Some have classified your biography of Charles Colson as "warts and all." How would you classify it and why?

I think people who call it a warts-and-all biography are people who expected hagiography and have gotten biography. I'm a faithful biographer. I have told the story in the spirit of Thomas Carlyle's definition of a biographer—he should be an artist on oath. I haven't gone for any sensational stories or revelations. I've portrayed the Chuck Colson I know and admire at various stages of his journey. And the fact of the matter is that the man he's become is not the man he was.

When he was a young man, he was pretty wild at times. He was pretty ruthless. He had a sense of humor that vastly amused some people and offended others. If you're going to do a portrait of someone like that, you can't airbrush out some of the color. I haven't gone out of my way to tell prurient stories. But the kind of story that will probably excite people if they see it out of context, is the story of the young Chuck Colson who, first of all, fought tooth and nail to break a color bar in Boston and bring a young black lawyer into his law firm as a partner. This was a big step forward, a groundbreaking step forward, which is greatly to Chuck's credit.

It's extraordinary that their relationship was so warm and so friendly that Chuck thought he could play pranks on this guy. These were not racist pranks at all. But you could see why some people might raise their eyebrows and think otherwise. One of the pranks was Chuck burning a cross on this guy's lawn in the Boston suburbs. Now this was Chuck's strange sense of humor.

A lot of Chuck's youth was spent going over the top. That's there in his letters. It's there in his lifestyle. The authenticity ...

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