who ever befriended me here. This post was written with tongue thoroughly in cheek. In reality, Mr. Kurth's treatment of his opponents has been deplorable, as an email Annie had posted in the original thread yesterday clearly proved. My intent here was only to advocate for freedom of speech, no matter how disgusting or objectionable that speech might be. My intent was good, the execution backfired.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 27, 2008, 06:19:49 PM
There is no mystery about the explanation about this particular incident. Penny told me personally on the phone that this was sloppy editing as they were in a rush to publication.  I believe her entirely and accept this. However, I stand behind what I said before is a primary obligation of an author: ANY author writing what purports to be accurate historical non-fiction must keep what they know "for sure from the evidence" separate from their speculation and imagination based on that evidence.

With all respect to Penny and Greg and no personal implications here at all, I simply find that certain instances in the book are speculation or assumption on their part, stated to give the appearance of facts. Its fine for them to speculate on the events, but they do NOT let the reader know that these are their speculative conclusions, nor did they present the contradictory evidence to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as I did above. This is why I brought up the particular incident on the Rus, as well as Simon having bought into the statements as being fact "because Gibbes said so and he was there", when the large balance of the evidence simply indicates otherwise with respect to anything having possibly happened to the Grand Duchesses on the Rus. 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: ChristineM on February 27, 2008, 06:28:13 PM
The fact of the matter is, that until the deepest recess of GARF is opened and the events of the journey of the Imperial children on the 'Rus' is released and fully and professionally sourced - if indeed it exists - NOBODY knows what happened on that river journey.   It is all speculation and the really disgusting thing is that it should be sensationalised.   In so far as this particular episode in the lives of the Imperial daughters is concerned, they should be allowed to Rest In Peace.

Please show some sensitivity.

Christine
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 27, 2008, 06:39:33 PM
I agree with Christine. This has been rehashed so many times, and here it is even off the topic of the author's obligations.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: LisaDavidson on February 27, 2008, 06:40:39 PM
Sarushka, when I initiated the thread in its original form, I didn't want to limit discussion to any one author or book, hoping to avoid the Kurth/King/Wilson personal vendetta charge. The thread has stayed true to topic, with slight forays into fiction and movies as well. If I understand you correctly, you would want a separate thread for each author and each book?

Nope. What I mean is, we all agree -- even Simon, I think -- that there are errors in FOTR. The point of this thread as I see it is not to dissect and examine errors in any given book, but rather to discuss what an author's response and responsibility should be once errors are discovered and brought to light.

I'm not sure that's going to be any clearer than my last post.... If anyone else sees what I'm trying to say, feel free to help clarify what I mean!

Sarah: I understand exactly what you mean. You're saying to us - let us discuss an author's obligations as a separate topic and not get into personality attacks on authors. I agree this would be a most worthwhile subject. And, if others want to dissect a particular book in a responsible way, that would also be worth looking into, too - but in a separate topic area.

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 07:03:51 PM
There is no mystery about the explanation about this particular incident. Penny told me personally on the phone that this was sloppy editing as they were in a rush to publication.  I believe her entirely and accept this. However, I stand behind what I said before is a primary obligation of an author: ANY author writing what purports to be accurate historical non-fiction must keep what they know "for sure from the evidence" separate from their speculation and imagination based on that evidence.

With all respect to Penny and Greg and no personal implications here at all, I simply find that certain instances in the book are speculation or assumption on their part, stated to give the appearance of facts. Its fine for them to speculate on the events, but they do NOT let the reader know that these are their speculative conclusions, nor did they present the contradictory evidence to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as I did above. This is why I brought up the particular incident on the Rus, as well as Simon having bought into the statements as being fact "because Gibbes said so and he was there", when the large balance of the evidence simply indicates otherwise with respect to anything having possibly happened to the Grand Duchesses on the Rus. 

I think I agree with the bulk of this. A relevant point I brought up late last night is the fact that technically and literally speaking, Volkov has not been misquoted. The four words in quotation marks attributed to Volkov in the text of FOTR are correct: "leave them in peace." However, as Rob said, the speculation and unreferenced information surrounding that quote causes heaps of trouble.

Radzinsky has a similar habit, though he seems to get away with less backlash, perhaps because his speculations tend to be more like poetic asides than concrete claims. I'll try to dig up a couple examples....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 07:06:55 PM
Well, I may be coming off as thick-headed so apologies in advance, but we're laying the groundwork by specifying the errors and then determining what corrections would be necessary to satisfy both the author and the reader. We were also debating what effect errors have on the writer's reputation, based on how those errors are addressed, or not addressed as the case may be. But please feel free, if you would like to begin a thread with a narrower focus you'd be more comfortable with.

That's all valid and relevant. I guess I'm just gun-shy after seeing so many threads over the years digress into an FOTR maelstrom. After watching the discussion veer off late last night -- and I have to admit I contributed a post or two dissecting King & Wilson's portrayal of the Rus incident -- I can't help being concerned that we're going to end up fixating on the error itself again rather than all the issues you mentioned above. In short, this shouldn't (IMO) be a thread about just one book, or just one error. On the original thread we also talked about Radzinsky well as the editing team of Mironenko and Maylunas.


Sarah: I understand exactly what you mean. You're saying to us - let us discuss an author's obligations as a separate topic and not get into personality attacks on authors. I agree this would be a most worthwhile subject. And, if others want to dissect a particular book in a responsible way, that would also be worth looking into, too - but in a separate topic area.

Yes, that's pretty much what I mean.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 27, 2008, 07:38:38 PM
An example of Radzinsky's slightly fanciful speculations. This passage concerns the arrival of the first secret "Officer Letter" in the Ipatiev house:

 "This is how the letter promising them escape appeared. It was signed: 'Prepared to die for you, an officer of the Russian army.' Oh, how Alix likes this signature. Her migraines are but a memory. She is once again the old spitzbube. Yes, it has come to pass. They have come. They have not abandoned their tsar! Good Russian people! They are prepared to liberate their emperor. The holy man has sent the family a 'legion of angels.'
 "She begs Nicky to reply. As always, he calmly agrees."
~The Last Tsar, pg 318

To my knowledge, there's no record of how Nicholas and Alexandra reacted to the arrival of the first letter proposing an escape plan. Alexandra's diary doesn't mention it at all. So it appears that Radzinsky invented the notion that Alix "likes this signature" or "begs Nicky to reply," and that "he calmly agrees." Sure, these reactions are all consistent with what we know about the imperial couple's personalities, but no matter how well Radzinsky knows his subjects, the fact is that NOBODY really knows how the tsar and his wife reacted to this letter. To my way of thinking, that means this passage is technically historical fiction. The scene he's created is possible, maybe even probable, but it's NOT non-fiction.

Radzinsky's done a heap of research in Russian archives and has had access to formerly classified information. As a result, he seems to feel a deep intuitional, even mystical connection with Nicholas and Alexandra. Frankly, I think that's pretty nifty, and I think his extensive research probably has given him great insight into the imperial family. However, I still want to know when the information he presents is derived from fact, and when it's coming from his own instincts.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Dominic_Albanese on February 27, 2008, 09:06:53 PM
Can we (please) not tear into FOTR again, it's been discussed en-naseum on multiple threads.  The authors gave their explanation (which you can or can not  accept).  Let's move this discussion back out to a more generic discussion that those of us who are still learning to write can learn from...

dca
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on February 27, 2008, 09:14:35 PM
I apologize for digressing.

Since Helen opened this thread and directed her words to myself and Penny,  I feel I need to respond, even without FA's permission.



... [ in part]....
Here is some additional information from Penny on AA's child:

Yes.  She was quite adamant about the child's birth, and claimed a date in -- I think -- December 1918/January 1919 for the birth.  This is in the court records, along with her statement concerning the possible death of Alexander Tschaikowsky -- which AA claimed happened in a street-fight, but which can't be verified independently.

This date of birth, of course, places conception in the early months of 1918 -- unthinkable for people when the theory was that she was Anastasia, because that would mean one of two things:  That rape had happened in Tobolsk, on board the Rus, in the Ipatiev house, or all three; or Anastasia had had consensual sex while in captivity, presumably with a guard.  Either way, when she -- AA-as-Anastasia -- left the Ipatiev House in mid-July 1918, she was pregnant.


This of course refers to the Rus trip and implication that Anna Anderson was Anastasia... Issue #1.

Lets take it from there. If anyone else remembers anything else, you can post it here...




Remember  I explained certain threads that  too many posts were eliminated, and,  posters went back and changed their posts  [this was when people could go back and anytime and change their posts].  So what people read, now,  will read something entirely different than it was intended to be since it's, now,  out of context..

Yes, we were talking about what Gibbes' son said that his father had said.

Yes,  we were talking about the various testimonies of the people who were on the Russ.

I believe it was Chat Noir who mentioned AA's story in the middle of that discussion.... One post lead to another.... We were no longer talking about the Grand Duchess but AA and von Kleist's claim that AA had a child in Dec. of 1918.  So,  if AA  [NOT GD Anastasia] had a child in Dec.,  one needed to count back seven to nine months.  Let me repeat.  We were talking about AA's and von Klest's dates.  Someone  reminded us that AA had denied von Kleist's story and that she claimed to have had a child in 1919.  I think we agreed that since AA claimed she had a child with Tchaikovsky  that she couldn't have had a child in Dec. 1918 so it had to have been born seven to eight months after July of 1918.  Unfortunately, somewhere,  I jokingly mentioned that someone had written in their diary that GD Anastasia was said to be getting fat.  I later apologized because this caused some eye brows to flare up.  And, this caused people to incorrectly think I thought AA was GD Anastasia.  Which I do not.


That was my  BIG ERROR.  When FA pointed out my blunder,  I openly admitted my blunder at the time.  Because when I do make blunders or any kind of errors,  I do admit it, say I'm sorry, and expect people to accept my apology.  

Since I don't believe AA is GD Anastasia,  most people did not have a problem with  accepting my apology, accept Helen and Annie, who have no intentions of accepting my apology, then, now, or later, and,  they have no intentions of stopping this campaign against King and Wilson.  I assume they attack me because I continued to defend King and Wilson.  

Now, back to the Russ and the events which may or may not have occurred.

FA has his opinion about the events which he believes  occurred on the Russ.  I find them interesting.  Just as I find  King's and Wilson's opinions  interesting.  I believe they have seen GARF, talked to Gibbes' son (or read what he had said) and other documents which caused them to think it worth presenting in their book.

Their error was a simple one.  The publisher had taken out part of a sentence, which wasn't caught, and so the footnote ended up at the end of the sentence which meant the footnote was establishing the wrong point.   And,  that point  was and still  concerns FA who wishes this error and the other errors could  be corrected.  

After some heated discussion on AP,  both King and Wilson left AP, and, then  placed on their forum how the errors occurred.  I accepted their  explanation, as do others.  

Unless the publisher allows King and Wilson to correct the errors,  the errors will remain.  And,  the book will be reprinted, again and again with those errors.  This is what is.   And,  if you have ever published anything,  you'd realize that an author loses many rights when he/she sign the dotted line.  How do I know?  Experience.  And,  if anyone tells you differently, then,  they have been some of the lucky ones who haven't had this problem.

Let me repeat for the umpteenth  time since Helen and Annie fail to understand and seem to want you to believe otherwise:  
I do not believe AA was GD Anastasia.

AGRBear



Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on February 27, 2008, 09:38:41 PM
As I said yesterday on the thread that was eliminated, I think a great deal of the problem in reading Edvard Radzinsky is the fact that whoever it was who translated his work,  didn't do a very good job.

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 27, 2008, 09:40:58 PM
Let me repeat for the umteenth  time since Helen and Annie fail to understand and seem to want you to believe otherwise: 
I do not believe AA was GD Anastasia.

And me repeat this for the umteeth time too, I do not, nor did I ever   CARE whether you think AA was Anastasia. In fact, I don't really care what you think about any of it. And if you can find a post that reveals otherwise, I would be very surprised...  ;-)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 27, 2008, 11:32:29 PM
Belated thanks, Jenn.
In a probably futile attempt to diversify this thread a bit from the Kurth, et al discussion- Someone asked what an author of historical fiction owes his or her readers.
 Well, I just fisnished reading GONE WITH THE WINDSORS by Laurie Graham. A humorous as well as bitter account of the abdication years. Told in diary form by Wallis' fictiional best friend from Baltimore. The detail is precise, not only with historical facts of the events but also down to which stores, restaurants, cafe and clubs were "in" at that time. How an Englishwoman nailed American attitudes is really amazing. Of course everyone, except Wallis is filthy rich and the class system is still going strong.
 I became so engrossed in the story, that at times I forgot I was reading a novel.  It took a bitchy or dumb American comment to bring me back to the reality of what I was reading. I think it would make a great movie.
  Anyway, the author achieved her duty to tell a story and tell it well. If someone takes it seriously, is that her fault?  I would say no, in my opinion.
 Much the same with Dan Brown. He took historical facts and used his imagination to tell a tale and pick up a bucket of money doing it. Is it his fault the some turned it into a cult [more a fad, I would say]  and others took offence? I think not.
 So there you have. My attempt to lighten the mood around here.

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on February 28, 2008, 07:32:10 AM
There is no mystery about the explanation about this particular incident. Penny told me personally on the phone that this was sloppy editing as they were in a rush to publication.  I believe her entirely and accept this. However, I stand behind what I said before is a primary obligation of an author: ANY author writing what purports to be accurate historical non-fiction must keep what they know "for sure from the evidence" separate from their speculation and imagination based on that evidence.

With all respect to Penny and Greg and no personal implications here at all, I simply find that certain instances in the book are speculation or assumption on their part, stated to give the appearance of facts. Its fine for them to speculate on the events, but they do NOT let the reader know that these are their speculative conclusions, nor did they present the contradictory evidence to allow the reader to draw their own conclusions as I did above.

And as I have stated elsewhere on this forum and in discussion of this same topic, sometimes an author's primary obligation is to the stylistic requirements of the publisher. I have here on my p.c. before me - and I think I am the only person who still does - the chapter dealing with the Rus incident in the form in which it was originally written, with much to and fro discussion of the evidence presented by Sidney Gibbes; George Gibbes; Edvard Radzinsky; and Nikolai Ross - little of which evidence (and none of the discussion AFAIR without checking the final version of the book, which is at home) made it into the final version. There is discussion of WHY Gilliard was silent; WHY Buxhoeveden was silent; was Gibbes's evidence from his papers reliable so long after the fact and when he himself was in his own cabin - and so on. And, yes, the fact that Buxhoeveden noted Olga's withdrawal and depression before she left Tobolsk is duly noted.

On November 29th 2002, after rewrites and vast cuts according to Wiley's requirements, Greg wrote to me "The entire book-and I do mean that-has completely changed from what you read-so it's going to be interesting to see your take on it-it's much lighter."
So there you go. Perhaps now someone will believe what I've said several times here about style and the presentation of evidence, but I'm not holding my breath. And my take on the final version was that while much was far more smoothly written I regretted the removal of much of the discussion relating to the obviously controversial issues.

When I was freaking out over what might be being said on this forum and others and not wanting to look at them, Greg also said to me, "These isn't anything on any of these boards which should induce anything other than bemusement," - and - boy - looking now I see how right he was. Helen's post about FOTR's discussion of DNA, about the Rus, about Penny's alleged beliefs about the bones simply makes my head spin. It even makes me laugh. If there are any errors in the discussion of the DNA evidence in FOTR it's because the topic was considered of small importance to the book and no-one studied it in real depth.
Greg again: "The DNA has been condensed to a reiteration of the tests coupled with changes in methodology and the recent objections on which we take no position" - 29 November 2002.  THis was because the historical and anthropolgical evidence, coupled with the DNA, was considered to be decisive.
Greg yet again: "Of course, given the issues of the grave being known, being tampered with by someone at some point prior to 1991, we've unfortunately laid out the case that some loon can take it up and say "Ah ha! They had all the information to show and prove the grave was a hoax but they missed it" or some such rot." - 7 January 2003.
Ho hum - I don't think he ever realised that anyone would acccuse HIM or his co-author of believing the grave was a fake. Then again, he probably did, because he always expects this kind of stuff. 
I didn't hear Penny's talk at the ERHJ Conference and don't know what she said, because I have at this point just about zero interest in the death of Nicholas II; in his children; and in people claiming to be them. But I heard from a friend that the gist of her talk was examining the possibility that AA was a Russian aristocract (NB This does NOT mean that Penny thinks she actually was; just that she examained the question).

As regards the Rus, I should add that Greg told me in October 2001 that he did not believe there was a rape.

Is this enough?

Anyway, as regards an author's obligations once any errors have been detected, as I said in a post in the thread that got deleted (much of which I didn't see, though I'm confident I'm not repeating too much since no-one here was there where I was in 2001-3), you all of you here got far more out of Penny than you would out of any other author. And then she set up a forum to deal with it further. And Greg - who had long since moved on from FOTR in an intellectual sense and was up to his eyes in his next books by the time all this really erupted - duly did his bit beside her.

Enough. Please. God knows why I'm even doing this since I know it's futile - maybe I just get caught into historiographical debate and I enjoy being able to speak from a position of knowledge. The weird story of this book has got to be way more interesting than the subject matter in the end....;-) Not that it wasn't totally expected anyway.



Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 09:11:23 AM
I do wish people would STOP being specific about FOTR per se.  I brought it up only to demonstrate my point about authors' obligations to their readers.

I find it a bit distressing, personally, that so many people seem to be so "cavalier" about authors relinquishing accuracy in order to make a book "saleable".  This is for me, the defining line between academic publishing, which is devoted to accuracy and vanity press for people who don't want the rigors of academia and just want to peddle books.  Now their is nothing wrong with EITHER side, but readers MUST, IMO, make a strict difference between the two in terms of RELIABILITY for the information contained therein.

I think Janet has demonstrated this point, perhaps inadvertently, but demonstrated it well.

little of which evidence (and none of the discussion AFAIR without checking the final version of the book, which is at home) made it into the final version.

so, the question, of course becomes JUST HOW can a reader KNOW what was left on the cutting room floor? The answer: they can't. As Bear noted, these inaccuracies left forever by editors unfamiliar with the material will become THE NEW FACTS. AS AN EXAMPLE ONLY; for years this forum will have people come in and say "Well, FOTR on pg. 201quotes Vokov saying the Grand Duchesses were NOT left in peace."
Is this, genuinely and honestly ANY SERVICE to those wishing to know the truth?? Is the ceding of historical accuracy to editors/publishers of real value to future generations wishing to know the actual facts?

I accept fully that an author of a non-academic work may give up their right to keep the integrity of their work to the publisher to make the book SALEABLE. BUT, WHERE IS THE RESPONSIBILITY/OBLIGATION FOR THIS, FROM THE PERSON WHOSE NAME IS ON THE COVER AS AUTHOR?

It's all well and good to accept the explanation that the publisher made severe cuts, but does this EXCUSE the resulting distortion of the actual history? Why do the authors feel its "ok" to NOT accept their responsibility to the readers and future historians for the resulting product. THIS is my problem.  Honestly, how difficult could it be for an author to insist that a one paragraph note precede the text saying "Substantial portions of the historical evidence and pertinent record have been omitted due to publication constraints regarding length of this book.  As a result some portions of this text may no longer accurately reflect the historical record."

At least with academic publication, as opposed to the vanity press, one does not have these dilemmas. 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 09:25:31 AM
Belated thanks, Jenn.
In a probably futile attempt to diversify this thread a bit from the Kurth, et al discussion- Someone asked what an author of historical fiction owes his or her readers.
 Well, I just fisnished reading GONE WITH THE WINDSORS by Laurie Graham. A humorous as well as bitter account of the abdication years. Told in diary form by Wallis' fictiional best friend from Baltimore. The detail is precise, not only with historical facts of the events but also down to which stores, restaurants, cafe and clubs were "in" at that time. How an Englishwoman nailed American attitudes is really amazing. Of course everyone, except Wallis is filthy rich and the class system is still going strong.
 I became so engrossed in the story, that at times I forgot I was reading a novel.  It took a bitchy or dumb American comment to bring me back to the reality of what I was reading. I think it would make a great movie.
  Anyway, the author achieved her duty to tell a story and tell it well. If someone takes it seriously, is that her fault?  I would say no, in my opinion.
 Much the same with Dan Brown. He took historical facts and used his imagination to tell a tale and pick up a bucket of money doing it. Is it his fault the some turned it into a cult [more a fad, I would say]  and others took offence? I think not.
 So there you have. My attempt to lighten the mood around here.

All good points.

As an author of historical fiction, I take my responsibility to my readers very seriously, in part because I've chosen to write about real people. That choice creates another responsibility -- a responsibility to my characters. IMO, anyone who chooses to write fiction about real people has an obligation to present those people accurately, without altering their personality or warping their personal history to fit the story. I'd go so far as to say that if you can't be reasonably true to the real people in your story, you shouldn't write it at all. If you want to write serious historical fiction, you have to be willing to accept the constraints of history and character.

Of course, fiction requires different conventions than non-fiction. A novel needs an emotional arc, a plot with forward thrust and eventual resolution, and so forth. Real life  isn't always that neat and tidy. Some alterations are almost always required to turn history into satisfying fiction. Acceptable alterations to my way of thinking include creating composite characters, telescoping the timeline, and other gentle streamlining to fit the forms of fiction. Basically, I don't think anyone should have to "unlearn" anything after reading a historical novel. For example, novels about Anastasia pretenders don't bother me, because Anastasia Nikolaevna's death has not been established as a historical fact. However, I don't care for books like Curse of the Romanovs, which contradict fact.

Curse of the Romanovs brings up an interesting point: although the story deviates significantly from fact in one striking instance, the author acknowledges that alteration openly in the afterword. Does that fulfill her obligation as an author of historical fiction? Yeah, much as I disagree with her choice to contradict history, I have to concede that she did it the "right" way. Oh, and besides, the novel is also a fantasy, which probably more or less gets the author off the hook in the first place.

I know lots of folks have far less rigid tastes and standards. For many people, the label "fiction" alone is enough to free an author from most obligations of fact. I get that. I don't agree with it, but I get it, and it's tough point to argue with. Fiction by definition is something "feigned, invented, or imagined" after all.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 09:32:39 AM

When I was freaking out over what might be being said on this forum and others and not wanting to look at them, Greg also said to me, "These isn't anything on any of these boards which should induce anything other than bemusement," - and - boy - looking now I see how right he was.


Janet, as I have stated many times before I apreciate your insight, because you have opened my eyes to the way editing and publishing should work in a perfect world, and how they end up working in reality.

Having said this, I'm disappointed to learn that Mr. King (whom I respect and don't believe I've ever disparaged), would find only "bemusement" on a forum such as this. Is anyone, published or not, credentialed or not, really so completely confident in their own knowledge that they've nothing left to learn?

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 09:44:47 AM
A big question I would like to have answered is, did the authors allow their close relationship to Peter Kurth, and his making them heirs to the AA legacy handed down to him by Harriet Rathlef, possibly taint the way certain pieces of evidence in the book were presented? While it has not been mentioned in awhile, when FOTR was being written, and after it was published, it was mentioned that there would be a new book in the works discussing AA. This has led some of us to wonder if perhaps some of the questionable info in FOTR was perhaps a setup or lead-in to that?

In a post dated April 12, 2000, Peter Kurth clearly states that Penny and Greg are to carry on for AA:

(I do have a link for this but cannot post it because the first half included inappropriate content. If anyone wants to see it PM me)

Let me do it, Greg.  The work you and Penny are doing must be protected,
because you are standing on my shoulders, and I on Dominique Aucleres',
and she by authority and intimate association with Tatiana Botkin, whose
brother was Gleb Botkin, whose daughter, Marina Botkin Schweitzer, has
given her blessing to your work.

All but Marina, Gleb, and Tatiana stand also on the shoulders one
valiant woman, Harriet von Rathlef-Keilmann, a Jew in Berlin, who helped
a suffering stranger find her feet in the world, and all by herself,
against giant and malevolent forces, kept our friend alive and in loving
company until the professionals, at her most urgent appeal, realized
that they had to step in and get rid of the stink.  To Frau von Rathlef,
more even than to "Alexander Tchaikovsky,"  whoever he was, Anastasia
owed her life.

I am Harriet von Rathlef's director successor, in possession of her
original notes.  With my blessing and Marina's, you and Penny will
entwine the different branches of the tree and in fact become its
crown, for there will be no more talk of definitive proof, whether it's
98.5 percent or 18.2.  By my judgment, which is impeccable on this
topic, the DNA tests are down already to 40.9 or even 6.5 or
873 or March 3 instead of June 8.  It's the difference between a
Galitzin and a Golitsyn, and percentages, of course, have no relation to
life.

I'd advise the librarians and genealogists and pop-self-promoters to
come up with a new idea pretty quick.  The test tube is now leaking
stink, which, to our minor irritation, and in the hands of a
professional, will be gone before you can think. We have always known
how easy it is to expose frauds and impostors.  We are the experts on
that.

Henceforth, only the persons above named as heirs and successors, along
with Brien Horan, Ian Lilburn, and you through our constant charge, will
be permitted to call themselves authorities on "Anna Anderson," along
with such persons as otherwise designate.  So get to it, and leave the
rats to me.  I can hear them already, hissing and spitting in their
little holes, biting somebody's toe with their little rat teeth, and,
the minute they appear again, squashed with a single blow and taken
permanently out of the house.

Fondly,

Peter Kurth



In addition to this, there was much talk of this possibly affecting the direction of FOTR both before it was written and after it was published. I can produce proof, though I think at this time posting it would likely not be welcome, it is true and I can prove it if anyone requests it. (and no I wasn't there and had nothing to do with it, it was all 2000-2003 and I only recently found it) Since then, the topic has come up many times on this board, and while some of you call it 'ad nausem' we have never received a suffient answer to our questions. For me, it was very vindicating to find out others had noticed and questioned the same things I had come to later, proving hopefully that I am not 'making things up' or imagining them. There really does seem to be something here or so many people wouldn't have questioned it. We have questioned, yes, but we have no answers. Here's hoping we will get them soon.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 09:44:47 AM
It's all well and good to accept the explanation that the publisher made severe cuts, but does this EXCUSE the resulting distortion of the actual history? Why do the authors feel its "ok" to NOT accept their responsibility to the readers and future historians for the resulting product. THIS is my problem.  Honestly, how difficult could it be for an author to insist that a one paragraph note precede the text saying "Substantial portions of the historical evidence and pertinent record have been omitted due to publication constraints regarding length of this book.  As a result some portions of this text may no longer accurately reflect the historical record."

