A Tale by Two Liars: Lawrence Wright and Paul Haggis

Written by Kathy Haggis, January 25, 2015

Paul Haggis was cheated out of a credit on Lawrence Wright’s recent book (now a “documentary”).  The credit should read “written by Lawrence Wright, fabricated by Paul Haggis.”  And it should be subtitled with their mutual motive for concocting such a story: “Never let the truth get in the way of a sale.”

It’s obvious that Wright sold his book with the promise that the publisher and broadcaster would be able to use descriptives like “scandalous” and “explosive” to promote it.

Not that, knowing Paul, I had any expectation that this book would contain facts as you and I define them. Having first-hand knowledge of many of the actual events referred to in this book, I stopped counting after noting 25 major departures from reality in the first chapter alone. But then Paul was in this as a means of self promotion, in which case the truth would not do.  Paul long ago supplanted actual events with delusions, and Wright swallowed them whole without bothering with an inconvenient fact-check.

Dry and tedious as the book is, it was breathtaking in one respect: I marveled at the sheer volume of half-lies and outright lies, mixed with blatant inaccuracies due to nothing more than sloppy – or simply no – research.

I remember thinking at the time, “this guy must have already had a sale for this book and a fat advance because he sure as hell didn’t feel obligated to deliver quality.”

Chapter One is a wholly-manufactured version of Paul’s youth. Being his sister, I have more than a passing familiarity with the facts of our home town and how he grew up and I can assure you that the “waif-from-the-dreary-culturally-bankrupt-manufacturing-town” that Wright portrays bears no resemblance to the spoiled rich kid that Paul Haggis was or the very comfortable circumstances in which he was raised.  His parents came from humble beginnings but Paul most certainly did not.

In an attempt to correct the record, I will take up, as I am able, the most egregiously twisted facts in separate posts but trying to separate the whoppers from the tornado of spin contained in this book is a daunting task.

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