City Desk

Post Editor Who Co-Wrote Petraeus Biography Surprised by the Affair

Vernon Loeb, Post local editor and the co-author, with David Petraeus' alleged mistress Paula Broadwell, of one of the most aptly named biographies in recent memory, has been quiet since news of the affair broke Friday. But in a story in today's Post Style section, he tells his side of the story.

First, the big answer: Loeb says he didn't know that Broadwell and Petraeus were having an affair. "My wife says I’m the most clueless person in America," he writes.

Loeb started working on All In in 2010, after his agent, Scott Moyers, asked if he was interested in ghost-writing the book. Around this point, Loeb brings up the running the apparently was central Petraeus' press relations:

The fact that I was a runner seemed to Moyers to make me the perfect fit for the job. He joked, when he was introducing me to Broadwell, that I was the only ghostwriter who could run with Petraeus — and with Broadwell.

Loeb returns to the theme throughout his story about the book's production. He's also fond of stressing just how oblivious he was to the affair. "I always thought that Broadwell’s motives were pure, and I always wondered why Petraeus was granting her the access that he did," he writes.

And speaking of the book, Loeb doesn't seem really thrilled about its tone, despite its rising post-affair sales:

I had no say over the book’s ultimate take on Petraeus, which some have found excessively laudatory. Broadwell was free to make whatever revision or modifications she desired to the text, and did so liberally.

Loeb casts himself as innocent of any tawdriness despite colleagues' suggestions that something was awry. He even invokes American literature's iconic eunuch observer, The Great Gatsby's Nick Carraway:

To see both of them fall in such tragic fashion brought to mind a comment by Nick Carraway, the character in “The Great Gatsby,” who says early on in the novel:

“I felt that I wanted the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever; I wanted no more riotous excursions with privileged glimpses into the human heart.”

Loeb writes that he hasn't heard from Broadwell since news of the affair broke, but then again, it sounds like she had a pretty bad weekend to deal with.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army used under a Creative Commons license.

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