IMO, if you don't have the space to fully discuss an issue or incident of this nature, an even more responsible solution would be to exclude it entirely.

On the other hand, the authors of a book called The Secret Life of Harry Houdini set up a website to handle this problem. The book is not footnoted due to concerns of space and readability, but the web address is printed in the book itself, allowing readers to more fully explore and analyze the authors' claims.


That Houdini biography brings up another interesting point to debate regarding authors' obligations. The book contains this disclaimer:
"To make certain stories come alive for the reader, we've dramatized scenes using composite material, but although we occasionally shift what people said in time, we've always remained faithful to what the players said and thought. When we give you Houdini's thoughts, they are based on interviews or letters in which he's revealed them. We made nothing up; in some cases, we've just turned facts into dialogue."

I was not amused, as you can see here (http://sarahmillerbooks.blogspot.com/2007/08/biographical-sleight-of-hand.html) and here (http://sarahmillerbooks.blogspot.com/2007/08/sorry-mr-anonymous.html).

This strikes me as similar to Radzinsky's approach, though Radzinsky's never taken the time to spell it out that way. How do you guys feel about this? Does a disclaimer make it ok to "dramatize" in a piece of non-fiction? IMO, the Houdini authors have done the right thing in one sense by specifying their alterations, but I still don't think those alterations are appropriate in the first place.

Bottom line: I get really cranky when non-fiction gets blurred into historical fiction for the sake of baiting reluctant readers into giving non-fiction a try.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 09:50:46 AM
Quote
I have removed Annie's post as it is OT. This is NOT a discussion about the specific content of any book, unless such specifics are cited ONLY to support the Topic at Hand, ie: the obligations of an author to their readers.

Thank you for your cooperation.

FA

Do an author's obligation to their readers not include being more true to history than their own possible goals? If you believe this, then why can't we explore the background that my prove there were issues involved that affected the information in FOTR and how it was presented? This IS on topic, and is the main reason for this thread.

Many of us have noticed the connection between the AA 'agenda' and the 'mistakes'/'bad editing' in FOTR, and would like some answers. How is this not an author's obligation?

(note to all: my posts included the same info I had in the now deleted thread, apparently now this is taboo. To those I promised this post to, please know that I tried)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 09:52:34 AM
Sarah,

I think it is self evident that the moment an author "dramatizes" (or dramatises for UK readers) it is no longer non-fiction and becomes Historical fiction.  Honestly, imagine it being exactly the same as all those History Channel shows that "miraculously" have "video footage" of Mark Antony and Cleopatra or Washington at Valley Forge or whatever...dramatization is that.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 09:53:15 AM
Having said this, I'm disappointed to learn that Mr. King (whom I respect and don't believe I've ever disparaged), would find only "bemusement" on a forum such as this. Is anyone, published or not, credentialed or not, really so completely confident in their own knowledge that they've nothing left to learn?

I apologize for throwing your "newbie" status in your face again, but if you'd seen the way some of the book discussion threads have gone in the past, you'd be hard pressed to choose between being bemused and appalled.

I'd also wager a guess that King was addressing what had already been posted at that point in time, rather than commenting that no one, ever, on any message board could post anything worthy of more than bemusement.


On the other hand, the authors of a book called The Secret Life of Harry Houdini set up a website to handle this problem. The book is not footnoted due to concerns of space and readability, but the web address is printed in the book itself, allowing readers to more fully explore and analyze the authors' claims.

I wasn't very clear here: the website contains full annotations and source notes to the text.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 09:57:04 AM
I understand how some of you, especially those of you are personal friends with Penny, don't want to see FOTR dragged around the block again. However, while it has been discussed many times before, there was previously unseen - or as the authors would possibly call it 'startling new evidence' that was lost when the thread was deleted. The subject here is 'an author's obligation' to make every effort to present truth and accuracy in nonfiction, or write historical fiction, or fan fiction, instead. A lot of us have numerous questions as to whether or not this standard was upheld with FOTR, if not, if it was intentional or a 'mistake' that caused the inaccuracies. Mistakes in editing? Errors in translation? Intentionally wording things in a misleading way as to suggest a possible theory as fact? This issue needs to be addressed and hopefully answered to satisfaction. Saying 'leave her alone she's had enough' is not going to make it go away. If it was that easy, I can think of several bill collectors I'd like to tell that to, but they are not going to leave me alone. I don't mean to pick on this one book specifcially and I will address others later, such as DeJong's Rasputin book, but please, let us bring to light all the things that need to be investigated about the topic of FOTR and its accuracies, whether intended or not.

I agree that these issues are fair game for discussion on the forum. However, Rob has said time and again that this thread is not the place to examine FOTR. Specific questions about FOTR should be addressed in a different thread.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on February 28, 2008, 09:58:05 AM

When I was freaking out over what might be being said on this forum and others and not wanting to look at them, Greg also said to me, "These isn't anything on any of these boards which should induce anything other than bemusement," - and - boy - looking now I see how right he was.


Janet, as I have stated many times before I apreciate your insight, because you have opened my eyes to the way editing and publishing should work in a perfect world, and how they end up working in reality.

Having said this, I'm disappointed to learn that Mr. King (whom I respect and don't believe I've ever disparaged), would find only "bemusement" on a forum such as this. Is anyone, published or not, credentialed or not, really so completely confident in their own knowledge that they've nothing left to learn?

Jenn

He did not at all mean to disparage anyone's knowledge - he just meant that I should not be angry or fearful at attacks on him - that's the specific context of what he said about "bemusement" being the only approporiate response.

In a rush, but wanted to answer that at once....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Eurohistory on February 28, 2008, 10:00:17 AM

I didn't hear Penny's talk at the ERHJ Conference and don't know what she said, because I have at this point just about zero interest in the death of Nicholas II; in his children; and in people claiming to be them. But I heard from a friend that the gist of her talk was examining the possibility that AA was a Russian aristocract (NB This does NOT mean that Penny thinks she actually was; just that she examained the question).



Dearest Janet,

At the ERHJ Conference last October, which at least 20 of those in attendance also happen to be APA members – many of them at my urging – Penny Wilson gave an excellent lecture on Nicholas Konstantinovich Jr and his American paramour. It was an amazing lecture and everyone in the crowd was mightily impressed, not only by the amount of research shared, but also by the photographic samples she used to illustrate her talk.

Regards,

Arturo Beéche
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 10:06:33 AM
I don't understand how exploring this could possibly be 'OT' when Helen is the one who started the thread and this is exactly the topic she wanted addressed. If the thread is to be censored due to the personal feelings some of our members have for Penny, please let us know that is the case.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 10:09:09 AM

I didn't hear Penny's talk at the ERHJ Conference and don't know what she said, because I have at this point just about zero interest in the death of Nicholas II; in his children; and in people claiming to be them. But I heard from a friend that the gist of her talk was examining the possibility that AA was a Russian aristocract (NB This does NOT mean that Penny thinks she actually was; just that she examained the question).



Dearest Janet,

At the ERHJ Conference last October, which at least 20 of those in attendance also happen to be APA members – many of them at my urging – Penny Wilson gave an excellent lecture on Nicholas Konstantinovich Jr and his American paramour. It was an amazing lecture and everyone in the crowd was mightily impressed, not only by the amount of research shared, but also by the photographic samples she used to illustrate her talk.

Regards,

Arturo Beéche

Arturo, that was #2 on your list, but was # 10 on your list not also discussed? Could you please share the subject matter with us? Thank you!

10. The Romanov Bones: Who was Anna Anderson, by Penny Wilson.

http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,10369.0.html
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Eurohistory on February 28, 2008, 10:15:41 AM
The agenda was changed and only the Nicholas Konstantionovich talk was given as we had too much to present on other far more interesting topics than an old beaten horse.

Regards

Arturo Beéche
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 10:17:13 AM

When I was freaking out over what might be being said on this forum and others and not wanting to look at them, Greg also said to me, "These isn't anything on any of these boards which should induce anything other than bemusement," - and - boy - looking now I see how right he was.


Janet, as I have stated many times before I apreciate your insight, because you have opened my eyes to the way editing and publishing should work in a perfect world, and how they end up working in reality.

Having said this, I'm disappointed to learn that Mr. King (whom I respect and don't believe I've ever disparaged), would find only "bemusement" on a forum such as this. Is anyone, published or not, credentialed or not, really so completely confident in their own knowledge that they've nothing left to learn?

Jenn

He did not at all mean to disparage anyone's knowledge - he just meant that I should not be angry or fearful at attacks on him - that's the specific context of what he said about "bemusement" being the only approporiate response.

In a rush, but wanted to answer that at once....

Thank you for the quick clarification. Just goes to show you, while context is everything, the spirit of that pesky 5th Amendment has drifted from the courthouse to this thread. And rightfully so, in my opinion!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 10:25:22 AM
The agenda was changed and only the Nicholas Konstantionovich talk was given as we had too much to present on other far more interesting topics than an old beaten horse.

Regards

Arturo Beéche

I agree the Konstantinovichi are more interesting. If you feel like AA is a dead horse why did you allow it to be addressed? Are you saying that #10 on your list was not given? Janet has already stated that her friend heard the speech, and I saw it mentioned on the KW forum too. Did she or did she not make the speech on the bones?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Ilana on February 28, 2008, 10:28:04 AM
I was there and the lecture was on Nicholas Konstantionovich.  It was a great talk... actually both of Penny's talks were fascinating.  No bones anywhere as I recall.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 10:29:38 AM
Sarah,

I think it is self evident that the moment an author "dramatizes" (or dramatises for UK readers) it is no longer non-fiction and becomes Historical fiction.  Honestly, imagine it being exactly the same as all those History Channel shows that "miraculously" have "video footage" of Mark Antony and Cleopatra or Washington at Valley Forge or whatever...dramatization is that.

Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, while based on her own personal life, is listed as fiction due to dramatization.  Same with Earl Hamner and The Waltons. I have even heard that "Roots" has been called historical fiction since Alex Haley filled in the blanks of the real stories he knew with his own added dramatization.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 10:30:01 AM
I don't understand how exploring this could possibly be 'OT' when Helen is the one who started the thread and this is exactly the topic she wanted addressed. If the thread is to be censored due to the personal feelings some of our members have for Penny, please let us know that is the case.

Annie, bless your heart for trying. If ANY author can only be discussed in association with words like "amazing" and "mightily impressed" and other synonyms, then it's not a discussion, it's propaganda. Unless you ascribe to the propaganda, it's better to ignore it.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 10:34:12 AM
I don't understand how exploring this could possibly be 'OT' when Helen is the one who started the thread and this is exactly the topic she wanted addressed. If the thread is to be censored due to the personal feelings some of our members have for Penny, please let us know that is the case.

Annie, bless your heart for trying. If ANY author can only be discussed in association with words like "amazing" and "mightily impressed" and other synonyms, then it's not a discussion, it's propaganda. Unless you ascribe to the propaganda, it's better to ignore it.

Thank you.


On the subject of this seminar,

http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,10369.0.html

I am still confused. Can anyone give me a direct answer, was #10 discussed or was it not? I am getting conflicting reports and very vaguely shrouded responses.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 10:38:26 AM
Having said this, I'm disappointed to learn that Mr. King (whom I respect and don't believe I've ever disparaged), would find only "bemusement" on a forum such as this. Is anyone, published or not, credentialed or not, really so completely confident in their own knowledge that they've nothing left to learn?

I apologize for throwing your "newbie" status in your face again, but if you'd seen the way some of the book discussion threads have gone in the past, you'd be hard pressed to choose between being bemused and appalled.


No apology needed Sarushka, by the way it's retro-newbie! ;) Just goes to show you people should speak and write carefully because their words may well live on long after those people are dead and buried.

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 10:48:50 AM
I don't understand how exploring this could possibly be 'OT' when Helen is the one who started the thread and this is exactly the topic she wanted addressed. If the thread is to be censored due to the personal feelings some of our members have for Penny, please let us know that is the case.

Correction: Puppylove started the original thread. Helen started this "sequel" thread after the orignal was lost.

You're not being censored. You're being asked repeatedly to start a related discussion in a separate thread.


Quote
I have removed Annie's post as it is OT. This is NOT a discussion about the specific content of any book, unless such specifics are cited ONLY to support the Topic at Hand, ie: the obligations of an author to their readers.

Thank you for your cooperation.

FA

Do an author's obligation to their readers not include being more true to history than their own possible goals? If you believe this, then why can't we explore the background that my prove there were issues involved that affected the information in FOTR and how it was presented? This IS on topic, and is the main reason for this thread.

Many of us have noticed the connection between the AA 'agenda' and the 'mistakes'/'bad editing' in FOTR, and would like some answers. How is this not an author's obligation?

(note to all: my posts included the same info I had in the now deleted thread, apparently now this is taboo. To those I promised this post to, please know that I tried)

Again, all you need to do is start a new thread. How about this: "Questions about FOTR"
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 11:03:04 AM
I don't understand how exploring this could possibly be 'OT' when Helen is the one who started the thread and this is exactly the topic she wanted addressed. If the thread is to be censored due to the personal feelings some of our members have for Penny, please let us know that is the case.

Correction: Puppylove started the original thread. Helen started this "sequel" thread after the orignal was lost.

You're not being censored. You're being asked repeatedly to start a related discussion in a separate thread.


Quote
I have removed Annie's post as it is OT. This is NOT a discussion about the specific content of any book, unless such specifics are cited ONLY to support the Topic at Hand, ie: the obligations of an author to their readers.

Thank you for your cooperation.

FA

Do an author's obligation to their readers not include being more true to history than their own possible goals? If you believe this, then why can't we explore the background that my prove there were issues involved that affected the information in FOTR and how it was presented? This IS on topic, and is the main reason for this thread.

Many of us have noticed the connection between the AA 'agenda' and the 'mistakes'/'bad editing' in FOTR, and would like some answers. How is this not an author's obligation?

(note to all: my posts included the same info I had in the now deleted thread, apparently now this is taboo. To those I promised this post to, please know that I tried)

Again, all you need to do is start a new thread. How about this: "Questions about FOTR"

But this thread, and the original, were started for this purpose! FOTR has not and will not be the only book discussed.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 11:11:51 AM
Annie, there are only two possible outcomes to this thread if FOTR is mentioned, the mods will either delete all those references or lock the thread entirely. It's better for the book to have a dedicated thread, if you want your voice to be heard clearly.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 11:15:09 AM
I've started a thread for the specific questions regarding FOTR that have risen out of this discussion:

Questions about FOTR (http://forum.alexanderpalace.org/index.php/topic,10971.new.html#new)

Annie, you'll find that I've already pasted some of your inquiries there. I hope that thread will proceed to your satisfaction.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Eurohistory on February 28, 2008, 11:36:01 AM

I am still confused. Can anyone give me a direct answer, was #10 discussed or was it not? I am getting conflicting reports and very vaguely shrouded responses.

From one of the people who attended:

For "The Romanov Bones: A Lingering Dispute”  I commented…: “Lots of great discussion including theories of who Anna Anderson had been if not Anastasia and not Franziska Schanzdowska...” It was mainly interesting speculation on who AA could have been.  There was absolutely nothing controversial about the talk, it was really good as I remember."

Another attendee said:

"Mainly an open discussion on the subject...lots of audience participation and suggestions as to who AA could have been."

I would hope this is sufficient to address your curiosity. And no I cannot post anything other than, the material not available.

Regards,

Arturo Beéche
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 11:45:46 AM
Sarah,

I think it is self evident that the moment an author "dramatizes" (or dramatises for UK readers) it is no longer non-fiction and becomes Historical fiction.  Honestly, imagine it being exactly the same as all those History Channel shows that "miraculously" have "video footage" of Mark Antony and Cleopatra or Washington at Valley Forge or whatever...dramatization is that.

I agree, but I think the line can be a little fuzzier than that.

The crucial difference as I see it between Radzinsky's style and the dramatization in The Secret Life of Houdini is that the Houdini authors maintain they've used only documented quotes, thoughts, and feelings to build their, shall we say "enhanced," scenes. Nothing is invented.

Radzinsky on the other hand uses his research as a springboard for his imagination. Though he seems to stop short of concocting dialog, he does invent people's actions and feelings. His inventions are based on research and knowledge, but they're inventions nonetheless.

IMO neither approach is appropriate in non-fiction, but I think Houdini's biographers' method of dramatization is at least more honest and accurate than Radzinsky's.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 11:49:05 AM

From one of the people who attended:

For "The Romanov Bones: A Lingering Dispute”  I commented…: “Lots of great discussion including theories of who Anna Anderson had been if not Anastasia and not Franziska Schanzdowska...” It was mainly interesting speculation on who AA could have been.  There was absolutely nothing controversial about the talk, it was really good as I remember."

Another attendee said:

"Mainly an open discussion on the subject...lots of audience participation and suggestions as to who AA could have been."

I would hope this is sufficient to address your curiosity. And no I cannot post anything other than, the material not available.

Regards,

Arturo Beéche

Thank you. Does this mean the DNA tests, either of the Romanov bones or the Anna Anderson tests, were not questioned in the speech?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Eurohistory on February 28, 2008, 12:15:14 PM
I do not remember...too long ago already and frankly not something that I am interested in pursuing any further. I've shared with you all that needs to be said.

regards,

Arturo Beéche
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on February 28, 2008, 12:16:41 PM
I do wish people would STOP being specific about FOTR per se.  I brought it up only to demonstrate my point about authors' obligations to their readers.

I find it a bit distressing, personally, that so many people seem to be so "cavalier" about authors relinquishing accuracy in order to make a book "saleable".  This is for me, the defining line between academic publishing, which is devoted to accuracy and vanity press for people who don't want the rigors of academia and just want to peddle books.  Now their is nothing wrong with EITHER side, but readers MUST, IMO, make a strict difference between the two in terms of RELIABILITY for the information contained therein.

I think Janet has demonstrated this point, perhaps inadvertently, but demonstrated it well.

little of which evidence (and none of the discussion AFAIR without checking the final version of the book, which is at home) made it into the final version.

so, the question, of course becomes JUST HOW can a reader KNOW what was left on the cutting room floor? The answer: they can't. As Bear noted, these inaccuracies left forever by editors unfamiliar with the material will become THE NEW FACTS. AS AN EXAMPLE ONLY; for years this forum will have people come in and say "Well, FOTR on pg. 201quotes Vokov saying the Grand Duchesses were NOT left in peace."
Is this, genuinely and honestly ANY SERVICE to those wishing to know the truth?? Is the ceding of historical accuracy to editors/publishers of real value to future generations wishing to know the actual facts?

I accept fully that an author of a non-academic work may give up their right to keep the integrity of their work to the publisher to make the book SALEABLE. BUT, WHERE IS THE RESPONSIBILITY/OBLIGATION FOR THIS, FROM THE PERSON WHOSE NAME IS ON THE COVER AS AUTHOR?

It's all well and good to accept the explanation that the publisher made severe cuts, but does this EXCUSE the resulting distortion of the actual history? Why do the authors feel its "ok" to NOT accept their responsibility to the readers and future historians for the resulting product. THIS is my problem.  Honestly, how difficult could it be for an author to insist that a one paragraph note precede the text saying "Substantial portions of the historical evidence and pertinent record have been omitted due to publication constraints regarding length of this book.  As a result some portions of this text may no longer accurately reflect the historical record."

At least with academic publication, as opposed to the vanity press, one does not have these dilemmas. 

As I am sure you know, there is a vast difference betwen "vanity" publishing - which an author pays for in recognition of the fact that their book is too niche or frankly too poor to sell commercially - and "commercial" publishing which the publisher pays for and which may occasionally (but usually doesn't) result in great riches and fame for an author. From what I have seen and know, commercial publishing is as rigorous as academic, with the author subjected to as many demands and questions by an editor, and usually with less time or space. It is also quite possibly harder to break into.

I do not consider that sacrificing the presentation of specific strands of argument to space constraints is in any way the same thing as sacrificing integrity or responsibility, so long as the author remains true to their OWN conclusions (regardless of how fully presented the arguments leading to theose conclusions may be) and is prepared to answer questions relating to gaps or additional information for interested colleagues or readers.

Perhaps a reader has a certain obligation to trust to the integrity of the writer, too, and to ask questions with a genuine desire to learn. For example, Massie in Nicholas and Alexandra states that Queen Victoria encouraged Alix to accept Nicholas's proposal. Practically everyone with any amount of Romanov knowledge believes this to be untrue; and Massie does not footnote that information. But he didn't make it up as some might rush to conclude. Buried in his bibliography is the source: Narishkin-Kourakin, as it happens, says this was so; and I believe she was mistaken. Yet without extensive knowledge of the sources, few people would be aware of this because an author cannot footnote every single little thing.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 12:24:43 PM
[

I do not consider that sacrificing the presentation of specific strands of argument to space constraints is in any way the same thing as sacrificing integrity or responsibility, so long as the author remains true to their OWN conclusions (regardless of how fully presented the arguments leading to theose conclusions may be) and is prepared to answer questions relating to gaps or additional information for interested colleagues or readers.


What about the real life scenario, as evidenced by FOTR as we know know, where, by your own admission Janet, the PUBLISHER was responsible for resulting errors and in fact presenting material contrary to the author's conclusions? Who then should bear the responsiblilty?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on February 28, 2008, 12:27:31 PM
[

I do not consider that sacrificing the presentation of specific strands of argument to space constraints is in any way the same thing as sacrificing integrity or responsibility, so long as the author remains true to their OWN conclusions (regardless of how fully presented the arguments leading to theose conclusions may be) and is prepared to answer questions relating to gaps or additional information for interested colleagues or readers.


What about the real life scenario, as evidenced by FOTR as we know know, where, by your own admission Janet, the PUBLISHER was responsible for resulting errors and in fact presenting material contrary to the author's conclusions? Who then should bear the responsiblilty?

I did not say that the publisher presented evidence contrary to their conclusions. The publisher asked for stylistic changes and cuts; it was the argument that was sacrificed rather than the conclusions.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 12:54:14 PM
What about the real life scenario, as evidenced by FOTR as we know know, where, by your own admission Janet, the PUBLISHER was responsible for resulting errors and in fact presenting material contrary to the author's conclusions? Who then should bear the responsiblilty?

I did not say that the publisher presented evidence contrary to their conclusions. The publisher asked for stylistic changes and cuts; it was the argument that was sacrificed rather than the conclusions.

Is this the proper scenario: Stylistic changes are requested. The authors make those changes. As a result of those cuts and changes, a footnote is misplaced, creating a mistake which has since been ascribed to "editorial error."

If that's indeed the case, who then bears the responsibility for correction?

And at what point is an error deemed worthy of the expense of a reprint?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 28, 2008, 12:58:37 PM

Thank you. Does this mean the DNA tests, either of the Romanov bones or the Anna Anderson tests, were not questioned in the speech?

Annie, are you familiar with the Latin maxim "qui tacet consentiret" or "silence gives consent?" Sometimes, not always, when people answer a yes or no question with a comment about failing memory or disinterest, the answer is yes. I'm not saying this is the case here, just something to keep in mind when you come up against roadblocks in your quest for answers.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 01:15:17 PM
Unless the publisher allowes King and Wilson to correct the errors,  the errors will reamain.  And,  the book will be reprinted, again and again with those errors.  This is what is.   And,  if you have ever published anything,  you'd realize that an author loses many rights when he/she sign the dotted line.  How do I know?  Experience.  And,  if anyone tells you differently, then,  they have been some of the lucky ones who haven't had this problem.

Apparently I'm one of the lucky ones, which is perhaps why I have such a hard time swallowing this notion that authors are essentially powerless and publishers are red-pen-waving bullies. I offer my experience as a counter-example.

I've discovered two mistakes in my own book since its publication. Neither of them affect the story's accuracy or integrity in significant ways:

1. In the text, I spelled "smilax" incorrectly. The result was "similax" which coincidentally is also the name of a plant, but not the plant I meant to refer to.
2. In the afterword I attributed the loss of Annie Sullivan's original letters regarding her early work with Helen Keller to a house fire in the 1940's. In fact they were destroyed decades earlier by a leaky roof.

Honestly, I didn't expect errors of this nature to be a big priority. I was fully prepared to wait for the paperback edition for corrections.

My editor's response?
"No problem at all, we can definitely fix both for the [hardcover] reprint, and thanks for catching them.  Just let me know how you’d like the text to read for the lines of afterword in question.  As you suspect, it is best if we can keep type changes to a minimum now that the film the book has been set, so anything you can do to keep the changes simple will be much appreciated, but factual accuracy is certainly our first priority."


This isn't a bitsy publisher -- this is Simon & Schuster. And my book is neither a blockbuster nor a non-fiction tome on a controversial subject -- it's a midlist historical novel for young adults. Yet they're perfectly willing to correct very minor errors.

My point is, it's not always an uphill-backwards-in-the-snow sort of battle. Sometimes it's not a battle at all, and I challenge the notion that my experience is the exception.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 01:30:24 PM
Depending on what it is, errors can be a big problem. In Klier and Mingay's "Quest for Anastasia", they wrote that FS and her brother Felix were 'children of the second marriage, less straighlaced and religious than the children of the first family.' This caused many AA supporters to latch on to this as proof that FS and her sister Gertrude were not maternally related so the DNA from Gertrude's grandson, Maucher, should not have matched and therefore the DNA tests were suspect. However, as it turns out, this was incorrect. All five children did have the same mother, FS being the oldest and Felix second youngest. They were technically all 'children of the second marriage' since the father had been married once before but had no children (his wife died, possibly in childbirth of a stillborn baby) So what may have seemed like a simple error as minor as when the letters were destroyed turned into a big stink when it inaccurately reported the relationship of FS and Gertrude as half sisters. No, I do not accuse the authors of doing this on purpose, somewhere, they must have received info they believed to be correct, but were mistaken. Unfortunately, the incorrect info from "Quest" is repeated almost verbatim by Frances Welch in her "A Romanov Fantasy", using "Quest" as her source. See, if mistakes are not corrected, misinformation can perpetuate forever.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on February 28, 2008, 01:53:06 PM
That is just the problem, Annie. Once a book is published, there are rarely reprints.  Especially now, as it is very costly and publishers are only going to do extra editions if they are selling J.K. Rawlings or Dan Brown, Stephen King, etc. Sometimes, if a book goes to paperback, the opprotunity  to correct is available, but even that is pretty rare with non-fiction. For most authors on Romanov related topics, it is a one-shot deal. I must have close to 1,000 books on the Romanovs and related topcs here, and each and every one has some sort of mistake. Wheter it be text, picture captions, or a missing or wrong entry on a genealogical chart.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on February 28, 2008, 01:54:32 PM
What about the real life scenario, as evidenced by FOTR as we know know, where, by your own admission Janet, the PUBLISHER was responsible for resulting errors and in fact presenting material contrary to the author's conclusions? Who then should bear the responsiblilty?

