Friend and critic?

Interesting quote from David Frum on friendship and criticism. In the introduction to an interview with Conrad Black about his new book Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Champion of of Freedom, Frum has this to say about his friendship with the author:

The other thing that needs to be said is that Black is my friend. In some eyes, that might disqualify my opinions about his book. In this case, though, I think friendship might actually constitute a kind of qualification. It’s a horrible tendency of human nature that grand accomplishments are often received with envy and resentment – and I think that tendency suffuses some, not all, of the harsher commentaries Black’s book has received. Sometimes it is the people who claim to be most objective who are least fair; sometimes it is only the people who care for a person whose recognition of person’s merits and achievement is uncontaminated by malice. As a man, Conrad Black is brilliant and brave, generous and learned. Those who know him only through the splenetics of his enemies or his detractors in the press do not know him at all.

I wonder if this is true. Does envy and jealousy often intrude into the review process? Is it easier to be unduly harsh or unduly soft? Both temptations surely tempt the reviewer but I am not sure what is uppermost.

Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).