Bryan Burrough Q&A #3

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Bryan Burrough Q&A #3

Unread postby Liz » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:56 am

ONBC: Mr. Burrough, I'm curious as to the extent of redaction in the FBI files you had access to, how it might have hindered or prolonged the research for the book, and how you worked around any problems missing names might have caused. How long did your research take?

Bryan Burrough: Research took almost five years. I actually bought all the FBI files, over a million pages in all, and stored them in my garage. The redactions weren’t that big. Mostly they just cut out the names of the innocent. But even that was hit and miss. They’d redact a person’s name 29 times then forget to do it once, so voila, you’d have the name.
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Unread postby gemini » Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:15 pm

It makes sense to me that you bought the files. I am sure you had to access them so many times that it made life much easier, especially over a five year period. It was the great source material that made the book special to me, because I like to feel the story is as accurate as possible. It is what makes your story so much more interesting than all the previous attempts. Then you were the only one daring enough to cover them all at once and had to get the timeline right. In my mind I can see flow charts with dates for each Public Enemy laying all over your work place. :lol:
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:00 pm

One million pages and 5 years... :notworthy:

The attention to detail in the book shows your dedication to all of their stories. I also appreciated the maps and "family trees" at the beginning. Those were very helpful. I hope I never have to be "redacted"!
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Unread postby nebraska » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:34 pm

Interesting, after all these years the FBI still doesn't have it right!

Good for you following through. :bounce:

I hope the price you paid for the files was more than covered by royalties on the book!

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Unread postby Lucky13 » Wed Mar 19, 2008 10:58 pm

Five years and a million pages...absolutely mind boggling... just an astonishing degree of research. I wonder how Mr. Burrough's kept everyone straight while writing this extraordinary book.

I couldn't agree more with Nebraska... I hope the royalities have definitely compensated you for your immense research.
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Unread postby Theresa » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:42 am

I'm trying to imagine the size of the garage that would be needed to house over a million pages....including the space needed to be able to access all those pages. I agree with Lucky13, it is indeed mind-boggling.

But not as mind-boggling as knowing that Mr. Burrough read all those pages and pieced together all the parts into a coherent story. Impressive.

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Unread postby Liz » Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:42 am

theresa wrote:I'm trying to imagine the size of the garage that would be needed to house over a million pages....including the space needed to be able to access all those pages. I agree with Lucky13, it is indeed mind-boggling.

But not as mind-boggling as knowing that Mr. Burrough read all those pages and pieced together all the parts into a coherent story. Impressive.


I can't even imagine. That's like the equivalent of 2500 normal sized novels. :-O
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Unread postby Parlez » Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:30 am

Whoa! That's a lot of paper! I have nothing but admiration for anyone who has the self-discipline and focus to tackle such an unwieldy project. And to make it all make sense in the end is pretty amazing in my book. I think it speaks to Mr. Burrough's devotion to the subject as well as to the captivating nature of the individuals he was researching.
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Unread postby Endora » Thu Mar 20, 2008 12:54 pm

So how did BB approach this task, I wonder? A mind-map for each character, or some sort of chronological chart with notesattached, or some colour coded thing? Or spatially, on a map of the locations? I can't imagine how he could keep tabs on all that detail and then reduce it to the book it became.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:39 pm

Well, the blonde, it just so happens that we asked him a similar question, which will be answered in a few days.....or maybe I'll just post it tomorrow. :grin:
You can't judge a book by its cover.

The only thing that matters is the ending. It's the most important part of the story.

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Unread postby Endora » Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:49 pm

Thanks, seems great minds (well, maybe more like average in my case) think alike Liz!
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Unread postby stroch » Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:02 pm

Endora said:
So how did BB approach this task, I wonder? A mind-map for each character, or some sort of chronological chart with notesattached, or some colour coded thing? Or spatially, on a map of the locations? I can't imagine how he could keep tabs on all that detail and then reduce it to the book it became.

That's the first thing that popped into my mind, also. I can't keep up with 5 filing cabinets, much less a million pages -- plus all of the other resources and research.

Looking forward to the answer.
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Unread postby suec » Thu Mar 20, 2008 5:06 pm

I'm also looking forward to it. I simply can't imagine what a million pages even looks like, let alone how to sort them. We've had alot of indications already about Mr Burrough's attention to detail, and of course here is another. And then there is:
Mostly they just cut out the names of the innocent. But even that was hit and miss. They’d redact a person’s name 29 times then forget to do it once, so voila, you’d have the name.

I was all ready to snort derisively at yet more FBI errors, but statistically, on a scale of that magntitude there would have to be some. And Mr Burrough sifted through till he found them. :-O
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