I did not say that the publisher presented evidence contrary to their conclusions. The publisher asked for stylistic changes and cuts; it was the argument that was sacrificed rather than the conclusions.

Is this the proper scenario: Stylistic changes are requested. The authors make those changes. As a result of those cuts and changes, a footnote is misplaced, creating a mistake which has since been ascribed to "editorial error."

If that's indeed the case, who then bears the responsibility for correction?



In my opinion whoever made the cut bears responsibility. There may be extenuating circumstances such as time or other pressures on either author or editor, but in an intellectual sense if the author made the mistake of whatever nature the author bears responsibility for correcting it in whatever arena. I don't know any authors who would argue differently, and most would cheerfully own up to errors in the name of improving their own work or credibility.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 02:06:23 PM
That is just the problem, Annie. Once a book is published, there are rarely reprints.  Especially now, as it is very costly and publishers are only going to do extra editions if they are selling J.K. Rawlings or Dan Brown, Stephen King, etc. Sometimes, if a book goes to paperback, the opprotunity  to correct is available, but even that is pretty rare with non-fiction. For most authors on Romanov related topics, it is a one-shot deal. I must have close to 1,000 books on the Romanovs and related topcs here, and each and every one has some sort of mistake. Wheter it be text, picture captions, or a missing or wrong entry on a genealogical chart.

Yes, no reprints is a big problem. I once paid $30 for a book that was supposed to list everyone on my Dad's side of the family back 300 years. I was so excited when it came, but looking through it, I noticed that they had cut off my Great Grandfather's list of ten children at one- therefore me and everyone else in my branch of the family were omitted. I called the author and told him I could send him a list of the rest of us; we'd love to be included, too. He told me if he ever did a reprint, he would. It's been 25 years.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 02:13:11 PM
Here's another one: what about a library's responsibility to keep inaccurate or outdated info off the shelves? I know most libraries are so big they can never go through every single thing and know if it's accurate or not, but if something is brought to the attention of the library's director, shouldn't he consider this? In a smaller, local library, I noticed that they were cleaing house of many old, outdated nonfiction books. As the director walked past the history section, I showed him "File on the Tsar" and "Hunt for the Tsar" and asked him if there was any chance they'd be put in the book sale soon. If they were, I didn't want to miss them for a buck or less! He said no, because history books, unlike science books, never go out of date (this from the same place that threw out "Fall of Eagles" and "The Romanovs" by Virginia Cowles) I told him that because of science, the DNA tests and the discovery of the Romanov bones, the books were outdated and it would be a shame for a student to use them for a project at school and give incorrect information. He still insisted that history was not like science and the books were valid (even though I insisited science was the reason for it!) The books are still sitting there, as nonfiction. Sigh. I think they should at least be stamped with a disclaimer that the info inside is no longer current or accurate.

I did go to a booksale once at a large library that had tossed out all books- for free- that were outdated because they were written about former communist countries before the iron curtain fell, and also science books so outdated they spoke of hoping to land on the moon 'someday.'
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 02:15:02 PM
I do not remember...too long ago already and frankly not something that I am interested in pursuing any further. I've shared with you all that needs to be said.

regards,

Arturo Beéche

I feel it is important, because some of us had been asking if Penny had changed her views on the validity of the bones and the DNA as bear and Simon claim. IMO, if she was still touting them as possibly corrupt or invalid as recently as October, even after the Ekaterinburg discoveries  of the summer, that would make a great deal of difference.

One more thing, and I'll shut up. I feel horribly cheated by how this thread, and the 'bumped' one have turned out. When the original author's obligation thread was deleted, we were told we would be able to reproduce it if we could with all the same info. Since then, many have jumped in to do their best to stop this from happening and seem to have succeeded.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on February 28, 2008, 02:30:03 PM
Excuse me. I did not say that Penny Wilson had changed her opinion as to the validity of the bones OR the DNA. I said that she was aware that there may have been problems with their explanations of the science involved, something which I dimly recall seeing on this very board, so even that isn't news.

If by "bones" you are referring to those in the 1991 grave, King and Wilson accepted those as the Imperial Family and servants in FOTR. If you mean the bones recently discovered nearby, my impression is that she regards them as likely belonging to Alexei and the missing daughter. It is my impression, as we did not have the conversation notarized.

It is worth pointing out that readers have an obligation to authors, i.e. to read their words attentively.

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 03:34:07 PM
Excuse me. I did not say that Penny Wilson had changed her opinion as to the validity of the bones OR the DNA. I said that she was aware that there may have been problems with their explanations of the science involved, something which I dimly recall seeing on this very board, so even that isn't news.

If by "bones" you are referring to those in the 1991 grave, King and Wilson accepted those as the Imperial Family and servants in FOTR. If you mean the bones recently discovered nearby, my impression is that she regards them as likely belonging to Alexei and the missing daughter. It is my impression, as we did not have the conversation notarized.

It is worth pointing out that readers have an obligation to authors, i.e. to read their words attentively.



Penny has not posted on this board in quite awhile. Penny gave her speech entitled "The Romanov Bones: Who Was AA" last October. So if she has changed her views, it would have to have been since then. As far as I have seen, she and Greg share Kurth's views on the questioning of the 1991 bones, and the 1994 AA DNA tests. I did see on the KW forum (when it was visible to lurkers) that she had a wait-and-see attitude on the newfound Ekaterinburg remains. This is why I was interested in the content of the Oct. '07 speech.

The old thread is gone, so I can't read it, attentively or otherwise.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 03:38:49 PM
I do not remember...too long ago already and frankly not something that I am interested in pursuing any further. I've shared with you all that needs to be said.

regards,

Arturo Beéche

I feel it is important, because some of us had been asking if Penny had changed her views on the validity of the bones and the DNA as bear and Simon claim. IMO, if she was still touting them as possibly corrupt or invalid as recently as October, even after the Ekaterinburg discoveries  of the summer, that would make a great deal of difference.

One more thing, and I'll shut up. I feel horribly cheated by how this thread, and the 'bumped' one have turned out. When the original author's obligation thread was deleted, we were told we would be able to reproduce it if we could with all the same info. Since then, many have jumped in to do their best to stop this from happening and seem to have succeeded.

I have really HAD IT with the allegations that we are somehow in league with Penny and Greg and suppressing discussion etc etc etc. LOOK, Penny/Greg and Bob/I have long ago put aside our differences, and while we may have disagreements on the historical side of things, we consider ourselves friends and colleagues. I certainly don't believe after many telephone conversations with Penny that there was any "agenda" or deliberate attempt to deceive.  They simply wrote what they thought from reading the evidence. I don't agree with it all, and some of it was in error after publication. Well, ok.  As for FOTR, to be blunt, aside from Annie, Helen A. and maybe one or two other people, nobody CARES anymore. I'm sick and tired, personally, of the continued rehashing ad nauseum of the same things over and over.  I see no reason for any personal witch hunt against Penny and Greg or speculation as to motives.  There is frankly no point nor reason to do so.

NOW, they have indeed acknowledged errors made it into print, SO, there is indeed reason to discuss the content, to set any questions straight
 about what they wrote.   I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 03:44:34 PM
Rob, I didn't mean you or Bob! I know better than that! I meant several other posters who jumped in to try to prevent the discussion from reforming before it ever even got started (and of course the one mod who got rid of it in the first place) I realize the pressure from all of these may have made you change your mind. But believe me I do NOT think you or Bob are in league with Penny.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 03:46:17 PM
I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.

I'm not going to get too far with "ChatNoir", am I?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Belochka on February 28, 2008, 05:51:07 PM
[

I do not consider that sacrificing the presentation of specific strands of argument to space constraints is in any way the same thing as sacrificing integrity or responsibility, so long as the author remains true to their OWN conclusions (regardless of how fully presented the arguments leading to theose conclusions may be) and is prepared to answer questions relating to gaps or additional information for interested colleagues or readers.


What about the real life scenario, as evidenced by FOTR as we know know, where, by your own admission Janet, the PUBLISHER was responsible for resulting errors and in fact presenting material contrary to the author's conclusions? Who then should bear the responsiblilty?

I did not say that the publisher presented evidence contrary to their conclusions. The publisher asked for stylistic changes and cuts; it was the argument that was sacrificed rather than the conclusions.

Indeed the term "stylistic changes and cuts" are rather concerning. The chain of reasoning is sacrificed. One therefore cannot provide noteworthy conclusions or advance an idea and hope for the best.  
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 28, 2008, 05:55:36 PM
Belochka --

I wonder if you'd be willing/able to recreate the list of authors' obligations you posted near the beginning of the original thread on this topic? As I recall, it contained a number of good points for discussion.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 06:07:41 PM
Wow, Belochka, who are we playing, the New England Patriots? There's some real cheating going on here. Every time the discussion gets informative and we're really making progress, poof all the posts disappear! I'd like to ask the person who keeps deleting, WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?? The TRUTH has been revealed, right here on this forum, and somebody whacks away at all our progress like chopping up a flowering tree. This thread has been pruned so severely our great discovery and all its references were hidden like a skeleton in the closet. Before anyone deletes this- WHY the coverup?

I was smart, this time, and saved the evidence in print screen;)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 06:12:49 PM
Annie,

I have no idea what you are talking about. I took the dogs for a walk and was in the front garden for a while.  So I was away from here before Belochka posted. WHAT posts were removed? It was not by me. Please email or PM me if you saved posts that were deleted, am just curious.

Thanks.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Belochka on February 28, 2008, 06:16:34 PM
Belochka --

I wonder if you'd be willing/able to recreate the list of authors' obligations you posted near the beginning of the original thread on this topic? As I recall, it contained a number of good points for discussion.

It would have been better that the original thread was not deleted in its entirety. Regretably many outstanding posting by others have been lost and cannot be replicated to reflect spontaneous  thoughts.  
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on February 28, 2008, 06:22:32 PM
I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.

I'm not going to get too far with "ChatNoir", am I?

Better YOU than me.  ;D
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 28, 2008, 07:30:39 PM
I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.

I'm not going to get too far with "ChatNoir", am I?

Better YOU than me.  ;D

NOOOO!  :'(
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 29, 2008, 10:03:03 AM
Back to general discussion. For me it all comes down to this re errors: the author has an obligation at a minimum, to address the errors, somehow, someway, and state for the record whether the errors resulted from poor editing or from misinterpretation of the facts. Then they should be obliged to fix those errors or acknowledge why they can't be fixed. Readers will either be satisfied with the author's response or they won't. If they're satisfied and like the book enough perhaps they'll move on to more of the writer's works. If those readers remain unsatisfied they can write their own rebuttals and look for avenues (letters to the editor, reviews at Amazon, postings on a message board or a willing publisher) to get their rebuttals out there. Or simply hold on to their dollars to ensure the author doesn't receive one more thin dime from them. Or shut up and move on because to a great extent any publicity is good publicity.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 10:35:14 AM
There's been a lot of talk about "agendas" around here lately, so why don't we kick it around a little bit?

Open questions:
What's the difference between an agenda and an opinion?

Is it ever appropriate for an author to display an agenda or opinion?

Does it make a difference if the work is fiction or non-fiction?

If you think there are appropriate instances, how do you think a authors should ethically and responsibly write about their views?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 29, 2008, 10:39:01 AM
Difference between an opinion and an agenda- an agenda is a goal, a cause, possibly financial, a longterm series of things leading up to a final success or failure. I can't really say what I think the agenda is or it will get deleted, but it's very  different from a random opinion.


The difference between fiction and nonfiction is obviously that nonfiction is supposed to be complete truth without speculation presented as truth (everyone speculates and offers their own views, it's only when this is presented in a way as to make it appear as part of the truth that it becomes a problem)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 10:41:25 AM
I'm sorry that you feel "cheated" Annie, but then again, you have your OWN website and Forum, so by all means take any discussion you want to over there in your own place.

I'm not going to get too far with "ChatNoir", am I?

Better YOU than me.  ;D

NOOOO!  :'(

LOL
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 10:53:15 AM
The difference between fiction and nonfiction is obviously that nonfiction is supposed to be complete truth without speculation presented as truth (everyone speculates and offers their own views, it's only when this is presented in a way as to make it appear as part of the truth that it becomes a problem)

To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books. And fiction writers, even historical fiction, don't have as much responsibility to stick to facts as do non-fiction writers. It's whole different game with non-fiction authors. They shouldn't have the leeway to distort history according to their agenda, and should not present speculation as fact, and should not use selected sources in order to push forward any personal agenda, whether financial or otherwise...  Unfortunately this happens much too often....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 10:54:34 AM
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Does it have more to do with how thorough an author's examination of a topic is, or how balanced?

For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 29, 2008, 10:58:30 AM
It's whole different game with non-fiction authors. They shouldn't have the leeway to distort history according to their agenda, and should not present speculation as fact, and should not use selected sources in order to push forward any personal agenda, whether financial or otherwise...  Unfortunately this happens much too often....

Yes, it does. What I don't like to see is when it appears that an author may be advancing an agenda that may not even really be their opinion in the name of carrying on a cause, or not letting a 'cash cow' die out.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 29, 2008, 11:03:54 AM
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Does it have more to do with how thorough an author's examination of a topic is, or how balanced?

For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?



I would say complete truth is the verfied facts to the best of your ability, not slanting them or using misleading phrasing to change the meaning of what a real source said, just so you can use it as a source in your footnotes. For example, in the AA wikipedia article, one of the contributors claimed that facial examinations on a 1994 BBC TV special proved 'with certainty' that AA was AN. Actually, the program was NOVA, and while the ear examinations did show a good match, no one said it made her AN. Also, the facial examinations, by Geoffrey Oxlee, concluded that AA and FS were one in the same. The writer used Kurth's "Tsar" book discussing the show as a source, and for awhile it stood, until another poster and I proved that the information was not only misleading but completely false.

I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 11:13:04 AM
I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

I agree.

However, if only one side of an issue is presented, does that qualify as the complete truth?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Raegan on February 29, 2008, 11:16:15 AM
The fact of the matter is, that until the deepest recess of GARF is opened and the events of the journey of the Imperial children on the 'Rus' is released and fully and professionally sourced - if indeed it exists - NOBODY knows what happened on that river journey.   
Please show some sensitivity.

All of the material in GARF that relates to Nicholas II and his family are open to researchers and have been for years now.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 29, 2008, 11:16:33 AM
I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

I agree.

However, if only one side of an issue is presented, does that qualify as the complete truth?

It depends on the subject matter and what needs to be said. It can be the complete truth for one side, as long as this doesn't mean that it's assumed there is no other side. In the case of my website, I knew there were dozens of websites and articles online alleging AA to be AN, but few telling the other side. I wanted to present the story from the point of view that was was 100% NOT AN and this is why I feel this way. I tried to bring up things that people who knew the story may not have seen before, or may not have considered. I am assuming that most people who read it will have already seen the other side and take mine as a rebuttal. As for books, it would have to go by subject matter and other factors. I can't generalize it all.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on February 29, 2008, 11:17:45 AM
That is just the problem, Annie. Once a book is published, there are rarely reprints.  Especially now, as it is very costly and publishers are only going to do extra editions if they are selling J.K. Rawlings or Dan Brown, Stephen King, etc. Sometimes, if a book goes to paperback, the opportunity  to correct is available, but even that is pretty rare with non-fiction. For most authors on Romanov related topics, it is a one-shot deal. I must have close to 1,000 books on the Romanovs and related topcs here, and each and every one has some sort of mistake. Wheter it be text, picture captions, or a missing or wrong entry on a genealogical chart.

I think Robert and I have had experience in publishing so why aren't you paying attention to those who have had these experiences.   Stuff happens.  It's done.  Unless the publisher finds the need to change it,  FATE OF THE ROMANOVS will be reprinted as it is.  Will King and Wilson do things differently with their future book deals?   I'm sure they have and will because, now, they have experience and contracts will be worded differently.  Will this prevent errors from occurring in future books.  No.  Authors and publishers are human and are not perfect.

Helen and Annie,
Life is what it is.
Let it go.
Life is too short to be so negative.
Find something positive to do today, tomorrow, next week.
Do something nice for someone, it'll brighten your life.  

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 11:19:54 AM
To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books.

This is a sticky issue with me. I find it endlessly tacky and irritating when authors rearrange and contradict history to make the story "more interesting" (ie. make more money).

Of course, fiction is by definition a made-up story. But I bristle at the idea that fiction authors -- in particular authors of historical fiction -- should bear no responsibility for accuracy simply because their stories are made up. If I make up an inaccurate story about someone who's still living and publish it as fiction, there's going to be trouble. Words like slander and libel are going to get tossed around, even if my story is "just fiction." But if I write something fictional yet inaccurate about a dead person, there's no comparable repercussions. That rubs me the wrong way. Just because someone's dead, they're fair game? The dead are no longer entitled to accurate representation? IMO, fiction shouldn't be synonymous with b.s.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 11:23:39 AM
For example, would you regard as more true: a complete examination of just one side of a case, or a balanced yet less in-depth discussion of both sides?

I'd also be interested to know which of the above anyone would choose as the more useful/valuable resource.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 29, 2008, 11:27:47 AM
Helen and Annie,
Life is what it is.
Let it go.
Life is too short to be so negative.
Find something positive to do today, tomorrow, next week.
Do something nice for someone, it'll brighten your life.  

AGRBear

Not addressed to me, I know, but please don't assume Helen and Annie are not brightening their lives or passing on random acts of kindness in between posts. You may very well find the subject matter trivial and that's cool, but for me WORDS ARE LIFE so I am glad to read along as Helen, Annie and Sarushka hash it out...and with civility no less!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 11:29:50 AM
To add to this, - in fiction the author has a lot more leeway to do this. For example, I loath what Phillippa Gregory does to history, however I also realize that her books are fiction and technically she has every right to make things up even if she does have an agenda - i.e. to sell more books.

This is a sticky issue with me. I find it endlessly tacky and irritating when authors rearrange and contradict history to make the story "more interesting" (ie. make more money).

Of course, fiction is by definition a made-up story. But I bristle at the idea that fiction authors -- in particular authors of historical fiction -- should bear no responsibility for accuracy simply because their stories are made up. If I make up an inaccurate story about someone who's still living and publish it as fiction, there's going to be trouble. Words like slander and libel are going to get tossed around, even if my story is "just fiction." But if I write something fictional yet inaccurate about a dead person, there's no comparable repercussions. That rubs me the wrong way. Just because someone's dead, they're fair game? The dead are no longer entitled to accurate representation? IMO, fiction shouldn't be synonymous with b.s.

Oh, I agree with you. If it were up to me, all the historical fiction would be as accurate as possible. But at the same time I must allow that as long as it is called "fiction" and not "non-fiction" the author should have more leeway that the non-fiction author...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on February 29, 2008, 11:32:11 AM
But at the same time I must allow that as long as it is called "fiction" and not "non-fiction" the author should have more leeway that the non-fiction author...

Certainly. But how much is too much...?


Jenn: Bolshoi spaseeba.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 11:39:22 AM
But at the same time I must allow that as long as it is called "fiction" and not "non-fiction" the author should have more leeway that the non-fiction author...

Certainly. But how much is too much...?


Well, this is why the non-fiction is so much more cut and dry. No inaccuracies should be allowed and it is the authors' responsibility to make sure that the editors (or whatever)  don't screw up. Because after all, their names are on it, which means they are responsible for what ultimately appears in print under their name... And they are the ones who will receive criticism for what was written because this information is credited to them.

With fiction it's hard to say where to draw the line. I suppose it's more subjective. Since I mentioned Philippa Gregory, let's take her as an example. There are readers who love her and find her books entertaining. And you know what, I can see how someone would find them entertaining... And then again, there are readers like myself who find her irritating because of all the blatant inaccuracies in her "historical" novels... But she doesn't claim that her books are historically accurate (as far as I know?). So it is up the reader to either accept it as fiction or accept that it may not necessarily be accurate because it is a novel after all... It's much harder to set up a criteria for non-fiction...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 11:50:24 AM
Helen and Annie,
Life is what it is.
Let it go.
Life is too short to be so negative.
Find something positive to do today, tomorrow, next week.
Do something nice for someone, it'll brighten your life.  

AGRBear

Not addressed to me, I know, but please don't assume Helen and Annie are not brightening their lives or passing on random acts of kindness in between posts. You may very well find the subject matter trivial and that's cool, but for me WORDS ARE LIFE so I am glad to read along as Helen, Annie and Sarushka hash it out...and with civility no less!

Thanks, Jenn, point well made. AGR, if this discussion is not to your liking, you are free not to participate... :-)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on February 29, 2008, 12:30:13 PM

Of course, fiction is by definition a made-up story.

This is why no nonfiction should ever have any 'made up stories' in it, even if they are more interesting than what really happened. Changing a word here and there can change the meaning of a story, such as, someone was left in peace, or was not. IMO, if the changes distort the view of what actually happened, then what that part of the book becomes is a 'made up story.'
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 29, 2008, 12:45:43 PM
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

I'm showing both my age and musical tastes, but whenever the definition of truth comes up I hear Pontius Pilate singing to Jesus: "And what is truth? Is it unchanging law? We both have truths. Are mine the same as yours?" (Jesus Christ Superstar). Love that song!

A couple of pages were devoted to truth in the original thread with respect to Kurth and the chasm between philosophical, scientific and personal truths. How do you define truth, Sarushka? Is the author obliged to spell out their definition before proceeding with the work in question?

Thanks, Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 12:53:23 PM
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Well, technically speaking, only hard science - like DNA - can offer the "complete truth" as such. And it has many times over. ;-)

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 29, 2008, 12:56:41 PM

I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

Well said, Annie! There's nothing inherently evil about promoting one's side of an argument and not addressing the other side, but the book and the debate both flow more smoothly when opposing positions are also spelled out. Now if law or censorship prevents opposition, then you're in dangerous, Joseph Goebbels territory.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on February 29, 2008, 12:57:42 PM

I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

Well said, Annie! There's nothing inherently evil about promoting one's side of an argument and not addressing the other side, but the book and the debate both flow more smoothly when opposing positions are also spelled out. Now if law or censorship prevent opposition, then you're in dangerous, Joseph Goebbels territory.

Well said both of you!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on February 29, 2008, 01:03:04 PM
What then constitutes the "complete truth"?

Well, technically speaking, only hard science - like DNA - can offer the "complete truth" as such. And it has many times over. ;-)



St. Joan, er, Helen, please do not muddy up this thread with your tiresome recitation of cold hard facts.  ;)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 08:53:22 AM
Here is a timely news appropriate for this thread:  http://news.aol.com/story/_a/writer-admits-holocaust-memoir-is-fake/20080229161609990001?ncid=NWS00010000000001 and http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/books/02/29/holocaust.bookhoax.ap/index.html



Author: My best-selling Holocaust book is a hoax.

Story Highlights Misha Defonseca's book, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," false. Defonseca maintained Nazis took parents, she was adopted by wolves. Author not Jewish, actually lived with relatives after parents' arrest.
   
BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- A Belgian writer has admitted that she made up her best-selling "memoir" depicting how, as a Jewish child, she lived with a pack of wolves in the woods during the Holocaust, her lawyers said Friday.


Misha Defonseca's book, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," has been made into a French film.

 Misha Defonseca's book, "Misha: A Memoire of the Holocaust Years," was translated into 18 languages and made into a feature film in France.

Her two Brussels-based lawyers, siblings Nathalie and Marc Uyttendaele, said the author acknowledged her story was not autobiographical and that she did not trek 1,900 miles as a child across Europe with a pack of wolves in search of her deported parents during World War II.

"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed," Defonseca said, according to a written statement the lawyers gave to The Associated Press.

Defonseca, 71, now lives in Dudley, Massachusetts. Her husband, Maurice, told The Boston Globe on Thursday that she would not comment.

Defonseca wrote in her book that Nazis seized her parents when she was a child, forcing her to wander the forests and villages of Europe alone for four years. She claimed she found herself trapped in the Warsaw ghetto, killed a Nazi soldier in self-defense and was adopted by a pack of wolves that protected her.

In the statement, Defonseca acknowledged the story she wrote was a fantasy and that she never fled her home in Brussels during the war to find her parents.

Defonseca says her real name is Monique De Wael and that her parents were arrested and killed by Nazis as Belgian resistance fighters, the statement said.

"This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving," the statement said.

"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a 4-year-old girl who was very lost," the statement said.

The statement said her parents were arrested when she was 4 and she was taken care of by her grandfather and uncle. She said she was poorly treated by her adopted family, called a "daughter of a traitor" because of her parents' role in the resistance, which she said led her to "feel Jewish."

She said there were moments when she "found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination."

Nathalie Uyttendaele said she and her brother contacted the author last weekend to show her material discovered by Belgian daily Le Soir, which questioned her story.

"We gave her this information and it was very difficult. She was confronted with a reality that is different from what she has been living for 70 years," Nathalie Uyttendaele said.

Pressure on the author to defend the accuracy of her book had grown in recent weeks.

"I'm not an expert on relations between humans and wolves but I am a specialist of the persecution of Jews and they (Defonseca's family) can't be found in the archives," Belgian historian Maxime Steinberg told RTL television. "The De Wael family is not Jewish nor were they registered as Jewish."

Defonseca had been asked to write the book by U.S. publisher Jane Daniel in the 1990s, after Daniel heard the writer tell the story in a Massachusetts synagogue.

Daniel and Defonseca fell out over profits received from the best-selling book, which led to a lawsuit. In 2005, a Boston court ordered Daniel to pay Defonseca and her ghost writer Vera Lee $22.5 million.

Lee, of Newton, Massachusetts, said she was shocked to hear Defonseca made up the story.

"She always maintained that this was truth as she recalled it, and I trusted that that was the case," Lee said.

Defonseca's lawyers said Daniel has not yet paid the court-ordered sum.

Daniel said Friday she would try to get the judgment overturned. She said she could not fully research Defonseca's story before it was published because the woman claimed she did not know her parents' names, her birthday or where she was born.

"There was nothing to go on to research," she said.[/i]

_____________________________________________________________________________


Any thoughts on this?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 09:42:39 AM
Along the same lines as James Frye, but more dangerous, IMO, because this kind of thing gives more ammunition to those who deny the Holocaust... Very irresponsible of this author, IMO. 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 10:00:43 AM
Along the same lines as James Frye, but more dangerous, IMO, because this kind of thing gives more ammunition to those who deny the Holocaust... Very irresponsible of this author, IMO. 

