Mark Seal has been a journalist for more than thirty years. Currently a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, he has written for many major magazines and served as a collaborator on almost twenty nonfiction books. Although he has written thousands of stories, Seal says none has struck a chord with readers more than Wildflower: An Extraordinary Life and Mysterious Death in Africa, the story of the incredible life and brutal death of Joan Root, which he originally reported in the August 2006 issue of Vanity Fair.
Mark lives in Aspen, Colorado.
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A discussion with Mark Seal on Christian Karl Gerhartstreiter (aka Clark Rockefeller) and his book The Man in the Rockefeller Suit
What drew you to Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter's story? After writing this book, what image of the man did you walk away with? Do you believe his plea of insanity? Do you think he believes it?
I first heard about Clark Rockefeller from a friend who had gone on a lunch date with him in New York. "Mark, did you hear about Clark Rockefeller!?" she screamed over the phone. I hadn't, but as soon as I began following his trail, I knew I was onto a whale of a story. After writing the book, I walked away with the feeling that the man will do whatever it takes to move ahead in life. As for the insanity defense, I agree with the jury in his kidnapping trial, which seemed to reject his plea of insanity by finding him guilty on most counts.
Your research for the book involved conducting nearly 200 interviews, in addition to scouring court transcripts and official documents. What did you expect to learn when you undertook this project? Were you surprised by any of your discoveries?
I try not to have preconceptions when following a story. In the case of Clark Rockefeller, I was constantly surprised ...
Blood at the Root
"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
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