Oh yes Helen, this looks very very bad. Some subjects, like the Holocaust and genocide anywhere, are sacred in my opinion. There should be zero embellishment and zero mitigation by any author because of the nature of the subject. I mean my God, what's to embellish or invent when you have babies being tossed in alive in ovens? (and yes, this actually did happen).

Utterly utterly disgusting whether this lady did it for money or attention.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 10:03:19 AM


"This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving," the statement said.

"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a 4-year-old girl who was very lost," the statement said.

The statement said her parents were arrested when she was 4 and she was taken care of by her grandfather and uncle. She said she was poorly treated by her adopted family, called a "daughter of a traitor" because of her parents' role in the resistance, which she said led her to "feel Jewish."

She said there were moments when she "found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination."


If the dates had been a bit different then I could say with some confidence that AA's missing child has been found. Uncanny parallels.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 10:59:13 AM


"This story is mine. It is not actually reality, but my reality, my way of surviving," the statement said.

"I ask forgiveness to all who felt betrayed. I beg you to put yourself in my place, of a 4-year-old girl who was very lost," the statement said.

The statement said her parents were arrested when she was 4 and she was taken care of by her grandfather and uncle. She said she was poorly treated by her adopted family, called a "daughter of a traitor" because of her parents' role in the resistance, which she said led her to "feel Jewish."

She said there were moments when she "found it difficult to differentiate between what was real and what was part of my imagination."


If the dates had been a bit different then I could say with some confidence that AA's missing child has been found. Uncanny parallels.

LOL
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 01, 2008, 11:08:30 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 11:16:45 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 11:21:53 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....

Absolutely! I think the Internet has changed a lot of that, and it is now a lot more difficult for authors of non-fiction to get away with unethical practices. FOTR is a good example of precisely that, the readers were able to communicate with each other and share information and this is how misinformation in the book was revealed. I personally would probably never have bothered to check up on the sources if it wasn't for other readers pointing out the errors, and so I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 01, 2008, 11:34:21 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....

Absolutely! I think the Internet has changed a lot of that, and it is now a lot more difficult for authors of non-fiction to get away with unethical practices. FOTR is a good example of precisely that, the readers were able to communicate with each other and share information and this is how misinformation in the book was revealed. I personally would probably never have bothered to check up on the sources if it wasn't for other readers pointing out the errors, and so I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.

Yawn. After all the personal messages I have received, I have a pretty good idea what readers REALLY think of FOTR and the endless, circling, Sisyphean drag of the campaign you three have waged.....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 11:40:59 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....


Absolutely! I think the Internet has changed a lot of that, and it is now a lot more difficult for authors of non-fiction to get away with unethical practices. FOTR is a good example of precisely that, the readers were able to communicate with each other and share information and this is how misinformation in the book was revealed. I personally would probably never have bothered to check up on the sources if it wasn't for other readers pointing out the errors, and so I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.

Yawn. After all the personal messages I have received, I have a pretty good idea what readers REALLY think of FOTR and the endless, circling, Sisyphean drag of the campaign you three have waged.....

Good to see that you are still vigilant, Janet A ;-). But if you and your mysterious email corresponders are bored with this subject, all are free to remove the email alert to this thread and let others who are still interested discuss it.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 11:58:30 AM

Good to see that you are still vigilant, Janet A ;-). But if you and your mysterious email corresponders are bored with this subject, you are free to remove your email alert to this thread and let others who are interested discuss it.

Please, can anyone tell me if a statute of limitations exists beyond which point a book can no longer be discussed? One year? Five years? A millenium? Do I need to lock up the Bible, Shakespeare and Fate of the Romanovs in a safe somewhere?

And Helen, Annie and I have never met, wouldn't recognize each other on the street. We aren't Cerberus, you know.


Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 01, 2008, 12:05:14 PM


And Helen, Annie and I have never met, wouldn't recognize each other on the street. We aren't Cerberus, you know.




This is very true. Is it us three, Margarita must be in there somewhere, or does that make four? Am I one for sure?

Janet, it's been made plainly obvious that there were mistakes in FOTR. Do you only still deny this and make more 'grasping at straws' excuses than an AA supporter, and want everyone to shut up because the writers are your friends? As someone obviously interested in Russian history, don't you, for the sake of history and all those to come, think that correct information is more important than any one or two people, even if you know them?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 01, 2008, 01:06:28 PM
FOTR has it's own thread now, why are you still dragging it out on this one?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 01:22:25 PM
FOTR has it's own thread now, why are you still dragging it out on this one?

Ask Janet Ashton ;-) Apparently no one is allowed to mention FOTR even as an approrpriate example on this thread without someone jumping down our throats and starting the bickering again...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 02:04:00 PM
FOTR has it's own thread now, why are you still dragging it out on this one?

Thanks for the reminder. Anyone please feel free to change Fate of the Romanovs to Nicholas and Alexandra in my last post. I was speaking in generalities.

Sarushka, maybe you overlooked my question. I'm curious to know how you're viewing truth for the purpose of this thread.

Thanks, Jenn
 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 01, 2008, 02:28:55 PM
I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.

This is what everyone should be able to do with any nonfiction book.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 01, 2008, 03:16:13 PM


And Helen, Annie and I have never met, wouldn't recognize each other on the street. We aren't Cerberus, you know.




This is very true. Is it us three, Margarita must be in there somewhere, or does that make four? Am I one for sure?

Janet, it's been made plainly obvious that there were mistakes in FOTR. Do you only still deny this and make more 'grasping at straws' excuses than an AA supporter, and want everyone to shut up because the writers are your friends? As someone obviously interested in Russian history, don't you, for the sake of history and all those to come, think that correct information is more important than any one or two people, even if you know them?

For the record, I have had no direct personal contact with Penny Wilson in three years. Different people, different lives. Nor have I ever stated that FOTR does not contain errors. Nor, in my wildest dreams, would there ever be the remotest possibility of shutting you up......or even of getting you through a post wthout mentioning Anna Anderson.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 01, 2008, 03:18:28 PM

Good to see that you are still vigilant, Janet A ;-). But if you and your mysterious email corresponders are bored with this subject, you are free to remove your email alert to this thread and let others who are interested discuss it.

And Helen, Annie and I have never met, wouldn't recognize each other on the street. We aren't Cerberus, you know.




Wasn't referring to you. My dear, don't give yourself airs.....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 01, 2008, 03:42:56 PM
Okay, moving right along...

Sarushka, maybe you overlooked my question. I'm curious to know how you're viewing truth for the purpose of this thread.

I would like to know what Sarah's take on this is too.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on March 01, 2008, 03:52:22 PM
Sarushka, maybe you overlooked my question. I'm curious to know how you're viewing truth for the purpose of this thread.


Thanks for the reminder. I've been thinking about this, and I'm having a bugger of a time coming up with a concise answer. Historical truth is a lot trickier to nail down than mathematic or scientific truth. Sure, there are facts, but there's a lot more to history than just names and dates. Point of view so often comes into play. If you ask two people -- let's say Alexandra Feodorovna and Alexander Kerensky for the sake of example -- to tell you the "facts" about the Russian revolution, you're likely to get wildly different answers, yet neither one of them would be lying. Events are so much more subjective, which is part of why I think balance is an important aspect of conveying history accurately.

This reminds me of a Russian saying: The truth is found between two lies.

More musings as they occur to me...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 01, 2008, 04:02:52 PM
to tell you the "facts" about the Russian revolution, you're likely to get wildly different answers, yet neither one of them would be lying. Events are so much more subjective, which is part of why I think balance is an important aspect of conveying history accurately.

This reminds me of a Russian saying: The truth is found between two lies.



I see what you're trying to say but in this case, they can't both be right. Either the Grand Duchesses were left in peace, or they were not. There's not even an Obi-Wan Kenobi 'certain point of view' about it, just yes or no.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on March 01, 2008, 04:12:15 PM
to tell you the "facts" about the Russian revolution, you're likely to get wildly different answers, yet neither one of them would be lying. Events are so much more subjective, which is part of why I think balance is an important aspect of conveying history accurately.

This reminds me of a Russian saying: The truth is found between two lies.



I see what you're trying to say but in this case, they can't both be right. Either the Grand Duchesses were left in peace, or they were not. There's not even an Obi-Wan Kenobi 'certain point of view' about it, just yes or no.

And that's part of why that passage of FOTR is flawed: the presentation of the events on the Rus is neither complete nor balanced enough to be taken as truth.


Edited to add: However, when I read that section I don't get the impression that K&W intended that passage to be taken as truth -- only possibility. That said, the information they present is still too sketchy and contentious for me to accept the scenario of abuse as a likely possibility.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 01, 2008, 05:13:00 PM
I do not believe everything must be balanced on both sides. I believe you can choose only one side, as long as you don't change things around to suit your cause if the view presented is not what was actually stated in the original source. I also believe speculation and offering up possible scenarios are fine- lawyers do this in court all the time- BUT they need to be presented in a way that allows the reader to know that this is what it is and not confuse it with a source it didn't really come from.

I agree.

However, if only one side of an issue is presented, does that qualify as the complete truth?

If an author is to present the complete truth of some historical event,  he or she needs to respect all witnesses so he or she can hear/see/read  all sides of the story.  Example:  if there was a battle,  can the field show that 2,000 men died or 10,000?  Of course it can.  And, this is why Napoleon's figures, which he claimed to be true are, now, being revised.  Can 2 bodies be burned to ashes in 2 hours on a pile of green wet wood doused with gasoline?  No.  How do I know.  I asked the experts.  History is a collection of information.  The more information collected the more accurate a historian is. 

Can we use just DNA alone in our court of law to convict someone?  No.  Why?  There needs to be more information given.  Remember,  I'm surrounded by lawyers who know about such things.

According to Annie,  all the history books found with errors should be thrown into the garbage.  That would mean that everything from the Bible, Shakespear to the QUEST FOR ANASTASIA  by Kleir and Wingay to your local newspaper  woud end up in the garbage next to Annie.  I don't think so, Annie.  Human's are not perfect.  They makes errors ALL the time and in many ways,  as in writing words for a book, editing words for a book, etc. etc. etc.

Like I've said here and over on the FATE OF THE ROMANOVS by King and Wilson is:  Errors happen.  That's life.  Get over it.

If the errors, say in Stuart Kahan's book THE WOLF OF THE KREMLIN are written for the purpose of spreading anti-Jewish proganda, then that's a different ball of wax, and,  so if this is the case, then I agree with Helen's generalization that such books should be subjected to a great deal of attention to prove it is anti-Jewish instead of just the biography of L. M. Kaganovich.
 

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 05:45:50 PM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....

Absolutely! I think the Internet has changed a lot of that, and it is now a lot more difficult for authors of non-fiction to get away with unethical practices. FOTR is a good example of precisely that, the readers were able to communicate with each other and share information and this is how misinformation in the book was revealed. I personally would probably never have bothered to check up on the sources if it wasn't for other readers pointing out the errors, and so I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.

Yawn. After all the personal messages I have received, I have a pretty good idea what readers REALLY think of FOTR and the endless, circling, Sisyphean drag of the campaign you three have waged.....

Airs, Janet? Please pay closer attention when you respond to postings from  three different users and then say "you three." I have no quarrel with you and, in fact, have thanked you for your help on several occasions. Please don't treat me rudely.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 05:49:36 PM
Sarushka, maybe you overlooked my question. I'm curious to know how you're viewing truth for the purpose of this thread.


Thanks for the reminder. I've been thinking about this, and I'm having a bugger of a time coming up with a concise answer. Historical truth is a lot trickier to nail down than mathematic or scientific truth. Sure, there are facts, but there's a lot more to history than just names and dates. Point of view so often comes into play. If you ask two people -- let's say Alexandra Feodorovna and Alexander Kerensky for the sake of example -- to tell you the "facts" about the Russian revolution, you're likely to get wildly different answers, yet neither one of them would be lying. Events are so much more subjective, which is part of why I think balance is an important aspect of conveying history accurately.

This reminds me of a Russian saying: The truth is found between two lies.

More musings as they occur to me...

Beautifully said, Sarushka! Your example of Alexandra and Kerensky is right on the money.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 05:55:22 PM

If an author is to present the complete truth of some historical event,  he or she needs to respect all witnesses so he or she can hear/see/read  all sides of the story.  Example:  if there was a battle,  can the field show that 2,000 men died or 10,000?  Of course it can.  And, this is why Napoleon's figures, which he claimed to be true are, now, being revised.  Can 2 bodies be burned to ashes in 2 hours on a pile of green wet wood doused with gasoline?  No.  How do I know.  I asked the experts.  History is a collection of information.  The more information collected the more accurate a historian is. 


AGRBear

Respect is an unusual choice of words re witnesses. All witnesses are not created equal. And expert witnesses are occasionally the most suspect of all.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 06:01:37 PM

Can we use just DNA alone in our court of law to convict someone?  No.  Why?  There needs to be more information given.  Remember,  I'm surrounded by lawyers who know about such things.


AGRBear

Please feel free to correct me since I'm not a lawyer, but can't a jury vote to convict or acquit regardless of evidence? Generally the public won't know if they made their decision based on one piece of evidence or a hundred.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 01, 2008, 06:12:51 PM
Not exactly sure what you mean,  Puppylove.  If you are asking if the jury person has to tell anyone why he or she voted guilty or not guilty, the answer is,  "No."

But what I was saying is,  if a lawyer  presents his/her case and uses DNA,  they just don't say,  "Here is the DNA," and then add nothing more.  Why?  More evidence is needed to back up  the DNA."

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 01, 2008, 06:35:27 PM

If an author is to present the complete truth of some historical event,  he or she needs to respect all witnesses so he or she can hear/see/read  all sides of the story.  Example:  if there was a battle,  can the field show that 2,000 men died or 10,000?  Of course it can.  And, this is why Napoleon's figures, which he claimed to be true are, now, being revised.  Can 2 bodies be burned to ashes in 2 hours on a pile of green wet wood doused with gasoline?  No.  How do I know.  I asked the experts.  History is a collection of information.  The more information collected the more accurate a historian is. 


AGRBear

Respect is an unusual choice of words re witnesses. All witnesses are not created equal. And expert witnesses are occasionally the most suspect of all.

Do you mean a person should only interview the Bolsheviks and not interview their victims or interview just the victims and not the Bolsheviks?

Like someone said,  the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and,  it's up to the historican to find out where the middle is.  An historian can't find out where the middle is if you don't talk to everyone (good, bad, the ugly and everyone inbetween) invovled.

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 01, 2008, 08:49:16 PM

If an author is to present the complete truth of some historical event,  he or she needs to respect all witnesses so he or she can hear/see/read  all sides of the story.  Example:  if there was a battle,  can the field show that 2,000 men died or 10,000?  Of course it can.  And, this is why Napoleon's figures, which he claimed to be true are, now, being revised.  Can 2 bodies be burned to ashes in 2 hours on a pile of green wet wood doused with gasoline?  No.  How do I know.  I asked the experts.  History is a collection of information.  The more information collected the more accurate a historian is. 


AGRBear

Respect is an unusual choice of words re witnesses. All witnesses are not created equal. And expert witnesses are occasionally the most suspect of all.

Do you mean a person should only interview the Bolsheviks and not interview their victims or interview just the victims and not the Bolsheviks?

Like someone said,  the truth lies somewhere in the middle, and,  it's up to the historican to find out where the middle is.  An historian can't find out where the middle is if you don't talk to everyone (good, bad, the ugly and everyone inbetween) invovled.

AGRBear


No Bear, I agree with you, the more knowledge the better. I meant only that all witnesses are not created equal; just because someone is called as a witness does not validate their testimony. What they do testify to may carry great weight with a jury, or none at all (see Mark Furman).
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 01, 2008, 09:30:31 PM

No Bear, I agree with you, the more knowledge the better. I meant only that all witnesses are not created equal; just because someone is called as a witness does not validate their testimony.

This is something I have been trying to get through to bear for years. Just because something is 'testimony' does not necessarily make it a 'fact'. Bear, and some others, think that if they can put a page number to someone's quote, it's a 'fact', but the very subject matter we have been discussing proves this isn't so. It may be a 'fact' that someone said something and you can quote it, but that doesn't automatically make what they said a 'fact' itself (such as the list of 'facts' AA supporters like to dredge up of he said/she said that are really only pieces of potential evidence for possible consideration or dismissal, not 'facts').

For example: The foreman at FS's factory job said he thought FS was 'about 5'4". This is a 'fact' that he said it, but it does not make it a fact that she was actually 5'4". He could have been mistaken, lying, or remembering wrong. This is why labeling all testimony 'fact' can be misleading.

 In every court case, half of those who testify turn out to have been either lying, or wrong.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 02, 2008, 02:55:58 AM
It's very disturbing to me to see so much fiction presented as fact, and plagerism, being exposed in books and articles, even prize winning writings, the last few years. Has it always been done and the writers were just never caught, or has there been a big decline in integrity and honor in writing and reporting in the last decade?

Good question! I suppose it's probably always been done, but technology has made it much easier to root out offenders. Kind of a new age "checks and balances." Because of this, authors who value their reputations should proceed very carefully....

Absolutely! I think the Internet has changed a lot of that, and it is now a lot more difficult for authors of non-fiction to get away with unethical practices. FOTR is a good example of precisely that, the readers were able to communicate with each other and share information and this is how misinformation in the book was revealed. I personally would probably never have bothered to check up on the sources if it wasn't for other readers pointing out the errors, and so I would have just accepted the information in the book as correct and would never have known about the misinformation/mistakes.

Yawn. After all the personal messages I have received, I have a pretty good idea what readers REALLY think of FOTR and the endless, circling, Sisyphean drag of the campaign you three have waged.....

Airs, Janet? Please pay closer attention when you respond to postings from  three different users and then say "you three." I have no quarrel with you and, in fact, have thanked you for your help on several occasions. Please don't treat me rudely.

Jenn

Sorry Jenn - my tongue WAS in my cheek (though you DID call me "high-minded :-) ). I think people who are aware of the history of this will know who I am needling. Your Bible analogy elsewhere was quite apt, for in 2000 years the same three will indeed be here on this forum going round and round the same topics....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 02, 2008, 10:33:29 AM

Sorry Jenn - my tongue WAS in my cheek (though you DID call me "high-minded :-) ).

Thank you, Janet. I've read the book twice, but most of the debate goes over my head; because of this I am trying to limit my comments to generalities. To clear the record, "high-minded" was directed at those who bump a thread only to remind us how they are intellectually above the discussion; to me that's just a wasted bump.

I also enjoy cool references like "Sysiphean drag," even though it is just a cheap shot in a prom dress!  :)

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 02, 2008, 05:30:06 PM

No Bear, I agree with you, the more knowledge the better. I meant only that all witnesses are not created equal; just because someone is called as a witness does not validate their testimony.

This is something I have been trying to get through to bear for years. Just because something is 'testimony' does not necessarily make it a 'fact'. Bear, and some others, think that if they can put a page number to someone's quote, it's a 'fact', but the very subject matter we have been discussing proves this isn't so. It may be a 'fact' that someone said something and you can quote it, but that doesn't automatically make what they said a 'fact' itself (such as the list of 'facts' AA supporters like to dredge up of he said/she said that are really only pieces of potential evidence for possible consideration or dismissal, not 'facts').

For example: The foreman at FS's factory job said he thought FS was 'about 5'4". This is a 'fact' that he said it, but it does not make it a fact that she was actually 5'4". He could have been mistaken, lying, or remembering wrong. This is why labeling all testimony 'fact' can be misleading.

 In every court case, half of those who testify turn out to have been either lying, or wrong.


Just because I suggest that all witnesses should be interviewed doesn't mean I'd believe every witness. 

 In the early stages of interviews and discovery,  I believe every witness is equal and should be heard.  After collecting as much information as one can,  you placed the testimony in various boxes:

Can be believed
Can't be believed
Not sure if believable
No evidence to back up what was said.....
Evidence backs up statement

And,  after everything is placed in it's box, only then can a historian search for  the middle road, which means the book will   provide all legitimate sides to an event. 

If there are doubts,  they too should be expressed and examples given.


Let me say this in different words with hopes I make it clearer:  Never have I said that testimony is a fact upon itself.   Testimony needs information to support it for it to become  part of a fact.  It alone can not be a fact.  Just like DNA cannot stand alone because it, also,  needs information to support it.

AGRBear

PS  Continue to have a glich in posting.  Sorry.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 02, 2008, 08:24:11 PM

Just because I suggest that all witnesses should be interviewed doesn't mean I'd believe every witness. 

 In the early stages of interviews and discovery,  I believe every witness is equal and should be heard.  After collecting as much information as one can,  you placed the testimony in various boxes:

Can be believed
Can't be believed
Not sure if believable
No evidence to back up what was said.....
Evidence backs up statement

And,  after everything is placed in it's box, only then can a historian search for  the middle road, which means the book will   provide all legitimate sides to an event. 

If there are doubts,  they too should be expressed and examples given.



I think I understand what you're saying, but my qualm is this: the information gathering/discovery stage you recommend might easily outlive the author. Also I really don't believe a writer needs to be balanced. I believe a writer is entitled to focus on any agenda he might choose, so long as the facts themselves aren't rewritten in the process. As others have mentioned, it's ok to present Alexandra's version of the revolution without presenting Kerensky's.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 03, 2008, 10:29:48 AM

I think I understand what you're saying, but my qualm is this: the information gathering/discovery stage you recommend might easily outlive the author. Also I really don't believe a writer needs to be balanced. I believe a writer is entitled to focus on any agenda he might choose, so long as the facts themselves aren't rewritten in the process. As others have mentioned, it's ok to present Alexandra's version of the revolution without presenting Kerensky's.

Of course,  Alexandra can have her version of the revolution without presenting Kerensky.  And Kerensky can have his version. However, if I'm writing about Russian history, not just about Alexandra or Kerensky,  then I'd need to present both of their views.  If I didn't, then I'd be cheating my readers because I didn't tell them the whole story.

Book like FATE OF THE ROMANOVS and FALL OF THE ROMANOVS are not focus on just one person and their views.

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 03, 2008, 10:44:06 AM
Eliminated my post because I placed it on the wrong thread.

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Arleen on March 03, 2008, 11:05:29 AM
THANK YOU SO MUCH SARAHUSHA!!!  We needed that.....

Doesn't anyone just read books any more for the PURE ENJOYMENT of the read? (There isn't a book printed today that a mistake cannot be found....overlook them!)

All of this fussing and fighting is too much!  One thing I've learned about the AP forum.....no one is going to change anyone's personal opinion on anything....the struggle just goes on and on once you guys start in on a subject to disagree on.  Then when some dumb person like me breaks in to say ENOUGH ALREADY I get my head chewed off, and worse.

Oh well.....carry on I guess. 
Arleen
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 03, 2008, 11:19:37 AM
Sorry Arlee,  I eliminated my post.

 So people know what I eliminated and then they'll know to what you are reffering,  I'll repost it.

I spent some time looking through a particular thread "Space Alien Intervention" which was created while I , Helen and Annie were having one of those heated discussions about AA or something.  The thread was meant to be light hearted and a little off key.  I ran across this and thought I'd share:


Quote
Sarahusha's #242 post:
Well, if we're going to get silly!

May I present...drum roll...

Super Ted, the ULTIMATE Romanov authority
(http://img48.imageshack.us/img48/9978/10035018xg.th.jpg) (http://img48.imageshack.us/my.php?image=10035018xg.jpg)


I can hardly see my keyboard through my tears of  laughter.

AGRBear


Thanks Sarsuhka for the laugh that day and, again, this morning.


AGRBear

PS  I know a lot more about the Romanovs than I did then, but,  not as much you and other posters who continue to add to our knowledge.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Arleen on March 03, 2008, 12:21:09 PM
Thanks Bear, I need all the help I can get with my computer!  I can't seem to dredge up "quotes"

Arleen
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 03, 2008, 12:40:40 PM
Bear, funny! My favorite space alien posts were when you showed a photo of your books in boxes and Annie asked if those were the boxes you thought outside of. It just about killed me!

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 03, 2008, 12:58:26 PM
Arleen, I know what you're saying. In my opinion, even if you read a book for more than fun, it should still be possible to keep discussion light-hearted. But this can be tough when all you have to go by are posted words, without the benefit of vocals and body language to interpret them. I still believe though, that the basic premise of this thread is valid: historians, their use of facts and their interpretations deserve examination.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 01:07:17 PM
Arleen, I know what you're saying. In my opinion, even if you read a book for more than fun, it should still be possible to keep discussion light-hearted. But this can be tough when all you have to go by are posted words, without the benefit of vocals and body language to interpret them. I still believe though, that the basic premise of this thread is valid: historians, their use of facts and their interpretations deserve examination.

Once upon a time these discussions could have been kept lighthearted or at least kept very civil, but since there is unsavory history there now, that's probably no longer possible or just not very easy to do... For the most part we can discuss the majority of authors and their books with no problem, it's only specific ones that make it difficult to do.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Arleen on March 03, 2008, 02:31:47 PM
I read everything even though I rarely post.  So I do understand.  But I just get tired of all the ill will.  Especially about Greg and Penny.

Sorry to butt in to your discussion.  Frankly I enjoyed FOTR.....and since NO ONE really knows what happened  on the girls/Alexi's boat journey I just passed over it and still kept my own opinions intact.....like I do with ALL Romanov books.  The only ones that I totally believe are the books of letters, those I enjoy so much! 

But I am patiently awiting Bob's book.......

Arleen
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 03, 2008, 02:47:09 PM
Arleen, I know what you're saying. In my opinion, even if you read a book for more than fun, it should still be possible to keep discussion light-hearted. But this can be tough when all you have to go by are posted words, without the benefit of vocals and body language to interpret them. I still believe though, that the basic premise of this thread is valid: historians, their use of facts and their interpretations deserve examination.

Once upon a time these discussions could have been kept lighthearted or at least kept very civil, but since there is unsavory history there now, that's probably no longer possible or just not very easy to do... For the most part we can discuss the majority of authors and their books with no problem, it's only specific ones that make it difficult to do.

There really are very few authors who come here to comment on our comments about their work. I guess most of them have other things to do and don't have time, maybe they are so pleased with their finished product it doesn't matter, or maybe they just don't want to know.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 02:47:31 PM
But I just get tired of all the ill will.  Especially about Greg and Penny.

Sorry to butt in to your discussion.  Frankly I enjoyed FOTR.....and since NO ONE really knows what happened  on the girls/Alexi's boat journey I just passed over it and still kept my own opinions intact.....like I do with ALL Romanov books. 

Hi Arleen, there is a separate thread for FOTR if you want to comment on it...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 02:50:55 PM
There really are very few authors who come here to comment on our comments about their work. I guess most of them have other things to do and don't have time, maybe they are so pleased with their finished product it doesn't matter, or maybe they just don't want to know.

Yes, this is true, which is why there are usually no problems discussing most books here. If anyone remembers on the original thread, which was deleted, one of he things I mentioned about authors' obligations was that they should be professionally receptive to criticism from the readers (which is normal) if there is any. Most authors are, but alas this is not always the case... :-(
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: edtash on March 03, 2008, 02:59:39 PM
THANK YOU SO MUCH SARAHUSHA!!!  We needed that.....

Doesn't anyone just read books any more for the PURE ENJOYMENT of the read? (There isn't a book printed today that a mistake cannot be found....overlook them!)

All of this fussing and fighting is too much!  One thing I've learned about the AP forum.....no one is going to change anyone's personal opinion on anything....the struggle just goes on and on once you guys start in on a subject to disagree on.  Then when some dumb person like me breaks in to say ENOUGH ALREADY I get my head chewed off, and worse.

Oh well.....carry on I guess. 
Arleen

I could not agree with you more!

Eddie
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 03, 2008, 03:21:29 PM
My sentment as well, Eddie and Arleen. This nonesnse has gone on far too long and is pointless now. I am sorry the threads were revived now.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 03:26:23 PM
This nonesnse has gone on far too long and is pointless now. I am sorry the threads were revived now.

Well, the reason they were revived was because they had to be deleted (we all know why), so nothing was resolved from those discussions. If they were just left alone and we were allowed to discuss them, it would have run its course and everyone would have stopped talking about this long ago... Also, it is all new to some people, even if it may be the same nonsense to the rest us...  Those who find it boring and the same old nonsense don't have to participate or even read it ;-).
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 03, 2008, 03:29:30 PM
This nonesnse has gone on far too long and is pointless now. I am sorry the threads were revived now.

Well, the reason they were revived was because they had to be deleted (we all know why), so nothing was resolved from those discussions. If they were just left alone and we were allowed to discuss them, it would have run its course and everyone would have stopped talking about this long ago... Also, it is all new to some people, even if it may be the same nonsense to the rest us...  Those who find it boring and the same old nonsense don't have to participate or even read it ;-).

Doesn't this board have a thread dedicated to "subjects/topics/posts & posters we hate to read?" Or something similar?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 03:33:30 PM
This nonesnse has gone on far too long and is pointless now. I am sorry the threads were revived now.

Well, the reason they were revived was because they had to be deleted (we all know why), so nothing was resolved from those discussions. If they were just left alone and we were allowed to discuss them, it would have run its course and everyone would have stopped talking about this long ago... Also, it is all new to some people, even if it may be the same nonsense to the rest us...  Those who find it boring and the same old nonsense don't have to participate or even read it ;-).

Doesn't this board have a thread dedicated to "subjects/topics/posts & posters we hate to read?" Or something similar?

Perhaps someone should start one instead of going off topic all the time... BTW, we are not even talking about FOTR most of the time until someone or other drags it back up... I think they like the bickering and controversy it causes, no matter how much they deny it... But this was why I reminded Arlene that it has its own thread. 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 03, 2008, 03:42:33 PM
There really are very few authors who come here to comment on our comments about their work. I guess most of them have other things to do and don't have time, maybe they are so pleased with their finished product it doesn't matter, or maybe they just don't want to know.

Yes, this is true, which is why there are usually no problems discussing most books here. If anyone remembers on the original thread, which was deleted, one of he things I mentioned about authors' obligations was that they should be professionally receptive to criticism from the readers (which is normal) if there is any. Most authors are, but alas this is not always the case... :-(


Good points, both. It would knock my socks off if Robert Massie or another writer of his caliber made himself accessible here (pipe dream)! I know Sarushka has been published, and I believe Margarita as well; I am really enjoying my exchanges with them.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 03:53:46 PM
It would knock my socks off if Robert Massie or another writer of his caliber made himself accessible here (pipe dream)! I know Sarushka has been published, and I believe Margarita as well; I am really enjoying my exchanges with them.

Robert Alexander (who wrote The Kitchen Boy, Rasputin's Daughter, etc) has been here too, and he actually asked for the readers' critiques and was very receptive to them. It was a pleasure to interact with someone as professional as him. Christina Croft is a published author too and used to post here, there were never any problems or issues. Also Helen Rappaport, who still posts here. Most published authors are aware that reader criticism comes with the territory and have no problem with it. Starting from grad school professionals are taught to be responsive to criticism of their work, no matter how difficult it is. Defending your graduate thesis is exactly about that. IMO, it is one of authors' obligations to the reader to accept criticism in a professional way and respond to questions...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 03, 2008, 04:39:42 PM
That is my experience with published authors- that they welcome comments, both positive & negative, as long as it is not fanatic devotion bordering on stalking or lunatic ravings of one sort or another. At times they may even take into consideration such comments  for their next work, whether or not it is would be on the same subject.
 One prominent author I know personally recieved so many comments on his second or  third novel in a series, that he changed the tone radically  in the next one. For the better, all agreed.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on March 03, 2008, 05:17:36 PM
Nick Nicholson also a published author, is a contributer to the APTM site and was a very active forum participant. He still "lurks". 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on March 03, 2008, 05:21:27 PM
I read everything even though I rarely post.  So I do understand.  But I just get tired of all the ill will.  Especially about Greg and Penny.

Sorry to butt in to your discussion.  Frankly I enjoyed FOTR.....and since NO ONE really knows what happened  on the girls/Alexi's boat journey I just passed over it and still kept my own opinions intact.....like I do with ALL Romanov books.  The only ones that I totally believe are the books of letters, those I enjoy so much! 

But I am patiently awiting Bob's book.......

Arleen

Not to fear Arleen. Bob is still working on the book.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 03, 2008, 05:33:59 PM
Another writer who's been here is Richard Cullen, who wrote the book alleging Rasputin was actually killed by a British agent. He got mixed responses on his information and theories, and answered all honestly and graciously.

What kind of book is Bob writing? With all the info he's gathered over the years, I'm sure it will be great!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 03, 2008, 05:36:02 PM
That is my experience with published authors- that they welcome comments, both positive & negative, as long as it is not fanatic devotion bordering on stalking or lunatic ravings of one sort or another. At times they may even take into consideration such comments  for their next work, whether or not it is would be on the same subject.
 One prominent author I know personally recieved so many comments on his second or  third novel in a series, that he changed the tone radically  in the next one. For the better, all agreed.

Robert, thank you for this example. I suppose writers' responses to reviews are as varied as the writers themselves. Forgive my ignorance here, but I'd like to know what reviewers serious writers take seriously. Is the New York Times or some other publication taken as gospel? Do writers regard Amazon reviews as a joke?

Annie, I saw some of Mr. Cullen's posts the other day, very classy!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 06:08:14 PM
Do writers regard Amazon reviews as a joke?

Some take Amazon reviews VERY seriously ;-)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 06:09:54 PM
Nick Nicholson also a published author, is a contributer to the APTM site and was a very active forum participant. He still "lurks". 

Another writer who's been here is Richard Cullen, who wrote the book alleging Rasputin was actually killed by a British agent. He got mixed responses on his information and theories, and answered all honestly and graciously.

Yes, that's right, I forgot about Nick Nicholson and Richard Cullen! Everyone but a few has been very gracious and professional.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Forum Admin on March 03, 2008, 06:33:31 PM
Another writer who's been here is Richard Cullen, who wrote the book alleging Rasputin was actually killed by a British agent. He got mixed responses on his information and theories, and answered all honestly and graciously.

What kind of book is Bob writing? With all the info he's gathered over the years, I'm sure it will be great!

Richard most graciously sent me his monograph on the forensic analysis of the Rasputin murder to post on the APTM main site for everyone to read, with his compliments.  I'm working on it, thought it would be easy, but there are many dozens of wonderful photos, maps and diagrams, all of which I have to download, resize and then upload back up to fit in the text...and the text is not short! Been a bit sidetracked, sadly. The time I had hoped to use for this and the 1912 Great Kremlin Palace Guide was severely cut into by the recent , ummm... unpleasantness.  Give me time, please, everyone for these, next two weeks I'm busy with family issues (nothing serious, but requiring my time, but I WILL still be keeping watch here.)
 
Bob's book is the history of the Alexander Palace, told essentially from the "palace's" point of view, right up to the end of of World War II.  It will be virtually anything anyone would want to know about the AP, with of course, the interaction of its residents. I may be biased, but I don't think anyone in the English speaking world knows more about the building than Bob does, and the photographs will be wonderful, many of them yet unpublished.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 03, 2008, 06:38:13 PM
Bob's book is the history of the Alexander Palace, told essentially from the "palace's" point of view, right up to the end of of World War II. 

I guess it will be sort of a biography of Alexander Palace (as if it was a human historical character). Sounds very exciting!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: grandduchessella on March 03, 2008, 09:35:15 PM
And of course there's Marlene Eilers Koenig who posts here as well as Ilana Miller. Janet Ashton has published several articles.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 04, 2008, 03:20:54 PM
Wow! I had no idea so many published authors pass through here....

As I wrote earlier, it's my pipe dream to engage in conversation with Robert Massie. I understand Nicholas and Alexandra takes some hits here due to agenda, reliance on secondary sources etc. (although it doesn't seem to inflame anyone's passions). As Dominic (I believe) stated, FOTR is worth it for the sources alone; I think N & A can be read for the quality of the writing alone.

I asked this question earlier but got no response: when Massie wrote N & A would he have had access to the sources Margarita used in her analysis of Rasputin? If he did then I would regard his Rasputin protrayal as grossly misleading.

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 04, 2008, 03:24:04 PM
when Massie wrote N & A would he have had access to the sources Margarita used in her analysis of Rasputin?

I seriously doubt it. Massie wrote N&A in the 1960's (?), while the Russian archives did not become available to the west until the late 1990's, if not later...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 04, 2008, 03:32:46 PM
when Massie wrote N & A would he have had access to the sources Margarita used in her analysis of Rasputin?

I seriously doubt it. Massie wrote N&A in the 1960's (?), while the Russian archives did not become available to the west until the late 1990's, if not later...

It is however a criticism made of Massie's (non-Russian) works that he fails to follow up on the most up to date research, even when available. He also as I have commented previously missed a trick in failing to get interviews for N&A in the 60s, and to question some of the premises in the books he used.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 04, 2008, 03:44:59 PM
It is however a criticism made of Massie's (non-Russian) works that he fails to follow up on the most up to date research, even when available. He also as I have commented previously missed a trick in failing to get interviews for N&A in the 60s, and to question some of the premises in the books he used.

I agree.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 05, 2008, 08:12:02 AM
One more related story about a fraudulent "non-fiction" work: Gang Memoir, Turning Page, Is Pure Fiction  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/books/04fake.html?_r=1&oref=slogin 

This seems to be an epidemic lately, what's going on?  ???
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 05, 2008, 01:26:14 PM
One more related story about a fraudulent "non-fiction" work: Gang Memoir, Turning Page, Is Pure Fiction  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/04/books/04fake.html?_r=1&oref=slogin 

This seems to be an epidemic lately, what's going on?  ???


Good question! I love the memoir format, but all these bogus books are going to have a chilling effect on the genre at some point. In our confessional age you'd think it would be a piece of cake to find a genuine gang member or holocaust survivor willing to talk without having to invent them. (Then again, maybe not...AA was willing to talk and we all know how that played out....)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 05, 2008, 02:33:03 PM
What is sad to me, is, that the book itself is worthwhile, very well wrtiien and engaging. [I have read just an except and listened to a reading, but it is not something that really interests me]. If it had been  sold for what it is- a novel in memoir form, it probably could have done well on it's own merits.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 05, 2008, 02:41:54 PM
What is sad to me, is, that the book itself is worthwhile, very well wrtiien and engaging. [I have read just an except and listened to a reading, but it is not something that really interests me]. If it had been  sold for what it is- a novel in memoir form, it probably could have done well on it's own merits.


The same is the case with James Frye's "memoirs", it could have stood on its own merit if marketed as a fiction novel. The problem is, both these books were presented as non-fiction, the readers were led to believe it was non-fiction, which makes it fraud... The publishers claim not to have been aware of this (?).
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 05, 2008, 03:17:12 PM
One would think the publishers would  do some  verification   before putting their name on a book.  But this has happened so many times before- The Eugenia Smith "Anastaia" memoirs,  Hitler diaries,  the recent "wolf lady" escaping Nazis [that one was a hoot!], etc.
 I have recently been  helping a friend  with research for  a novel he is writing. His first person prose is chillingly realistic, even though he was no where near the events he is writing about. In my opinion,  this work could easily pass as a "memoir".  He has no intention of doing so however.
 In my experience, a good writer puts a great deal of effort, thought and  creativity into  almost every word they put on paper.  Why any of them would want to mis-represent all that work is beyond me.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 05, 2008, 03:26:47 PM
One would think the publishers would  do some  verification   before putting their name on a book. 

I honestly don't think they ever do... It would probably be so time consuming to check up on every non-fiction book they publish! They just trust the authors, I guess...  Maybe now that this is becoming an "epidemic", they will do more of checking up...


I have recently been  helping a friend  with research for  a novel he is writing. His first person prose is chillingly realistic, even though he was no where near the events he is writing about. In my opinion,  this work could easily pass as a "memoir".  He has no intention of doing so however.
 


That's what those other authors should have done, but they probably figured that the book would sell better if everyone thought that it was a true story (which I guess is true). The author should be held responsible for unethical practices, IMO...

  In my experience, a good writer puts a great deal of effort, thought and  creativity into  almost every word they put on paper.  Why any of them would want to mis-represent all that work is beyond me.

I agree. It's beyond me too. Maybe they are just so desperate to stand out and become well known that they are willing to sacrifice almost anything...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 08, 2008, 12:53:15 AM
Annie wrote this on her web site:

>>It does look as if the blows against Anderson's claim would now be insurmountable, and enough to end this fractured fairy tale once and for all. Though the DNA and photos speak for themselves, and now that the last two missing bodies have been found, Anderson supporters continue to cling to their ideals and grasp at straws trying anything and stopping at nothing to make you believe there still might be a chance she was Anastasia. Some go so far as to invent outrageous conspiracy theories to discredit those connected with the DNA testing, and reality itself.

I  began this project believing there is a real need for someone to oppose that perpetuated fantasy with a 'mythbusters' or 'Amazing Randy' alternative to the worn out legend that should long ago have been put to bed, if that's what it takes to let the truth finally be free of the fiction. My only goal is to dispell this myth for truth in history and for the memory of the real Anastasia. I want to prevent any more innocent information seekers from being misled by Anderson supporters. I have no 'agenda' other than this...<<

Let me repeat Annie's line:

>>...now that the last two missing bodies have been found...<<

Did I miss a public annoucement  which told us that the Russians and the Americans had proven the 44 fragments of bones found in July in the 2 pits are Alexei and a grand duchess through their testing of DNA and mtDNA? 

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 08, 2008, 09:35:54 AM
Bear, when the news was released, the experts said they were sure enough it was them that news stories carried it as fact. The headline here on this site read that the remains had been found. The news stories even changed from 'believed to be' to actually found after news conferences with those involved explained how the grave was exactly where recently discovered documents said it would be, that it contained the same bullets and ceramic acid jars as the other grave, and that the remains were a young boy and girl. No, the DNA tests are not back yet, but when the people who found and examined the bones said they were sure it was the right thing, I accept that. Even if they were not able to extract DNA from the burned remains, the fat lady really has sung here, regardless of how you and a few others want to hold onto the dream of the bodies still being missing.(Oh and also don't forget that no other bones were found in the area so don't try to say it was some random Stalin victim) Besides, on the part of my site you quoted above, that bolded sentence about the bodies being found is a clickable link that takes you to my 'missing remains found??!!' section where more detailed info on the story and the evidence is presented for everyone to read and decide for themselves. It has the links to several major media news stories, the thread here, and the SEARCH foundation's press releases.

And if you're going to start picking on my website, I'll answer any questions, because I stand behind what I have written. It is admittedly a mixture of actual facts, info and quotes  from the 'other side' that AA supporters aren't going to tell you, and my own logical explainations of what most likely happened in certain situations. For example, I don't claim to have any 'startling new evidence' that the Schanzkowska family admitted to denying AA, but I do bring up likely reasons why they did and try to piece together what must have went on, now that we know that she was FS, something had to have happened behind the scenes we don't know about and no one is going to tell so we just have to put two and two together. If you want to pick, I can find you dozens of blatant inaccuracies and misquotes on the many pro-AA sites out there on the web, but I don't think this thread was meant to explore websites. But unlike a published book, the websites (theirs and mine) are free to read and no one asked you to pay money for them.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 08, 2008, 12:31:34 PM
Annie, you make a very good point. Most books are available to either buy [my option] or  borrow from public libraries. So much of what is  posted on the www is opinionated drivel, I tend to  find a printed source with references to back up what I have to say.
 Recently, I became involved in a discussion of  the making of Gone With The Wind.  I heard things I never knew and found fascinating. So- off to Amazon and Bookfinder.  I have ended up ordering 7 books on just that one subject! Now I will have to order a copy of the movie itself, I suppose.
 Obviously, there are many versions of the same  theme.
 It is funny about the  Romanovs.  Just one  pro AA book is accepted as the  "bible" for that cause, yet  dozens  of others refute the claim in various forms. Yet the fantasy persists.
 In both cases, the authors have done their job.  Well in most cases, sloppy in others.
 It is no easy matter to get published now-a-days.  Which is why posited ealier  that I  would think  publishers would  at least verify their author's credentials.
 I enjoy reading for the sake of reading.  Either to gain knowledge or simple entertainment. I also participate in the process of writing with several authors over the years. I enjoy that as well.  For the most part.
 For odd reasons of circumstance, however, the only books on the Romanovs I have been asked to assist in- either research or editing, have been fiction.  Think I will keep it that way.
 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 08, 2008, 02:16:23 PM
Posted by FA on the "FOTR" thread:

What about the fact that the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence says, including the first hand sources of the time, say Yurovsky was born to Jewish parents.  FOTR relies on ONE unpublished source to wholly dispute this, calling it FACT.  Especially when it is Yurovsky himself, who they also themselves call totally unreliable for OTHER things, ie: the murder itself....SO they themselves rely on their self admitted "unreliable source" to validate the statement as fact.

THIS is the point of discussion...


I would like to ask AGR Bear what she thinks of this.

Bear, you don't believe anything else Yurovsky is quoted as saying, yet you accept this. Can you tell us why this is special?

Bear, you  are a real stickler for verified 'facts' and sources. How do you feel about the accuracy of the claimed source?

I also find it very interesting that many of Ms. Wilson's staunchest supporters have ragged on me for not always being able to produce a source for something I post here, but saying  I 'remember reading it somewhere'.  How is this worse than saying a source was used, but it was inaccurate or can't be verified? They have also accused me of presenting my own speculation as fact (I do speculate but I do not claim it's fact) I want to know what they think about these things apparently being done in a published book, and by someone they admire?

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 08, 2008, 08:10:17 PM
I have responded to this question over under FATE OF THE ROMANOVS.

BEAR,

...[in part]... YOU yourself accuse Yurovsky about lying about EVERYTHING, remember?? shall I pull up all your posts where you question his accuracy at every turn?? Suddenly NOW he's telling the truth. Am tired of your baiting people for the sake of baiting and not for genuine discussion.

I did not say that I thought Yurovsky was telling the truth or lying in his unpublished memoirs.

...[in part]...

I don't know enough to have an opinion, yet. 
...

AGRBear

...[in part]....   If he was Russian Orthodox then Yurovsky's didn't lie in his memoirs about his early life.   If his records are in the Jewish records,  then Yurovsky did lie in his memoirs.  ....


So, I have suggested someone go and find his birth records in Tomsk or Omsk or whereever Yurovsky was born.

And,  you're right,  I have been lerry of Yurovsky's various statements long before  my first post on this forum to this one.  And,  I see no problem in asking as many questions as I can to discover through other sources,  how much Yurovsky has told us is true, part true,  misleading,  misinformation and just plain lies.  Afterall,  his testimonies (published and unpublished) are very important in discovering what occurred that eventful night of 16/17  July 1918 when history records  Nicholas II, his family and the others were executed.

So, if you tell me that Yurovsky's birth record tells us that he was Jewish,  then apparently he was lying in his unpublished memoirs, if indeed that is what he wrote. 

I'll have to let you and others find and translate the original to satisfy yourselves about the accuracy of King and Wilson's  translation,  because I'm not in a position to do it myself.

Remember,  I don't care where the truth takes me,  I'm just enjoying the journey.

AGRBear

I don't think it's necessary to carry on this part of the conversation on two threads at the same time,  so, please,  follow the other thread by clicking on the link..


AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 08, 2008, 08:41:09 PM
This is kind of entertaining and within the topic of "Authors' obligations"... 

How to write a misery memoir
 
Yet another tragic autobiography has been exposed as a fraud following rave reviews. John Crace offers tips to writers who want to wring a bestseller out of their dull life story...

Thursday March 6, 2008
The Guardian

Imagine that your parents didn't beat you up, that you were only slightly bullied at school, that you only get pissed from time to time and that you haven't got a fatal illness. How does that make you feel? Inadequate, I should think. Who is going to want to read your life story? Even the market for misery memoirs has its limits and no one is going to be interested in the heartfelt pain of being rather ordinary. But don't let that hold you back. Because if you are really determined to spill your guts, you can. Here's how.  http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2262445,00.html#article_continue
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 08, 2008, 09:56:29 PM
This is kind of entertaining and within the topic of "Authors' obligations"... 

How to write a misery memoir
 
Yet another tragic autobiography has been exposed as a fraud following rave reviews. John Crace offers tips to writers who want to wring a bestseller out of their dull life story...

Thursday March 6, 2008
The Guardian

Imagine that your parents didn't beat you up, that you were only slightly bullied at school, that you only get pissed from time to time and that you haven't got a fatal illness. How does that make you feel? Inadequate, I should think. Who is going to want to read your life story? Even the market for misery memoirs has its limits and no one is going to be interested in the heartfelt pain of being rather ordinary. But don't let that hold you back. Because if you are really determined to spill your guts, you can. Here's how.  http://books.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2262445,00.html#article_continue

Oh my goodness, I was surprised to see Dave Pelzer included in the article. I read all three books in his A Child Called It series; it never crossed my mind they weren't true because similar cases of barbaric child abuse are in the news all the time. Well, his is one memoir I'd be relieved to discover was pure fiction; one less brutalized child is a good thing.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 10, 2008, 10:20:34 AM
Bear, when the news was released, the experts said they were sure enough it was them that news stories carried it as fact. The headline here on this site read that the remains had been found. The news stories even changed from 'believed to be' to actually found after news conferences with those involved explained how the grave was exactly where recently discovered documents said it would be, that it contained the same bullets and ceramic acid jars as the other grave, and that the remains were a young boy and girl. No, the DNA tests are not back yet, but when the people who found and examined the bones said they were sure it was the right thing, I accept that. Even if they were not able to extract DNA from the burned remains, the fat lady really has sung here, regardless of how you and a few others want to hold onto the dream of the bodies still being missing.(Oh and also don't forget that no other bones were found in the area so don't try to say it was some random Stalin victim) Besides, on the part of my site you quoted above, that bolded sentence about the bodies being found is a clickable link that takes you to my 'missing remains found??!!' section where more detailed info on the story and the evidence is presented for everyone to read and decide for themselves. It has the links to several major media news stories, the thread here, and the SEARCH foundation's press releases.

And if you're going to start picking on my website, I'll answer any questions, because I stand behind what I have written. It is admittedly a mixture of actual facts, info and quotes  from the 'other side' that AA supporters aren't going to tell you, and my own logical explainations of what most likely happened in certain situations. For example, I don't claim to have any 'startling new evidence' that the Schanzkowska family admitted to denying AA, but I do bring up likely reasons why they did and try to piece together what must have went on, now that we know that she was FS, something had to have happened behind the scenes we don't know about and no one is going to tell so we just have to put two and two together. If you want to pick, I can find you dozens of blatant inaccuracies and misquotes on the many pro-AA sites out there on the web, but I don't think this thread was meant to explore websites. But unlike a published book, the websites (theirs and mine) are free to read and no one asked you to pay money for them.

Having once worked in the newspaper world,  I know that news is often times exagerated so people will continue to read what is under the headlines.  Just because the bold tpye words claim something,  doesn't make it a fact.  Just because you are using your logic,  doesn't make it a fact.  Just because you want it to be true,  doesn't make it a fact. 

Until we see the results    shouldn't your readers know that scentifically  the idenity of the two bodies found in the 2 pits in July is not yet established???

You have complete control of your web sites.  You can make changes in minutes.  And,  when the news breaks and it's official,  then you can add this to your site.  It's simple.  It's relatively painless.  And,  it would be truthful.

My comment about your facts have nothing whats-so-ever to do with AA, Kurth, King and Wilson,  it is about what you, Annie, have written.

For those who think my comments are not part of this thread,  let me explain:  Annie's site has been published on the internet.  She is the author.  Therefore,  she is obliged to be accurate just like any author.


Am I wrong or am I right?

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 10, 2008, 11:53:02 AM

My comment about your facts have nothing whats-so-ever to do with AA, Kurth, King and Wilson,  it is about what you, Annie, have written.

Oh yes it does. That's exactly what I'm saying to you, bear, you cannot pick and choose who you decide to nag and who you choose to let off the hook because you like them better. IF you really want the 'truth' you would hold everyone to the same standard. If you do not do this, then it's clear you only pick on people you don't like the messages of. On your site, you are very adamant about sources being true and verified. In posts here, you have complained people don't back up their sources. Yet when it's been proven that some published authors who charged money for their book weren't so careful with their sources, you dismiss it and pick on my website instead. If the only thing you are picking on me for is saying the bodies were found when you don't believe that's been proven, I really don't see how you can make such a big deal out of this while blatantly ignoring all the misinformation written by your friends. No double standards, bear, I want to know, would you consider the incorrect things found in FOTR to be accurate by the standards of your forum?

Quote
For those who think my comments are not part of this thread,  let me explain:  Annie's site has been published on the internet.  She is the author.  Therefore,  she is obliged to be accurate just like any author.


Am I wrong or am I right?

AGRBear


If I'm an 'author' for making a website, then is everyone else who's made a website, and so are you for the stuff you post on your site, and technically your posts here. No I don't think someone who makes or posts on a website, any website, is an 'author.'
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 10, 2008, 12:18:22 PM
Can we please confine the AA and FOTR topics to their appropriate threads?
 I am currently reading 2 books. One, an engagingly  funny tail about a bike messenger [fiction] the other, non-fiction, a collection of essays on Gay Travels in the Muslim World.  That is fascinating recounts of individual experiences.
 In both cases, the authors  [and editors] are doing what I would consider their true obligations. That is, telling their stories, true or otherwise in an understandable,  enjoyable read. In the latter  tome, I might  have different experiences but it does not invalidate those of the authors. In the  novel, well, I have known a few bike messengers and they do not quite make the image portrayed in the book, but, it is  the author's  creation, not mine.
 Reading a book should not be a chore of challenging the author.  There are many books  with which I have had disagreements , but I do not make it an obsession to  prove them wrong. They have their say, and I move on.
 There is plenty of creative, insightful and otherwise  written on the internet.  Much more than is ever  bound and printed in the written word.

 
 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 10, 2008, 12:25:01 PM

My comment about your facts have nothing whats-so-ever to do with AA, Kurth, King and Wilson,  it is about what you, Annie, have written.

Oh yes it does. That's exactly what I'm saying to you, bear, you cannot pick and choose who you decide to nag and who you choose to let off the hook because you like them better. IF you really want the 'truth' you would hold everyone to the same standard. If you do not do this, then it's clear you only pick on people you don't like the messages of. On your site, you are very adamant about sources being true and verified. In posts here, you have complained people don't back up their sources. Yet when it's been proven that some published authors who charged money for their book weren't so careful with their sources, you dismiss it and pick on my website instead. If the only thing you are picking on me for is saying the bodies were found when you don't believe that's been proven, I really don't see how you can make such a big deal out of this while blatantly ignoring all the misinformation written by your friends. No double standards, bear, I want to know, would you consider the incorrect things found in FOTR to be accurate by the standards of your forum?

Quote
For those who think my comments are not part of this thread,  let me explain:  Annie's site has been published on the internet.  She is the author.  Therefore,  she is obliged to be accurate just like any author.


Am I wrong or am I right?

AGRBear


If I'm an 'author' for making a website, then is everyone else who's made a website, and so are you for the stuff you post on your site, and technically your posts here. No I don't think someone who makes or posts on a website, any website, is an 'author.'

So,  what do the rest of you think?  Are Annie's and my words which are  written on our web site fall under the meaning of being an author?
---

Def.:
author |ˈôθər| (abbr.: auth.)
noun
a writer of a book, article, or report : he is the author of several books on the subject.
• someone who writes books as a profession : my favorite authors are Kurt Vonnegut and Aldous Huxley.
• the writings of such a person : I had to read authors I disliked.
• figurative an originator or creator of something, esp. a plan or idea : the authors of the peace plan.
---

Should this include writers of web sites like Annie's and/or my own, who write about a subject, which can be read around the world on a computer screen rather than the printed page, be considered as authors?

Do people who write web sites like Annie or my own  have a obligation, no mater the subject, to tell their readers if something is fictional or non-fictional?

This is becoming a paperless communication and I believe the standards should be even higher than books since blog etc. etc. can be corrected or amended or explained very quickly.  There is no need to wait for an outsider, unless you have a webmaster, to be accurate with your information on any subject.

Since Annie has frequented my forum,  she is well aware that I ask for sources.

It may seem that I'm just picking on Annie,  I am not.   I did use her quote as an example, since this forum is about the Romanovs.  I'm sure I could find other examples on other web sites, and,  I'd say the same thing, because, I think,   all of us have become "authors" and our information can be read around the world in a matter of seconds, therefore,  I think all of us have an obligation to be as truthful as we can, and,  if we make an error, which we all have and will,  then it's our obligation to correct that error as quickly as we can.

AGRBear 
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 10, 2008, 01:05:41 PM
Bear, you are avoiding the question. I want to know, do you hold everyone, regardless of who they are, to your same lofty standards of accuracy in sourcing, or do you only nitpick at those who don't like and let the others slide? Yes or no?

For at least four years now, I have had to hear how you demand sources, and proper sources, verifyable and proven reliable. Is this only true when it's convenient to you?

I am perplexed, since over time you have been very vocal about this, then suddenly silent when the subject falls on something you don't like to criticize. What's the deal, bear, all or nothing?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 10, 2008, 01:14:50 PM
Here is another example of why accuracy and correcting mistakes is so important!

In Klier and Mingay's book "Quest for Anastasia",  they incorrectly quoted that FS and her brother Felix were 'children of the second marriage'. This led many people to assume that she and Gertrude had different mothers, so therefore their mtDNA should not have been the same. However, this turned out to be wrong, they were indeed whole sisters. Unfortunately, when Frances Welch wrote her "Romanov Fantasy", she quoted the line from "Quest" and sourced it in her footnotes. This appears to be a fact but it was wrong. She didn't know it was wrong, but because it was in another book, and because it was never corrected, others take it as real and continue to quote it. This is how misinformation and inaccuracies can be spread, and why finding and correcting mistakes is so important.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 10, 2008, 04:49:24 PM
Bear, you are avoiding the question. I want to know, do you hold everyone, regardless of who they are, to your same lofty standards of accuracy in sourcing, or do you only nitpick at those who don't like and let the others slide? Yes or no?

For at least four years now, I have had to hear how you demand sources, and proper sources, verifyable and proven reliable. Is this only true when it's convenient to you?

I am perplexed, since over time you have been very vocal about this, then suddenly silent when the subject falls on something you don't like to criticize. What's the deal, bear, all or nothing?

I believe I've answered your questions. But,  evidently, I need to rephrase:   I'd like all authors  to be as honest and as truthful as they can about their subject/ subjects.

AGRBear





 













Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: LisaDavidson on March 10, 2008, 07:57:32 PM
Annie, since you asked for opinions, I will offer mine. First, it is easier for website content to be edited for errors than it is for the content books - which may or may not be republished - to be corrected.

I remember I got the death date wrong in my short biography of Grand Duke Michael on the APA site - because the wrong date had been used by Mirenenko and Maylunas (who might have known better, but who could not issue a correction on a book). I wrote to ask for it to be changed, and I'm sorry to say, I don't remember if it was.

My second point is that while the author may be able to write her publisher, it is the publisher who must do the correcting. And, yes, I do think that if someone writes original content - regardless of how published - is an author.

And third, online discussions often involve nitpicking and can lack a sense of proportion, including our discussions here. The thing is, if one is not interested in participating (and as of late, I am not), one can just walk away.

Just my two kopeks.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on March 10, 2008, 08:31:32 PM
I give up.  This topic has  been hijacked into another thread about the AA,etc controversy.
 Go for it.  All yours.
  Like Lisa, I am more than dis-interested.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Mari on March 11, 2008, 01:49:09 AM
Quote
Are Annie's and my words which are  written on our web site fall under the meaning of being an author?
Quote

Yes and under the same obligation as those Authors you read!  ...... Websites are used by Students as factual information and so you have self-published your information particularly if its your website. The exception being if your Website consisted of quotes and sources only.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 11, 2008, 08:50:55 AM
Quote
Are Annie's and my words which are  written on our web site fall under the meaning of being an author?
Quote

Yes and under the same obligation as those Authors you read!  ...... Websites are used by Students as factual information and so you have self-published your information particularly if its your website. The exception being if your Website consisted of quotes and sources only.

Gee I never considered myself an 'author', at least not for that site. Maybe for the loads of unsubmitted half written novel manuscripts in my closet, but not a website. Anyway I DO stand behind my website as a source for students, and a couple people have told me they used it for a report. I have listed my resources and can give you the source for all direct quotes and information included, some is noted. Even my speculations on what might have happened are drawing conclusions based on real evidence put together. There are loads of homemade pro AA sites with some very inaccurate information on them, so I feel that my site is a balance to that if anyone sees them all. I bet everyone who rattled off those odd versions of AA's stories never considered themselves an 'author' with an obligation to students, and I sure hope no one uses them for a report! Some of them are just horrendous. The only issue, as far as I know, about the accuracy of my site here is that bear questioned me saying the bodies had been found when she believes this hasn't been proven. Though the DNA tests aren't done yet, when major news services carry the story that the mystery is solved and the bones are found, that's strong backup (along with the press conferences of the experts). Of course, even if the DNA tests do prove this is the last two missing kids, it will still never be enough to convince those who question the other DNA tests so does that really even matter? There will never be proof for those who choose to believe that the Russians rigged the find, the Queen paid everyone to discredit AA, etc., ad nauseum...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 11, 2008, 12:59:14 PM
Well, the term author is being thrown around rather loosely here. If I write to my friend or in my journal, yes, I'm the author, and in an ideal world I should be truthful, but my writings should never be held to the same standards as those of the historian.

Online forums and websites come and go like rabbits now, and most should be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt. Annie's website is cool and serves the mission it intended, but should a student cite it as authority? I wouldn't, not because it's Annie's work (she's my good friend here, by the way), but because it doesn't meet rigorous academic standards. Unless she's writing as Annie so and so, representing Harvard or the Smithsonian for example, it doesn't have to.

Hopefully schools are giving students the proper tools and critical thinking skills necessary for online research; without those things the internet can cause more harm than good.

If I were in Annie's shoes, I'd be more comfortable stating the bones of the missing Romanov children most likely have been found. Then she would avoid the similar mistake FOTR made, stating Marie's death and Anastasia's unknown status as absolutes.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 11, 2008, 01:25:40 PM

Online forums and websites come and go like rabbits now, and most should be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt.

Yes, they do, anyone with an email and a keyboard can make themselves a forum or a geocities, freewebs, tripod, etc. Some are great, some are not.

Quote
Annie's website is cool and serves the mission it intended, but should a student cite it as authority?

In my daughter's high school English class, they'd let you quote ANY website as a source, as long as you had three different sources. That means people can use a blatantly false one like the one I saw that completely changes AA's story so badly even Kurth wouldn't agree with it. Other teachers won't let you use websites, or won't let you use wikipedia. If anyone uses my website, rather than quoting my website, if I have given the source of the info, use that. If not, they could ask me and I could tell them where it came from. The good thing about my website is that a lot of the 'other side' of the AA story, some of it very obscure, that AA supporters aren't going to put in their books or articles is concentrated in one place so you don't have to go digging for it (like I did when I wrote it)

So again- if anyone has any questions about where I got any of the info on my site, I will tell you. I did list all my sources and references, and it all goes back to one or more of them.

Quote
because it doesn't meet rigorous academic standards.

I know a doctoral student who was told that FOTR was not an accepted reference source because the authors were not scholars of history. Massie, on the other hand, is very accepted and respected among those writing and grading high level academic papers.


Quote
If I were in Annie's shoes, I'd be more comfortable stating the bones of the missing Romanov children most likely have been found.


If I said 'likely' there really wouldn't be an issue here. I said (only on the intro) that they had been found, though like I said before, that quote is bolded and is a clickable link taking you directly to the 'missing remains found??!!' section for the whole story. So no I don't feel like I did anything wrong or misled anyone and I stand behind it.

Quote
Then she would avoid the similar mistake FOTR made, stating Marie's death and Anastasia's unknown status as absolutes.

The problem I have about that those things are mentioned in ways that are vague enough to be misleading in a way that people could take them for fact, whether or not it was intended that way. I don't think anyone should present a scenario that way unless it's clear it's only speculation. Though Radzinsky gives more value to the AA cart story than I'd like to see in a professional book at the end of his "The Last Tsar", at least he leaves it all as a question and never claims or even insinuates, or leaves it vaguely ambiguous, that it's true. He always phrases it as question, 'were those the stars of that impossible night?' and never states it as fact or puts it so that a person could take it that way. It's okay to put in an author's own wonderings and guesses as long as it's very clear that's all they are.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 11, 2008, 03:26:49 PM
I know a doctoral student who was told that FOTR was not an accepted reference source because the authors were not scholars of history. Massie, on the other hand, is very accepted and respected among those writing and grading high level academic papers.


Swings and roundabouts, then; because I have cited FOTR in a scholarly article without objections, and I know others whose remit is to select this material for academic study at post-graduate level, serving an international community to boot, and they too consider it within scope.

Massie was a journalist when he wrote Nicholas and Alexandra, certainly not an academic, and I have stumbled across references to his work (in academic level material) as "not the most serious or scholarly," which I personally find a little extreme, but it just goes to show that you can't win all the people all the time.....

Anyway, don't wish to contribute to the very monotony I keep sniping about, so time for another week off.....
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Janet Ashton on March 11, 2008, 03:36:25 PM


Quote
Then she would avoid the similar mistake FOTR made, stating Marie's death and Anastasia's unknown status as absolutes.

The problem I have about that those things are mentioned in ways that are vague enough to be misleading in a way that people could take them for fact, whether or not it was intended that way. I don't think anyone should present a scenario that way unless it's clear it's only speculation. Though Radzinsky gives more value to the AA cart story than I'd like to see in a professional book at the end of his "The Last Tsar", at least he leaves it all as a question and never claims or even insinuates, or leaves it vaguely ambiguous, that it's true. He always phrases it as question, 'were those the stars of that impossible night?' and never states it as fact or puts it so that a person could take it that way. It's okay to put in an author's own wonderings and guesses as long as it's very clear that's all they are.

What you consider wonderings and guessings others may consider a firmly held opinion based on careful examination of multiple strands of evidence. (I have no idea why I can't get this to show up as anything other than a quote, but that's the way it is....J.A.)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Mari on March 12, 2008, 03:59:26 AM
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What you consider wonderings and guessings others may consider a firmly held opinion based on careful examination of multiple strands of evidence.
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Exactly my point... :)

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Well, the term author is being thrown around rather loosely here. If I write to my friend or in my journal, yes, I'm the author, and in an ideal world I should be truthful, but my writings should never be held to the same standards as those of the historian
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.

Yes, but I didn't say Historian  I said Author...and any ordained by me Expert now can self-publish History! So, the question becomes Should all Authors be held to a Standard if they offer these three criteria!  And its that (1) they believe they hold some knowledge  in this area (2) they think their School of thought or the way they see the conclusion in a certain way is the correct one (3) they offer their own thoughts on the subject ...should they then be held to the same standard?   

Remember they are presenting themselves in a certain way and High School Students cannot differentiate between levels of Academia?  So, my thoughts are Yes or why Self-Publish?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 12, 2008, 09:30:19 AM

What you consider wonderings and guessings others may consider a firmly held opinion based on careful examination of multiple strands of evidence. (I have no idea why I can't get this to show up as anything other than a quote, but that's the way it is....J.A.)

My only quibble with this is the FOTR authors presented Marie's death/Anastasia's unknown status as a fact rather than opinion. In my opinion, the book gave enough evidence to the opposite theory to justify withholding judgment on their deaths. Of course all Romanov writers are no doubt guilty of making factual statements about things which later were disproved.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on March 12, 2008, 09:43:23 AM

Yes, but I didn't say Historian  I said Author...and any ordained by me Expert now can self-publish History! So, the question becomes Should all Authors be held to a Standard if they offer these three criteria!  And its that (1) they believe they hold some knowledge  in this area (2) they think their School of thought or the way they see the conclusion in a certain way is the correct one (3) they offer their own thoughts on the subject ...should they then be held to the same standard?   

Remember they are presenting themselves in a certain way and High School Students cannot differentiate between levels of Academia?  So, my thoughts are Yes or why Self-Publish?

Mari, this is great in theory; no one is arguing your criteria shouldn't be met. However, focusing solely on online "authorship," it's unworkable at this time because of an utter lack of internet regulation or checks and balances of any kind. As long as anyone can set up or post at a website, the onus will be on those high school students to learn very quickly how to separate the wheat from the chaff (as well as on their instructors to give them the tools to distinguish between the two).
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 12, 2008, 01:01:49 PM

Yes, but I didn't say Historian  I said Author...and any ordained by me Expert now can self-publish History! So, the question becomes Should all Authors be held to a Standard if they offer these three criteria!  And its that (1) they believe they hold some knowledge  in this area (2) they think their School of thought or the way they see the conclusion in a certain way is the correct one (3) they offer their own thoughts on the subject ...should they then be held to the same standard?   

Remember they are presenting themselves in a certain way and High School Students cannot differentiate between levels of Academia?  So, my thoughts are Yes or why Self-Publish?

Mari, this is great in theory; no one is arguing your criteria shouldn't be met. However, focusing solely on online "authorship," it's unworkable at this time because of an utter lack of internet regulation or checks and balances of any kind. As long as anyone can set up or post at a website, the onus will be on those high school students to learn very quickly how to separate the wheat from the chaff (as well as on their instructors to give them the tools to distinguish between the two).

Then the teachers will have to set up some kind of an "approval" list.  Of course,  the list would be different for  younger children, teens and colledge students.   And,  the group creating these lists would need to have it's own check and balances to make sure that the lists don't become  one sided  but start and remain well balanced, no matter the subject.   

One thing I've learn in 65 years is:  There are only a few things which are impossible to accomplish.  I don't think this task by or for teachers is impossible.

For the rest of us,  we each need to hold ourselves to "high standards".   

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 12, 2008, 01:12:40 PM
One thing going on in schools today is that too often the goal really isn't to teach you something but to teach you how to perform and complete a task. That's why sometimes they don't even care what you use, as long as you learn how to use a source. Some teachers don't even bother to look into them, they just look at the bibliography, okay he/she has three links here, okay, check that one off the list. Kids are also allowed, and even encouraged, to do the work online, making copy and pasting common. One of the main reasons I made my site is because there is SO much false and misleading info out there on AA and AN in homemade websites that there is the real potential for people learning the wrong thing so I felt another view needed to be represented.

On the other hand, there are some teachers who won't accept wikipedia because it can be edited by anyone at any time. When I was in school we had to have at least three sources, one encyclopedia, one magazine article and at least one actual book. This supposedly teaches kids how to utilize various different types of media. In those days, we didn't have the internet, of course, but we did have an extensive collection of old magazines and a list of what was in each one. We were supposed to find the right thing in the right one, and fill out a request form for the libararian to get it out of storage.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 12, 2008, 01:16:27 PM
Then the teachers will have to set up some kind of an "approval" list. 

Newsflash: they have. I do this all day, every day, i.e. help teenagers and adults with their research projects, and I can tell you that not all sources are equal according to teachers, no matter whether they are "published" or not... You don't have to be 65 years old to know this.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 12, 2008, 01:20:18 PM
Then the teachers will have to set up some kind of an "approval" list. 

Newsflash: they have. I do this all day, every day, i.e. help teenagers and adults with their research projects, and I can tell you that not all sources are equal according to teachers, no matter whether they are "published" or not.

That's very good to know! I hope all teachers and schools will do the same.

Unfortunately, this was not my experience when my kids were in school. (graduated in '05 and '07) The standards were pretty lax, until high school AP or Honors English, you could use just about anything.

Things do seem to be tightening up. I heard when the internet was first available, it was common for kids to plaigerize entire reports until teachers wised up and googled paragraphs to see if anything matched!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 12, 2008, 03:58:31 PM
Unfortunately, this was not my experience when my kids were in school. (graduated in '05 and '07) The standards were pretty lax, until high school AP or Honors English, you could use just about anything.

In my experience, even in the worst schools the teachers usually won't accept most Internet sources alone, unless they are ".edu" or a reliable ".org". Wikipedia is usually out... They mostly want book sources (not always completely reliable - as we all know) and articles (not always reliable either, but more so than most of the Internet).  Many students (mostly college) have to use peer reviewed material only... I think it's very rare when a teacher would accept Internet sources only, without any reliable corroboration from other sources...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on March 12, 2008, 05:23:57 PM
Unfortunately, this was not my experience when my kids were in school. (graduated in '05 and '07) The standards were pretty lax, until high school AP or Honors English, you could use just about anything.

In my experience, even in the worst schools the teachers usually won't accept most Internet sources alone, unless they are ".edu" or a reliable ".org". Wikipedia is usually out... They mostly want book sources (not always completely reliable - as we all know) and articles (not always reliable either, but more so than most of the Internet).  Many students (mostly college) have to use peer reviewed material only... I think it's very rare when a teacher would accept Internet sources only, without any reliable corroboration from other sources...

It depends on the teacher and the grade and the class level. Some did and some didn't. The middle school teachers were mainly looking just to teach them how to use sources and didn't care what it was. They were lazy about grading, sometimes taking them weeks to grade reports so I really doubt they ever checked into anything. They did ask for sources other than internet, but wanted those too. Later, some teachers did just what you said, it had to be an edu. site and no wiki, or no internet at all. Some wouldn't even allow encyclopedias. By the senior Advanced placement or honors English the standards were a lot tougher. I'm just afraid there are a lot of lax and lazy teachers out there letting kids use lame sources.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: halen on March 12, 2008, 05:26:51 PM
As a 3rd year university student (majoring in history of course), I can assure you that I would get a big F on a paper if I used Wikipeda! This site is a big no no in my course.  I would get and have received A's for using peer reviewed scholary articles, book resources. Profs are pretty good at letting you know in the beginning of the semester what is exceptable and what isn't. If I'm not sure I get in touch with the prof to get confirmation.  We get a session a semester in the library and go through how to look up resources, subjects etc.
















Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Mari on March 13, 2008, 02:35:05 AM
Yes, but whether Teachers are lax or whether they have lists isn't my main Point...the main thing is "If you have a Website and publish Historical information" and hold the belief historical Authors should have a very high standard...shouldn't you practice what you preach.?"  Shouldn't you then hold the very highest Standards for yourself and have everything as factual as you can possibly get it ..Website or Book? That is my question?

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Online forums and websites come and go like rabbits now, and most should be taken with a gargantuan grain of salt.
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Yes, but does anyone on this thread...want to be one of those disreputable Websites? Surely not...surely they want to put out the most honest, accurate information they can. And if your going to take the responsibility of setting up a Website or any form of self publishing then there comes with it an obligation...and it doesn't matter what other Websites are doing...not if you want yours to be credible!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on March 13, 2008, 09:05:54 AM
Yes, but whether Teachers are lax

I think that's an exception not the rule though, but of course that depends. A lot of schools do have a standard, but if the teacher is lax, then students can of course get away with it. Not all students care about standards for themselves, and these teachers should be explaning to them why certain sources are not acceptable. If they fail to do that, then these teachers should befired, IMO, because when their students get to college, they will all end up failing...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: AGRBear on March 13, 2008, 05:34:46 PM
Then the teachers will have to set up some kind of an "approval" list. 

Newsflash: they have. I do this all day, every day, i.e. help teenagers and adults with their research projects, and I can tell you that not all sources are equal according to teachers, no matter whether they are "published" or not... You don't have to be 65 years old to know this.

Helen,

I thought we were talking about teachers not librarians.  Since you've mention librarians,  it is marvelous that libarians can help direct teenagers and adults to good sources for their research projects. I know I've had some great help through the years by the men and women who work hard in the libraries around the world.

I remember one particular great guy in the library in Europe.  He brought to me a book written by my ancestors born in the 1700s which he had found by going through material that hadn't reached the listings in computers at that point in time.

Anyway,  does anyone know if there are    teachers' or professors' which has reliable iinformation and links on Russian history?

AGRBear
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 03, 2008, 12:30:05 PM
Switching gears a bit, I have a question for Robert Alexander and Sarushka, but don't want to muddy up the Romanov Bride thread.

Do either of you, as respected, published authors, feel there is any nonfiction subject matter that should remain beyond the reach of art, or should it all be fair game? I am obviously thinking of Elie Wiesel's assertion that the Holocaust is sacred material drained of substance in the hands of novelists. Do either of you personally regard anything as off limits?

I'm curious to hear the writer's perspective, but of course welcome comments from all....

Thanks, Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 03, 2008, 12:57:19 PM
Do either of you, as respected, published authors, feel there is any nonfiction subject matter that should remain beyond the reach of art, or should it all be fair game? I am obviously thinking of Elie Wiesel's assertion that the Holocaust is sacred material drained of substance in the hands of novelists. Do either of you personally regard anything as off limits?

I don't have any personal restrictions regarding subject matter. I believe you should write with respect toward your subject, but I don't think there are subjects that shouldn't be touched. Keep in mind though, that I've led a relatively short, sheltered life. If I'd led a life parallel to Wiesel's I might well feel differently.

I interpret Wiesel's comment to mean that no novelist can convey the depth and breadth of the holocaust experience. He's probably right. However, if even what Wiesel would regard as a feeble representation can affect a change or create understanding in a reader, I think it's still worth writing. We may not be able to make people fully understand, but we can perhaps make them want to prevent history from repeating itself.


Incidentally, IMO non-fiction and memoir fall within the realm of art. Anything that is written to express or evoke emotion or empathy is art, even if it consists entirely of facts.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 03, 2008, 07:20:30 PM
I also think that during the 20th century we were too close to the event itself to gain anything like perspective (which IMO is a component of art). Holocaust studies and literature didn't really appear in large numbers until the 1960s, and even then there were problems with it, since the immensity of the event made it difficult to approach. I am thinking of the alterations to Anne Frank's diary in its' published form, to say nothing of the dramatic shaping given it by the play and subsequent movie.

So yes, I would agree with Wiesel that there are some events which should not be approached. Perhaps not forever, but not while they are raw.

Simon
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 03, 2008, 09:08:18 PM
So yes, I would agree with Wiesel that there are some events which should not be approached. Perhaps not forever, but not while they are raw.


I think that's fair.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 04, 2008, 12:58:56 PM

I don't have any personal restrictions regarding subject matter. I believe you should write with respect toward your subject, but I don't think there are subjects that shouldn't be touched. Keep in mind though, that I've led a relatively short, sheltered life. If I'd led a life parallel to Wiesel's I might well feel differently.

I interpret Wiesel's comment to mean that no novelist can convey the depth and breadth of the holocaust experience. He's probably right. However, if even what Wiesel would regard as a feeble representation can affect a change or create understanding in a reader, I think it's still worth writing. We may not be able to make people fully understand, but we can perhaps make them want to prevent history from repeating itself.


Incidentally, IMO non-fiction and memoir fall within the realm of art. Anything that is written to express or evoke emotion or empathy is art, even if it consists entirely of facts.

Interesting! And I like your suggestion that one's life experience might well define what's acceptable subject matter. Would you extend your open-mindedness re subject matter to all art forms? Do you draw a definite line for yourself in determining obscenity, exploitation etc?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 04, 2008, 01:22:41 PM
I also think that during the 20th century we were too close to the event itself to gain anything like perspective (which IMO is a component of art). Holocaust studies and literature didn't really appear in large numbers until the 1960s, and even then there were problems with it, since the immensity of the event made it difficult to approach. I am thinking of the alterations to Anne Frank's diary in its' published form, to say nothing of the dramatic shaping given it by the play and subsequent movie.

So yes, I would agree with Wiesel that there are some events which should not be approached. Perhaps not forever, but not while they are raw.

Simon

You've made good points. I also believe novels that take on this kind of grand-scale subject matter are almost doomed to fail by comparison to the real event. To me, the fiction in Suite Francaise rings hollow compared to Klemperer's diary, even though both writers experienced the war firsthand. And although it's a screenplay, I found the fictionalized Jack and Rose story in Titanic completely pointless and even insulting; when you have 3000 stories aboard a ship do you really need to invent a romance?

Would you please elaborate on Anne Frank's diary? I'm not familiar with the alterations.

Thanks, Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on April 04, 2008, 02:06:55 PM
I liked The Titanic very much. The whole point of a movie is entertainment, after all. It was not meant to be a documentary was it?  If you disliked that, you should have seen the musical [awful, took longer to sink that sucker than the real thing!] There have been several films made about the Titantic, all based on fictional characters in a real setting.
 I also disagree that the Holocaust is sacrosanct and not to be touched with fiction.  It is a subject, like any other that should be free to be explored.  An author should be free to  put forward any story he or she wishes.  Whether anyone buys it is another matter. Fiction is a far different standard than non-fiction, after all.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 04, 2008, 02:10:34 PM
I also disagree that the Holocaust is sacrosanct and not to be touched with fiction.  It is a subject, like any other that should be free to be explored. 

I agree, but want to add that some subjects have to be treated with more sensitivity than others. But I don't think any should be avoided completely.

Fiction is a far different standard than non-fiction, after all.

Absolutely!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 04, 2008, 02:43:05 PM
I liked The Titanic very much. The whole point of a movie is entertainment, after all. It was not meant to be a documentary was it?  If you disliked that, you should have seen the musical [awful, took longer to sink that sucker than the real thing!] There have been several films made about the Titantic, all based on fictional characters in a real setting.
 I also disagree that the Holocaust is sacrosanct and not to be touched with fiction.  It is a subject, like any other that should be free to be explored.  An author should be free to  put forward any story he or she wishes.  Whether anyone buys it is another matter. Fiction is a far different standard than non-fiction, after all.


Re Titanic, I enjoyed the movie very much; it was thoroughly entertaining and some of those special effects were out of this world. (I preferred the stripped down version of A Night to Remember however). It's just my opinion that the romance took away from, rather than added to, the film. To me it would be the equivalent of putting a couple of lovestruck teens on the doomed aircraft in United 93.

Do you think victims' or surviviors' wishes should play any part in whether or not a subject receives artistic treatment?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 04, 2008, 02:53:31 PM
Do you think victims' or surviviors' wishes should play any part in whether or not a subject receives artistic treatment?

That's an excellent question! I think it probably depends... The more removed we are from the situation chronologically, the less it would be necessary to consult the victims I suppose (not to mention the fact that all survivors/victims would be deceased after some time). Of course that doesn't mean that it still would not be a sensitive subject to their families... For a something like like 9/11 - because of the fact that it was so recent - and the feelings are still very raw, it would be an extremely delicate matter. I am not sure if anyone should even go there at this time... A little too soon. For something like the Holocaust or the Titanic, it may be somewhat different. Perhaps if they invent a completely fictitious character, not someone who actually existed, it would be easier to handle than if the names of real people are used, and in the latter situation of course the surviving families should be consulted...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Robert_Hall on April 04, 2008, 04:32:25 PM
9/11 is probably still to raw, to Americans,  just as the London bombings are to  them.  But, they are free subjects for writers to explore. I did not see the  United 93 film.  Thought the idea tacky. Hit too close to home [same as the July bombings in London]  Do the survovors of these events,  have a say in how they are depicted?   Well, that is why there is why a disclaimer is in  all films.  Unless there is a portrayal of a real person,  it is simply fiction.  The events may be real, but the people are  just actors, after all.
 There was a brilliant film  DOWNFALL based on the memories of one of Hitler's secretaries that was  widely acclaimed, yet some protested it because it was "sort of" sympathetic.. Well, that is the screenwriters craft, to write a story and out it on film. That is different than  a book, isn't it?  Unfortunately, more people see films now, than read books, it seems.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 04, 2008, 05:00:56 PM
The fact that DOWNFALL was based upon Traudl Junge's memoirs of her life as Hitler's secretary is why there were sympathetic overtones in the depiction of Hitler. Junge said many times that the man she knew was not a monster --- that in some ways, she did not see that Hitler until she began taking down the dictation of his last political will and testament. There is an interesting documentary in which Junge is a talking head for ninety minutes, speaking of her experiences. That might sound boring, but think of her experiences! Anyway, after the war she passed a monument to Sophie Scholl and was struck by the fact that the two of them were the same age. And yet Scholl recognized the intrinsic evil of the Hitler regime enough to die opposing it. Junge said it was only then --- after the war --- that she realized that she could have known that which she did not know.

A lot of Titanic afficiandos (a description that fits me!) objected to Jack and Rose running buckety-buckety in front of the truly wonderful recreation of the ship, but in fact they were necessary. It was the love story that attracted the target audience, i.e. young girls. The movie isn't about the sinking, it is about a 17 year-old girl's journey to self-actualization. And the fact that she got to canoodle with Leonardo as part of the process didn't hurt box office. Witness the difference between cash intake between Cameron's Titanic and A Night to Remember.

For the small group of viewers who truly cared about the actual Titanic, let's face it. During the Jack/Rose dialogue (excruciating, although I thought Winslet and DiCaprio were excellent), we were looking past them to groove on how just right they'd done the paneling, or the clock on the Grand Staircase or . . . well, you get the idea. But if it hadn't been for the Rose character, the movie wouldn't have a titanic commercial success.

9/11 . . . we have a family friend who is 94, sharp as a tack. During World War II she was trapped behind German lines in the Ardennes, during the Battle of the Bulge. She was a nurse in what I suppose was a M*A*S*H unit, and she spent the time dealing with wounded soldiers while the battle raged around the hospital tents. In brief, Mary Lou was not morbid, or sheltered. Unlike most of us, she had personal experience of graphic violence.

Her grandson worked for one of the financial firms in the Trade Center, and died on 9/11. She also lost a son-in-law.  Mary Lou was sharply critical of the image projected by the early rescue workers, or more precisely the television reporters. "As though they will find the bodies sitting at their desks. Those people were pulverized, limbs will be everywhere, they will be pulling small human remnants out of that rubble. Show them that, but don't leave them with the idea that this was anything other than horrific." No swelling music, no resolution of their grief at the end of the picture. Ands to be fair to the reporters, they wanted what everyone else wanted, i.e an easy way to comprehend this horrific event.

I think film by its nature is too shallow a medium to do justice to major historical events, which by their nature are large, messy experiences that defy easy categorization. In a good historical novel we can enter imaginatively into the event --- a film simply shows us pictures, thereby limiting our imagination to what we actually see.

About Anne Frank's diary --- an unexpurgated version has been released, but only since the death of Otto Frank, who controlled the diary. The tag line from the play and movie is something that Anne wrote: "In spite of everything, I still believe that people are basically good." But it is not all that she wrote, and there is serious questioning of the use of this sentiment as a valedictory for her entire life. There was a need for a survivor (sound familiar?) and at least part of that need was satisfied by the Anne Frank of the play. The plucky little girl who made lemonade out of the lemons that were dealt to her. And yes, that is a part of Anne, but not all. She was a human being, and more complicated than the Anne displayed in the play and movie. Other characters were also presented in their best light. There is an interesting take on this in Philip Roth's The Ghost Writer, which uses the distasteful (to me) premise that Anne survived, but could not reveal this because of the impact her diary had. I don't like the novel, but it's pretty damned brilliant.

Simon



Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 04, 2008, 05:45:48 PM
Would you please elaborate on Anne Frank's diary? I'm not familiar with the alterations.


There are essentially three versions of Anne Frank's diary. Version A is the original she-wrote-it-as-it-happened diary (sections of this version are lost/missing). Version B is a revised edition Anne worked on herself in captivity, with a view toward publication (this fills in the gaps in Version A). Version C is the edition published under the name "The Diary of a Young Girl (http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Frank-Diary-Young-Girl/dp/0553296981/ref=pd_bbs_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207349028&sr=1-2)." Otto Frank used parts of both the A and B versions to create Version C. He also omitted a handful of entries entirely. Version C is the edition most readers are familiar with.

The Definitive Edition (http://www.amazon.com/Anne-Frank-Diary-Young-Definitive/dp/0385473788/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1207348922&sr=1-2) was published in the 1990's and contains 30% more material -- most of which was deemed too sensitive for publication by Otto Frank in the 1947. It's also a fresh translation. Some entries are still missing from this version.

If you want to see a side-by-side comparison of all three versions, as well as the previously omitted entries, get ahold of a copy of The Revised Critical Edition (http://www.amazon.com/Diary-Anne-Frank-Revised-Critical/dp/0385508476). It's the whole shebang.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 05, 2008, 11:52:47 AM
9/11 is probably still to raw, to Americans,  just as the London bombings are to  them.  But, they are free subjects for writers to explore. I did not see the  United 93 film.  Thought the idea tacky.

Speaking as someone with no connection to Sept 11 other than as an American, I own the United 93 dvd and regard it as a masterpiece of docudrama. I appreciate your decision not to see it and respect your reasoning, but would you feel more comfortable knowing that most family members supported the film? From what I've read, controversy among those directly involved focused primarily on whether or not to portray passenger heroism collectively or case by case. A touchy subject to be sure. Unfortunately, short attention spans being what they are, film, books, annual ceremonies etc. are often the only means of reconnecting to that unforgettable day for the public at large.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 05, 2008, 12:04:43 PM
The fact that DOWNFALL was based upon Traudl Junge's memoirs of her life as Hitler's secretary is why there were sympathetic overtones in the depiction of Hitler. Junge said many times that the man she knew was not a monster --- that in some ways, she did not see that Hitler until she began taking down the dictation of his last political will and testament. There is an interesting documentary in which Junge is a talking head for ninety minutes, speaking of her experiences. That might sound boring, but think of her experiences! Anyway, after the war she passed a monument to Sophie Scholl and was struck by the fact that the two of them were the same age. And yet Scholl recognized the intrinsic evil of the Hitler regime enough to die opposing it. Junge said it was only then --- after the war --- that she realized that she could have known that which she did not know.


Ah Downfall, a brilliant film on so many levels! I don't have a problem with the "sympathetic" portrayal of Hitler and entourage; enough of their cold-bloodedness, warped thought processes and detachment from reality still came through to chill the soul. In any case, even the vilest, most evil man has some remnant of humanity within, Hitler's affection for Blondi, for example. (And no I'm not suggesting this redeems him in any way)!

My question: do you take Junge's memoirs at face value?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 05, 2008, 12:22:47 PM
A lot of Titanic afficiandos (a description that fits me!) objected to Jack and Rose running buckety-buckety in front of the truly wonderful recreation of the ship, but in fact they were necessary. It was the love story that attracted the target audience, i.e. young girls. The movie isn't about the sinking, it is about a 17 year-old girl's journey to self-actualization. And the fact that she got to canoodle with Leonardo as part of the process didn't hurt box office. Witness the difference between cash intake between Cameron's Titanic and A Night to Remember.

For the small group of viewers who truly cared about the actual Titanic, let's face it. During the Jack/Rose dialogue (excruciating, although I thought Winslet and DiCaprio were excellent), we were looking past them to groove on how just right they'd done the paneling, or the clock on the Grand Staircase or . . . well, you get the idea. But if it hadn't been for the Rose character, the movie wouldn't have a titanic commercial success.


So in this case commercial interests trumped reality. Of course there will always be commercial concerns and a target audience. I just can't get over the feeling there were 3000 possible stories and enough source material that this could have been an excellent docudrama. Oh, and I loathed the lead actors! (Maybe that has something to do with it?)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 05, 2008, 12:26:53 PM
Thank you Sarushka and Simon for the backstory on Anne Frank. It's been a long time but now I feel compelled to revisit this book.

Sarushka, what do you think of the Helen Keller photo making the rounds recently? It was the most poignant pic I've seen in ages.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 05, 2008, 12:32:32 PM
Thank you Sarushka and Simon for the backstory on Anne Frank. It's been a long time but now I feel compelled to revisit this book.

Aside from the insight into Anne herself, the Critical Edition of the diary is a fascinating look inside the writing/editing process.


Quote
Sarushka, what do you think of the Helen Keller photo making the rounds recently? It was the most poignant pic I've seen in ages.

I think you probably could have heard my jaw drop coast-to-coast when I saw that photo. Honestly, I was dumbfounded and gibbering for nearly 2 hours. It's an astonishingly perfect portrait of the way I portray Annie & Helen in Miss Spitfire.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 05, 2008, 12:59:29 PM
The fact that DOWNFALL was based upon Traudl Junge's memoirs of her life as Hitler's secretary is why there were sympathetic overtones in the depiction of Hitler. Junge said many times that the man she knew was not a monster --- that in some ways, she did not see that Hitler until she began taking down the dictation of his last political will and testament. There is an interesting documentary in which Junge is a talking head for ninety minutes, speaking of her experiences. That might sound boring, but think of her experiences! Anyway, after the war she passed a monument to Sophie Scholl and was struck by the fact that the two of them were the same age. And yet Scholl recognized the intrinsic evil of the Hitler regime enough to die opposing it. Junge said it was only then --- after the war --- that she realized that she could have known that which she did not know.


Ah Downfall, a brilliant film on so many levels! I don't have a problem with the "sympathetic" portrayal of Hitler and entourage; enough of their cold-bloodedness, warped thought processes and detachment from reality still came through to chill the soul. In any case, even the vilest, most evil man has some remnant of humanity within, Hitler's affection for Blondi, for example. (And no I'm not suggesting this redeems him in any way)!

My question: do you take Junge's memoirs at face value?

The short answer is "no" as far as Traudl Junge is concerned, but I have to say that I have not delved into it deeply. Call it a gut feeling, based upon Gitta Sereny's work with Albert Speer. She did her level best to pin him down to a real statement of personal responsibility for his actions, and even though I think she demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that his memoirs and subsequent interviews about his role were self-serving, Speer would never admit it. The overwhelming impression I get from people like Speer and Junge who is that they cannot confront in a meaningful way what they did. I suppose if they did confront it, suicide would be the only option? I don't know. I think that the makers of DOWNFALL were aware that Junge is a problematic source --- especially if they relied only upon her, which thankfully they didn't.

I really don't think film accomplishes much in this area, i.e. letting us know what was really happening. It diminishes it, because it imposes limitations upon what should not be limited --- and here I am speaking of huge events.The Shoah, American slavery, things like that. 

Simon

And yes, to the Annie/Helen picture. I have directed The Miracle Worker twice, and wish that the picture had been available when I did the shows. The whole relationship dynamic is in their pose and faces.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 05, 2008, 01:41:47 PM
Ah Downfall, a brilliant film on so many levels!

Yes!

I don't have a problem with the "sympathetic" portrayal of Hitler and entourage; enough of their cold-bloodedness, warped thought processes and detachment from reality still came through to chill the soul.

I feel the same way. In fact, I am not sure how sympathetic the portrayal was. It was obvious that the film took the perspective of this woman and it was her reality that was coming through the lens, so to speak. Which I think is what made it so brilliant.

My question: do you take Junge's memoirs at face value?

Of course not.

Has anyone watched it with director's comments? (this feature is available on DVD and is well worth watching).



Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 05, 2008, 02:11:28 PM
Speaking as someone with no connection to Sept 11 other than as an American, I own the United 93 dvd and regard it as a masterpiece of docudrama.

Speaking as someone who has a lot of personal connection to 9/11, I saw this film and liked it, although it brought on a lot of unpleasant memories and thoughts. So I think we each have different "tolerance", if that's the right word, and perspective on these things. None of us can speak for anyone else, even if we have been in similar situations.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 06, 2008, 10:17:59 AM
Apologies for veering so far off topic, but it's worth it for those who haven't seen the Helen Keller photo:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23489779/

Simon I agree with you about books taking you places films cannot; but isn't it amazing how one photograph can somehow capture a world? Sarushka, your book is going on my reading list!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 06, 2008, 10:34:03 AM
I don't want to make it sound as though I don't like movies --- I do. But I usually like them for the pictures as opposed to the dialogue these days (old films are a different kettle of fish). Is anyone watching John Adams on HBO? Giamatti and Linney are sensational, the script is intelligent and doesn't take too many liberties with the truth, the sets and costumes brilliant . . . but I find myself going back to McCullough's book to try and understand him.

These kinds of movies (Flight 93 seem to fall into a different category than historical "fiction" in the minds of viewers, though, and I am not sure that they should. They aren't as egregious as The Other Boleyn Girl or The Tudors, but they still have the same impact. They become history for those who see them, and who go no further in their interest.

I'm probably just being picky. I find it almost impossible to imagine Sir Thomas More without referencing Paul Scofield's image and performance. Movies have more potency than the written word. Is that a good thing?

Simon
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 06, 2008, 11:18:46 AM
Is anyone watching John Adams on HBO? Giamatti and Linney are sensational, the script is intelligent and doesn't take too many liberties with the truth, the sets and costumes brilliant . . . but I find myself going back to McCullough's book to try and understand him.

I'm so bummed I missed the first part of this series; I refuse to start in the middle. I'm hoping HBO will re-air it, or my library will pick it up on DVD. I LOVED McCullough's book.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 06, 2008, 11:33:17 AM
Yuh, I missed the first episode as well. Most of the subsequent episodes have seemed pretty self-contained, though, so you can dip into it without spoiling the overall effect. But yes, I will also be buying the DVD. I'm curious. How do you rate the film of The Miracle Worker as accurately conveying the truth of the Keller/Sullivan relationship?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 06, 2008, 03:18:43 PM
On the topic of historical 'fiction'- not real fiction, but fictionalization (via dramatization) of actual people and events is another category to discuss. When does it cross the line to become real fiction? Will we ever know? Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, though based on real people and events in her own life, are listed in the library as fiction, probably because it wasn't totally accurate and some things were added or subtracted to make it more interesting. The show of course took far greater liberties with the characters and their lives until Rodger MacBride, who was given the rights to Laura's stories, refused to be associated with it anymore. The same thing with the Waltons, they were real, but most of the episodes were not fact based. The creator who was 'John Boy' in real life didn't even write most of the episodes, and as years went by it became less and less what happened to the real family. These, of course, were for the benefit of the network.

What about Alex Haley's Roots? Haley spent years researching his family and writing the book and it was, like Laura's, based on real people and events. However, most of the people were dead, and all Alex really had to go on were a few names, records and old family stories. Does this make a whole thick book and two long miniseries, or were they, like "Little House" and "Waltons", dramatized and exaggerated to make them more interesting? How much of what he wrote was real, and how much was 'fill in the blanks?'  I heard once years ago that some people wanted Haley's book moved to nonfiction for this reason. He really didn't know everything that happened, so surely most of what we read and saw in the show was only assumed and written more like a novel. Do we really know that Dr. Reynolds' wife slept with his brother, or was this made up? Some of the details he even tried to make accurate turned out to be wrong. Much is made of Kunta Kinte being a Muslim, praying to Allah and refusing to eat 'pig meat', yet in reality, the Mandinka tribe was not converted to Islam until the 1850's, and Kunta was taken to America in the 1760's. So he would have been a member of a tribal religion instead. Could this influence have come from Haley's own experience with Malcolm X, whose bio he penned? The fact remains, it was inaccurate yet presented as truth. The list could go on and on, but my question is, when does a true story become historical fiction based on the amount of 'added info' along the way?

*for the record, I am a HUGE fan of Roots, Little House, and the Waltons so I am NOT bashing!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 06, 2008, 03:31:37 PM
I think that most viewers accept the fact that some dramatic license has to be taken in order to give dramatic shape to a movie or television series. The problem is that if they are successful --- as were all three of the shows you mention --- then they tend to replace the books upon which they were based in the public mind. It's a problem with plays too, of course --- Shakespeare's Richard III is not history's Richard III, for example.

I don't know if there is an answer to this question, although if the film/show is designed as pure entertainment, I think it lets the creators mostly off the hook. I tended to think of the Little House on the Prairie series --- which I didn't like --- as a completely separate thing from the books, which I did.

Did Haley specifically hang Roots around his own family, or did he intend it as a paradigm for the black experience in America? I read it so long ago I don't remember.

I suppose in the end it is up to the individual reader/viewer if it is a problem.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 06, 2008, 04:10:31 PM
I think that most viewers accept the fact that some dramatic license has to be taken in order to give dramatic shape to a movie or television series. The problem is that if they are successful --- as were all three of the shows you mention --- then they tend to replace the books upon which they were based in the public mind. It's a problem with plays too, of course --- Shakespeare's Richard III is not history's Richard III, for example.

Yes, that is a shame, and has even happened to Tolkien's books because of the movies (though they are of course not true) I was also worried that the Pocahontas and Anastasia cartoons would do the same, but at least in the case of Anastasia it seems to have had the opposite reaction. A lot of the posters we have here now who like OTMA got interested because of the cartoon and explored more and found out the truth, which got them interested in the real thing.

Quote
I don't know if there is an answer to this question, although if the film/show is designed as pure entertainment, I think it lets the creators mostly off the hook.

In that way it may, though if some of the relatives were alive and had been portrayed wrong they may have been upset, unless they were paid well (j/k)

Quote
I tended to think of the Little House on the Prairie series --- which I didn't like --- as a completely separate thing from the books, which I did.

Well now here I agree with you on something! I watched the show, but never liked it nearly as much as the books. The early seasons were tolerable because they were similar to the books, but the later seasons were unbearable! I cringed once they started taking in all those extra orphans. Nelly's resturaunt, Ma taking it over, that was awful! They completely changed and ruined Laura and Almanzo's courtship. Oh and the Mary going blind part and the nonexistent husband and the blind school, whatever! Not moving them to De Smet, the chamber of commerce was furious! I could rant on this for a long time but I won't.

When I was reading the books (in the fourth-fifth grades) I got a certain image of the characters, their looks, personalities and surroundings in my mind, and I got so close to it that it took on a certain feeling- one I never got from the show. The way the actors portrayed the parts were not what I had imagined or the message I got from the book. Most off was "Pa", and later Laura. What a bitch she became on "A New Beginning", not like the real girl at all! I hated her! Even now when I read the books, I can still see them the way the book explained them to me originally, and I don't see the show characters or set at all.(My son said the same thing about LOTR movies and the Tolkien books, he'd read them in fourth grade several years before the movies came out)

Quote
Did Haley specifically hang Roots around his own family, or did he intend it as a paradigm for the black experience in America? I read it so long ago I don't remember.

I suppose in the end it is up to the individual reader/viewer if it is a problem.

I really don't know if that was his goal or not. I guess my main question was, on the topic of 'author's obligation', should his book be in the nonfiction section, used as reference and quoted in school papers,  if the story inside was indeed fictionalized and dramatized as much as "Little House" and "The Waltons" ?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 06, 2008, 07:12:17 PM
I'm curious. How do you rate the film of The Miracle Worker as accurately conveying the truth of the Keller/Sullivan relationship?

Speaking specifically about the 1962 version starring Bancroft and Duke, which I believe is the ONLY version worth looking at....

I think the film version of The Miracle Worker does an excellent job of conveying the intensity of those first few weeks. The portrayal of those initial interactions are very accurate. Emotionally, there are a few beats missing. Annie's fire and drive are certainly there, but IMO her vulnerability and neediness are somewhat lacking. Annie was a tremendously wounded person, and I don't think that comes through clearly. I think in the end we feel more for Helen than for Annie, whereas in reality that moment at the pump was every bit as much of a turning point for Annie as it was for Helen.  Also, in the film Annie's love for Helen develops gradually, almost reluctantly. In reality, I believe Annie almost immediately felt a strong desire for Helen to love her.

My only actual beef with the film is that Annie would NEVER have told the Kellers she grew up in an asylum. She was far too proud and ashamed to admit to that. Even Helen Keller didn't know the truth about Annie's past until the 1920's.


Another point that's relevant to the topic:
Gibson made what seems like a small reversal in the facts: in the play Helen speaks for the first time in the famous water pump scene, when in reality she'd been saying "wah-wah" every time she touched water since she lost her sight and hearing. Sounds like no big deal, right? It sure increases the dramatic impact of the scene, and helps anyone sitting in row V understand what's going on even if they can't see Helen fingerspelling under the flowing water. Trouble is, it inadvertently encourages society's prejudice that spoken language is superior to signed language.

To avoid perpetuating that notion in Miss Spitfire, I had to let Helen say “wah-wah” every time she touched it (which is a massive pain in the tush when you're trying to convince your readers that Helen doesn't understand the concept of words). When she finally understands the meaning of the letters w-a-t-e-r at the pump in chapter 29, she cuts off her “wah-wah” mid-syllable and begins to spell the word instead of saying it. As in reality, signed language overtakes spoken. I hope that simple reversal will help to show that the form language takes doesn’t matter.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 06, 2008, 07:34:31 PM
Hunh. If I had ever heard that she said "wah-wah" prior to the pump I had forgotten it. I get why Gibson did it, but it could have been carried off if he had left the reality intact. In fact, I think the fact that she had been sending these inadvertent messages in a bottle to the outside world would have been just as poignant --- Annie is finally the person who can tell Helen what she is saying when even she no longer remembers the connection to a time before the illness.

I like your solution in Miss Spitfire.

I know the thread is about the responsibility of the author to the reader/viewer, but I think it is the audience itself that frequently shapes the work, so they have some "responsibility" here as well. Each generation projects its own experiences and values onto the works of, say, William Shakespeare --- look at the difference between the Branagh and Olivier Henry V movies. On a more simplistic level, I think this is one explanation for why the television show Little House on the Prairie (the television series) too the shape it did. Landon consciously shaped it in a way that Wilder didn't --- the show was a fountain of emotion, while the books are far more understated. Again, they were playing to their base audience with the television show, and the base audience for a television show in the 70s and 80s weren't looking for anything too complex.

Simon
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Joanna on April 06, 2008, 09:01:23 PM
When finding Marfa Mouchanov’s ‘My Empress’ in the reference library (I do not remember year of publication) that gave an intimate view of Alexandra’s life in the early years of her marriage, I was enthralled. It was only in the last ten years either through Paul Minet’s Royalty Digest’s articles or an internet site, that I understood that Marfa Mouchanov was not a member of  the Empress’ household and it is unknown who the author was. It makes for a disregard of the information unless a second original source confirms the event/description. If an author replicates references to Moucha’s work, I tend to question or ignore.

The same has occurred with Catherine Radziwill’s work although some volumes were published under the name of Paul Vassili when she returned to St. Petersburg c1910s and under the eyes of the Section IV. Do we disregard the whole if parts are farfetched i.e. references to Orlov’s death. And yet we know she had access to insider information through her friendships but there is the sensational aspect and in her later writings she published by memory under monetary need. One piece of information that I came across in her recent biography by Leda Farrant was that Empress Marie Feodorovna did not attend the French ball held the day of the Klodynka tragedy. Is that true? Are there other sources to confirm. It becomes a maze trying to search for facts!

Simon, It was sad to read in March of the death of Paul Scofield. I had not seen of him for a long time and my memory retains his performance in A Man For All Seasons.

Joanna
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 06, 2008, 10:21:13 PM
When finding Marfa Mouchanov’s ‘My Empress’ in the reference library (I do not remember year of publication) that gave an intimate view of Alexandra’s life in the early years of her marriage, I was enthralled. It was only in the last ten years either through Paul Minet’s Royalty Digest’s articles or an internet site, that I understood that Marfa Mouchanov was not a member of  the Empress’ household and it is unknown who the author was. It makes for a disregard of the information unless a second original source confirms the event/description. If an author replicates references to Moucha’s work, I tend to question or ignore.

Precisely why I don't care for Carolly Erickson's biography of Alexandra (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/books.html?sku=66). Erickson uses Mouchanow as a source, but in the absence of footnotes it's difficult to know which information is realiable. Greg King also used Mouchanow occasionally, but it's very simple to verify the source of any questionable info through his footnotes. I much prefer his Last Empress (http://www.alexanderpalace.org/palace/books.html?sku=12) to Erickson's work.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: grandduchessella on April 07, 2008, 09:36:30 AM
Is anyone watching John Adams on HBO? Giamatti and Linney are sensational, the script is intelligent and doesn't take too many liberties with the truth, the sets and costumes brilliant . . . but I find myself going back to McCullough's book to try and understand him.

I'm so bummed I missed the first part of this series; I refuse to start in the middle. I'm hoping HBO will re-air it, or my library will pick it up on DVD. I LOVED McCullough's book.

If your cable service has the free 'on demand' service, all 4 parts are available until 5/19. Of course, the HBO on demands are only 'free' if you're already an HBO subscriber--not meaning to raise any non-subscribers's hopes.  :)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: grandduchessella on April 07, 2008, 09:38:53 AM

What about Alex Haley's Roots? Haley spent years researching his family and writing the book and it was, like Laura's, based on real people and events. However, most of the people were dead, and all Alex really had to go on were a few names, records and old family stories. Does this make a whole thick book and two long miniseries, or were they, like "Little House" and "Waltons", dramatized and exaggerated to make them more interesting? How much of what he wrote was real, and how much was 'fill in the blanks?'  I heard once years ago that some people wanted Haley's book moved to nonfiction for this reason. He really didn't know everything that happened, so surely most of what we read and saw in the show was only assumed and written more like a novel. Do we really know that Dr. Reynolds' wife slept with his brother, or was this made up? Some of the details he even tried to make accurate turned out to be wrong. Much is made of Kunta Kinte being a Muslim, praying to Allah and refusing to eat 'pig meat', yet in reality, the Mandinka tribe was not converted to Islam until the 1850's, and Kunta was taken to America in the 1760's. So he would have been a member of a tribal religion instead. Could this influence have come from Haley's own experience with Malcolm X, whose bio he penned? The fact remains, it was inaccurate yet presented as truth. The list could go on and on, but my question is, when does a true story become historical fiction based on the amount of 'added info' along the way?


Interestingly, the Dewey Decimal classification for Roots (the movie) puts it in the non-fiction section. I found that rather surprising.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 07, 2008, 11:02:51 AM

The short answer is "no" as far as Traudl Junge is concerned, but I have to say that I have not delved into it deeply. Call it a gut feeling, based upon Gitta Sereny's work with Albert Speer. She did her level best to pin him down to a real statement of personal responsibility for his actions, and even though I think she demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that his memoirs and subsequent interviews about his role were self-serving, Speer would never admit it. The overwhelming impression I get from people like Speer and Junge who is that they cannot confront in a meaningful way what they did. I suppose if they did confront it, suicide would be the only option? I don't know. I think that the makers of DOWNFALL were aware that Junge is a problematic source --- especially if they relied only upon her, which thankfully they didn't.


Is there such a thing as a truly honest memoir? For me the trick is trying to separate the self-serving statements from the unvarnished truth. When I read Speer's memoirs I see him attempting to understand how he came under and remained under Hitler's spell, but it doesn't ring true; to me it reads more like damage control. And it amazes me to no end how all those Nazi leaders in the dock at Nuremberg suffered a kind of collective amnesia; even Goering and Speer, who both "accepted" responsibility still claimed they didn't really know what was happening in the extermination camps. Interestingly, if you read the interviews of those who did know, Hoess and Ohlendorf, for example, they come off as the most colorless, emotionless, robotic people imaginable. The complete opposite of Peter Erkamov!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 07, 2008, 11:04:34 AM
Speaking as someone with no connection to Sept 11 other than as an American, I own the United 93 dvd and regard it as a masterpiece of docudrama.

Speaking as someone who has a lot of personal connection to 9/11, I saw this film and liked it, although it brought on a lot of unpleasant memories and thoughts. So I think we each have different "tolerance", if that's the right word, and perspective on these things. None of us can speak for anyone else, even if we have been in similar situations.

What did you think of the ending?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on April 07, 2008, 11:07:33 AM

I'm probably just being picky. I find it almost impossible to imagine Sir Thomas More without referencing Paul Scofield's image and performance. Movies have more potency than the written word. Is that a good thing?

Simon

Perhaps I don't understand what you mean here. Aren't books almost always more potent than the movies they inspire?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 07, 2008, 11:20:46 AM
Goering wanted to seen as the heir to Hitler even at the trials, and while he may have claimed to be unaware of the camps he was (1) certainly lying and (2) wouldn't have particularly cared had he been forced to admit he knew about them in open court --- Goering knew he wasn't getting out of the trial with anything less than a death sentence.

I think Speer managed his defense quite cannily, and managed to convince the tribunal that he had been excluded from the decisions that created the extermination camps. Which may have been true, given the arc of his career and interests, but it defies common sense that he was not aware of them after he became Reichsminister for war production. In any event, he made use of slave labor.

And you're right, of course, there is no such thing as a "truly honest" memoir, but I think there is at least a  sliding scale of honesty for most of them. Speer's Inside the Third Reich and Spandau Diaries seem completely self-serving to me as attempts to justify himself before the world. And the only way to do that was to disassociate himself from the actual action, i.e. "well, I didn't do it personally, so while I can deplore it" --- which he certainly didn't do at the time --- "and accept the general responsibility that all Germans have, it is still a big mystery how it happened. That Hitler, what a charmer!"

He may even have persuaded himself that this was so --- Sereny wasn't so sure --- but, really, what else could he try to do? How else could one live with oneself? Especially if you were as intelligent as Speer. Traudl Junge, on the other hand, comes across as someone who didn't do a lot of self-examination until the end of her life.

And I think books are more potent if the reader is critical, or imaginative. But movies have much bigger audiences than books, and I am afraid that in the end they shape the opinions of far more people. They also take less time to consume, so they enter the system of the viewer faster, so to speak.

Oh, dear. I think I just made movies sound like drugs. That seems a little extreme. But I hope it makes my point clearer.

Simon

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 07, 2008, 12:17:03 PM

What about Alex Haley's Roots? Haley spent years researching his family and writing the book and it was, like Laura's, based on real people and events. However, most of the people were dead, and all Alex really had to go on were a few names, records and old family stories. Does this make a whole thick book and two long miniseries, or were they, like "Little House" and "Waltons", dramatized and exaggerated to make them more interesting? How much of what he wrote was real, and how much was 'fill in the blanks?'  I heard once years ago that some people wanted Haley's book moved to nonfiction for this reason. He really didn't know everything that happened, so surely most of what we read and saw in the show was only assumed and written more like a novel. Do we really know that Dr. Reynolds' wife slept with his brother, or was this made up? Some of the details he even tried to make accurate turned out to be wrong. Much is made of Kunta Kinte being a Muslim, praying to Allah and refusing to eat 'pig meat', yet in reality, the Mandinka tribe was not converted to Islam until the 1850's, and Kunta was taken to America in the 1760's. So he would have been a member of a tribal religion instead. Could this influence have come from Haley's own experience with Malcolm X, whose bio he penned? The fact remains, it was inaccurate yet presented as truth. The list could go on and on, but my question is, when does a true story become historical fiction based on the amount of 'added info' along the way?


Interestingly, the Dewey Decimal classification for Roots (the movie) puts it in the non-fiction section. I found that rather surprising.

I knew that it was when it first came out, but I had heard a few years later that, due to it being so heavily filled with hypothetical situations, dialogue and  dramatizations, it was going to lose its nonfiction status. If it did, they must have put it back. I still feel it's in the same category with Little House and The Waltons, (and there were books that inspired the Waltons, too) old family stories elaborated on, and therefore not 'nonfiction.' (again, I am a fan of all three, not bashing)
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 07, 2008, 12:35:31 PM
Is anyone familiar with Lillian Hellman's memoir Pentimento? It came out around the same time as Roots. One of her chapters was called "Julia" and it became the basis for the movie of the same name with Jane Fonda and Vanessa Redgrave (one of whom may have won the Oscar, I think). Anyway, Hellman tells the story of a courageous anti-Nazi friend of her whom she calls "Julia", and includes the story of how Hellman assisted her in smuggling money through Germany. Very exciting.

And almost certainly not true. A woman with a similar background to the fictional "Julia's" (and who shared a publisher with Hellman) wrote to Hellman basically asking, "what the hell? That's my story, and you were no part of it." Hellman refused to meet with her and her lawyer, but the reputation of the book was tarnished.

And yet it still sits in the non-fiction section of the library.

I wonder if the Dewey and LC systems were simply not designed with material like Roots and Pentimento in mind? And incidentally, "Julia" is a great read, and a wonderful movie.

Simon
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: grandduchessella on April 07, 2008, 10:00:43 PM

What about Alex Haley's Roots? Haley spent years researching his family and writing the book and it was, like Laura's, based on real people and events. However, most of the people were dead, and all Alex really had to go on were a few names, records and old family stories. Does this make a whole thick book and two long miniseries, or were they, like "Little House" and "Waltons", dramatized and exaggerated to make them more interesting? How much of what he wrote was real, and how much was 'fill in the blanks?'  I heard once years ago that some people wanted Haley's book moved to nonfiction for this reason. He really didn't know everything that happened, so surely most of what we read and saw in the show was only assumed and written more like a novel. Do we really know that Dr. Reynolds' wife slept with his brother, or was this made up? Some of the details he even tried to make accurate turned out to be wrong. Much is made of Kunta Kinte being a Muslim, praying to Allah and refusing to eat 'pig meat', yet in reality, the Mandinka tribe was not converted to Islam until the 1850's, and Kunta was taken to America in the 1760's. So he would have been a member of a tribal religion instead. Could this influence have come from Haley's own experience with Malcolm X, whose bio he penned? The fact remains, it was inaccurate yet presented as truth. The list could go on and on, but my question is, when does a true story become historical fiction based on the amount of 'added info' along the way?


Interestingly, the Dewey Decimal classification for Roots (the movie) puts it in the non-fiction section. I found that rather surprising.

I knew that it was when it first came out, but I had heard a few years later that, due to it being so heavily filled with hypothetical situations, dialogue and  dramatizations, it was going to lose its nonfiction status. If it did, they must have put it back. I still feel it's in the same category with Little House and The Waltons, (and there were books that inspired the Waltons, too) old family stories elaborated on, and therefore not 'nonfiction.' (again, I am a fan of all three, not bashing)

Or some libraries, like the one I worked in, didn't re-classify it when it changed. I don't know.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 08, 2008, 10:45:57 AM

What about Alex Haley's Roots? Haley spent years researching his family and writing the book and it was, like Laura's, based on real people and events. However, most of the people were dead, and all Alex really had to go on were a few names, records and old family stories. Does this make a whole thick book and two long miniseries, or were they, like "Little House" and "Waltons", dramatized and exaggerated to make them more interesting? How much of what he wrote was real, and how much was 'fill in the blanks?'  I heard once years ago that some people wanted Haley's book moved to nonfiction for this reason. He really didn't know everything that happened, so surely most of what we read and saw in the show was only assumed and written more like a novel. Do we really know that Dr. Reynolds' wife slept with his brother, or was this made up? Some of the details he even tried to make accurate turned out to be wrong. Much is made of Kunta Kinte being a Muslim, praying to Allah and refusing to eat 'pig meat', yet in reality, the Mandinka tribe was not converted to Islam until the 1850's, and Kunta was taken to America in the 1760's. So he would have been a member of a tribal religion instead. Could this influence have come from Haley's own experience with Malcolm X, whose bio he penned? The fact remains, it was inaccurate yet presented as truth. The list could go on and on, but my question is, when does a true story become historical fiction based on the amount of 'added info' along the way?


Interestingly, the Dewey Decimal classification for Roots (the movie) puts it in the non-fiction section. I found that rather surprising.

I knew that it was when it first came out, but I had heard a few years later that, due to it being so heavily filled with hypothetical situations, dialogue and  dramatizations, it was going to lose its nonfiction status. If it did, they must have put it back. I still feel it's in the same category with Little House and The Waltons, (and there were books that inspired the Waltons, too) old family stories elaborated on, and therefore not 'nonfiction.' (again, I am a fan of all three, not bashing)

Or some libraries, like the one I worked in, didn't re-classify it when it changed. I don't know.

Maybe they never officially did it, I just heard they were supposed to.

On the subject of John Adams (miniseries) has anyone noticed that Adams seems to be the only character who ages? Jefferson doesn't, and keeping Abigail young, slim, attractive, fashionable, with her still dark hair in ringlets like a young girl really stands out. I noticed last night, after he was president, how young they are keeping her compared to him. Look at the hat they had her in last night in the last scene.  It doesn't fit. In real life, by that time, she was as pudgy, dumpy and grey haired as he was!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: imperial angel on April 08, 2008, 02:26:20 PM
Certainly how fictionalization is permissible with history is a big question. With movies, it is inevitable, and hopefully gets more people interested. If things like the Anastasia cartoon, the Little House tv series, and the Titanic movie get more people interested in Anastasia and the Romanovs, Laura Ingalls Wilder's real books and real life, and the real story of the Titanic, then that is great. I think that is a role that tv shows and movies can fill, by bringing these things to people who may not know enough to get interested otherwise. Some fictionlization is okay. I thought the movie Titanic was more about the love story and less about the ship, but that was okay, I enjoyed the movie. At least it got people thinking about the real thing, and knowing more about the real event, in some ways. It was useful to have visual images to me however inaccurate, because those photos that remain of the ship never really conveyed it me. The movie did. I wa interested in the Titanic before the movie though.

As for the Little House tv series, I have never seen that much of it, because I didn't see much of the books in it. That wasn't how I saw it from the books and from reading anything about Laura's life apart from the books. I think it probably did spread interest in the Little House Books more, and familiarize people with Laura who weren't familiar with her, even though there are alot of fictional things in there. One bad thing about fictionalized tv shows based on historical fiction, like the Little House books are is people see that, never read the books or look at the real Laura's life, then assume that the same thing is in the books/ or her real life as the show. I was a tour guide at one of the Little House sites, and gave tours to people whose ONLY familiarity with Laura was through the tv show. They believed all the things about Mary's husband, and the rest of the things Annie lists were real. They were sometimes not sure if it was real or fiction, because they knew tv shows can be fictional. I was talking about the real Laura's life in addition to the stuff in the books, as for example, Burr Oak, Iowa is never mentioned in the books, but they lived there, so there were alot of stuff to go through. So I pointed out to people if they said Mary's husband was real for example, that wasn't the case. Some people just refused to believe though that the stuff on the show wasn't real, when I said so, although I am an expert on LIW anything. They prefered to believe what they had seen on the show. That is I guess why the line between history and fiction needs to be respected certainly in anything labeled history. If a show, a movie or historical fiction, then liberties are okay, but you would hope that people would believe the truth when it was pointed out to them, and not the movie, show, or historical fiction book of whatever you were talking about. I guess if people want to believe the Little House show is accurate, not the real  Laura's life and to some extent her books, they can. I got interested in the Romanovs to some extent through the Anastasia cartoon, but I wanted to know if those things were true or not, I wanted to know the truth.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 13, 2008, 01:37:13 PM
Here's a new one...

Travel writer tells newspaper he plagiarized, dealt drugs: http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/04/13/lonely.planet/index.html
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Alixz on April 13, 2008, 10:59:20 PM
The problem with a long running TV series like "Little House" is that the writers run out of the truth.  As the actors grow up the writers have to do something to keep viewer's interest and so they invent.

Even fictional shows get "old" and so a nephew or orphan or new baby is brought in to keep things interesting.

I love to read more than watch so anytime I get interested a subject that I have seen portrayed on TV or in a movie, I go to get the book it was based on.  But IA is right when she says that there are a lot of people who get their information solely from the TV or the movies and never get the real information from the source.

I had a note to myself for a long time to get a copy of The Night Listener by Armistead Maupin.  I couldn't even remember why I had the note or what had prompted me to write it.  So I got the book (which I haven' had time to get to yet) and looked it up on the Internet.  I found that there was a movie starring Robin Williams (not as a comedian) playing the lead (who is actually Maupin himself in real life).

Now I remember that I had seen the movie on TV and was interested that it was based on a true story and I wanted to get the facts.  I am looking forward to reading it as soon as I finish the three other books I am reading simultaneously.  (I tend to do that)

It was in that way that I discovered Richard Matheson.  The move Somewhere In Time peaked my interest and so I waited out the credits to find out that the movie was based on Matheson's book Bid Time Return (which I think is a quote from Shakespeare's Richard III).  Of course the book was different and more interesting than the movie, but I found a new author to explore and since I have always been interested in that "Son of York", I had other things to go and find out as well.

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 14, 2008, 06:28:34 PM
And what do you guys think of this one?

J.K. Rowling, in Court, Assails Potter Lexicon  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/14/books/14potter.html?_r=1&ref=books&oref=slogin

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Louis_Charles on April 14, 2008, 06:57:05 PM
My guess is that she is going to win, since the encyclopedia falls outside the category of "fan-fiction" and is indeed designed to make money for the publisher.. Gregory MacGuire, the author of Wicked was alright because the Oz books have left copyright, I think. But Rowling is more like Disney, which has the reputation of slamming hard into anyone who infringes their characters (she may even be richer than Disney at this point), because they are still in copyright --- I think it's nice she doesn't go after purely fannish sites, although there is a whole subculture of somewhat icky "slash" stuff in regard to Harry and Draco and Ron that it would be nice to see squished.

Simon
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on April 14, 2008, 07:15:32 PM
My gut reaction is to agree with Rowling on this one. Commentary and even spin-offs at least require the would-be author to build off the HP books by adding original material, but an encyclopedia of this sort strikes me as just collecting and reassembling what Rowling's already done.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 14, 2008, 07:17:48 PM
While I generally regard anybody who sues, especially anyone that rich, as a real jerk, I can see her point here. You put a lot of love and feeling and consideration for many aspects of personality into your character, and you really don't want someone else writing the 'encyclopedia' that is supposed to define them, give the last word on their lives, explain plots and storylines, etc. YOU want to be the only one who does that. If they were my characters, I'd feel that way even if money weren't involved. She created them, she wants the final say over what is considered 'canon.' Letting someone else use your characters to their own will is dangerous to your legacy, and can create real confusion among a devoted fan base (especially those who feel the characters are real) If you want an example of this, go to the bookstore and leaf through various Star Wars dictionaries and encyclopedias. On many subjects and character bios, you'll get a different story and a different answer every time. The contradictions are more stupid than funny. This is because Lucas never laid down the final law himself as Rowling is doing.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Alixz on April 17, 2008, 02:33:12 AM
This falls under the readers obligation to the author.  To not steal intellectual property for their own use.

My son, when in Middle School and High School knew a lot about the "unofficial Harry Potter sites"  the stuff that Simon says should be squished.

I wonder just how many young readers go to these sites and believe the foul stuff that lives there?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 17, 2008, 08:06:40 AM

I wonder just how many young readers go to these sites and believe the foul stuff that lives there?

Probably more than we think...
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Annie on April 17, 2008, 09:33:29 AM
My daughter made her own Harry Potter site and message board when she was in middle school. She even bought her own domain with her own money. She had to end up shutting it down because she couldn't stop the endless postings of pornographic fanfic and photoshopped pics of the young actors (most done by young kids!) There was a woman who admitted to being in her 30's who would write long graphic posts about her fantasies of bathing (then 12 year old) Daniel Radcliffe in a bubblebath!

I don't see anything wrong with fan made sites, as long as everyone knows they're not official, and only for fun, and do not go too far. I still don't believe it's okay for another person to write and sell an official encyclopedia putting their own views into someone else's characters.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Helen_Azar on April 17, 2008, 09:38:25 AM
There was a woman who admitted to being in her 30's who would write long graphic posts about her fantasies of bathing (then 12 year old) Daniel Radcliffe in a bubblebath!

Ouch!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Alixz on April 19, 2008, 09:58:24 PM
Ouch is right!  That goes to the fact that anyone will say anything as long as they can do it anonymously.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on May 01, 2008, 01:50:18 PM
Today's confirmation of Marie's and Alexei's deaths at the hands of Yurovsky increases my hope that a new and accurate accounting of the Imperial Family's last days might be in the works. Whoever that writer is, I hope he approaches his subject matter respectfully, without resorting to sensationalism and wild speculation. Whatever one might think of Nicholas II in life, in death he and his family deserve at least that much.

This news suggests to me it's time to file more than one Romanov-related book under "Curiosities" rather than "History."
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: halen on May 02, 2008, 08:32:01 AM
Puppylove, the next major book (well major IMO) is by a SHE (we have evolved enough to have women historians). Helen Rappaport, who occasionally graces the the board will be releasing her book on the last days of the romanovs in Ekaterinburg this year in the U.K. and 2009 for us across the pond.

Louise

Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Puppylove on May 02, 2008, 12:03:06 PM
Thanks for the information, Louise!

I look forward to reading Ms. Rappaport's work. Hopefully it will prove definitive (insofar as any history book can be definitive, of course)! Understanding that previous writers were working with the information available at the time, I feel Massie did not go far enough, while King & Wilson went too far. (And, although peripherally related only, Kurth's book lost the plot completely).

Jenn
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: historyfan on January 25, 2009, 10:54:10 PM
Below, there is a discussion in the thread about The Tsarina's Daughter by Carolly Erickson, about how an author should treat historical characters that actually existed in life.

It was generally opined that if one is writing fiction, one should stick to fictional characters, unless they plan on keeping to a person's true personality and historical fact about their life.

Do you believe that same criteria extends to an author of books for children (ie a target audience of ages 5-7)?

Or are those types of authors given a little more freedom due to the limited amount of text in those books?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Sarushka on January 25, 2009, 11:15:59 PM
It was generally opined that if one is writing fiction, one should stick to fictional characters, unless they plan on keeping to a person's true personality and historical fact about their life.

Do you believe that same criteria extends to an author of books for children (ie a target audience of ages 5-7)?

Absolutely.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: lostromanovfiles on January 25, 2009, 11:18:30 PM
I agree with that. A historical fiction writer can use a fictional character to reveal or explain certain things about a real person. Changing a real historical person out of thier true form is questionable. I think that it would have to be done in good taste, with a specific and important goal in mind, and when no other solution is possible.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Ilana on January 26, 2009, 10:55:06 AM
I know that for THE ROYAL MOB, I stuck with the characters as closely as possible.  Obviously, I made up conversations and I fudged on exactly three things that I can recall.  Otherwise, I stuck to the facts... and from the feedback I got, it served me well.  Also, I feel that when you write historical fiction, you serve people better if, as I used to do when I was a child, they go to look up the facts, you aren't too off base.  I used to feel so deceived when it turned out the characters I had grown to love were totally different to what the author had represented.  That was just me, though, and I don't see that as any hard and fast rule.  It was just what I've been comfortable with over the years.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: lostromanovfiles on January 26, 2009, 01:07:28 PM
I did rather enjoy "The Man From St Petersberg" by Ken Follet. He did take a little liberty with it, but I thought that it helped him to take the story where it needed to go, and possibly no other way would have worked. What did you think of it?
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Gabriella on January 26, 2009, 04:59:34 PM
In general I agree that a historical fiction writer can use a fictional character to reveal or explain certain things about a real person. There are many good examples. I also made good expierence with authors who wrote historical fiction about real historical persons like the following.

In the 1980ies and 1990ies I had read some books written by Eleanor Alice Burford (1906-1993). She wrote historical fiction under different pen-names, the best-know are "Victoria Holt" and "Jaen Plaidy".

Under the pen-name "Jean Plaidy" she wrote many historical novels about European Royals among them  the Tudors, the Stuarts, the French Queen Catherine de Medici, Queen Victoria and many others. The ones I had read made me curious to learn more about the  historical persons and so I also read non-fiction about them and their times.

Comparing those historical novels with the non-fiction I read about the same subject from my point of view she did a good job. They were very accurate and well researched.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Ilana on January 26, 2009, 05:46:54 PM
She was one of my favorites growing up.

She also wrote a series called "The Daughters of England" where she traced a family from Tudor to almost modern times...they were always enmeshed in the events of the day, and one learned a lot of history from those as well.  Those were written under the name Philippa Carr.  I highly recommend!
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: historyfan on January 26, 2009, 07:34:54 PM
Thank you, everyone.  Especially the poster who replied about looking up characters to do further research and being disappointed that they were misrepresented.  That makes sense, even if the child in question is reading a bedtime story with their mom or dad and having that character stick in their head for ten years.
Title: Re: historical accuracy/ethics question regarding writing books
Post by: Talya on April 13, 2010, 11:42:54 PM
I have Alexandra (Tsarina) by Carolly Erickson and I wondered if the lace story was true. I'm sorry if this has been discussed here but I was wondering on it.