The tightrope act I was going to have to attempt was made possible only by Bonforte’s Farleyfile, perhaps the best one ever compiled. Farley was a political manager of the twentieth century, of Eisenhower I believe, and the method he invented for handling the personal relations of politics was as revolutionary as the German invention of staff command was to warfare. Yet I had never heard of the device until Penny showed me Bonforte’s.
It was nothing but a file about people. However, the art of politics is "nothing but" people. This file contained all,or almost all, of the thousands upon thousands of people Bonforte had met in the course of his long public life; each dossier consisted of what he knew about that person from Bonforte’s own personal contact. Anything at all, no matter how trivial–in fact, trivia were always the first entries: names and nicknames of wives, children, and pets, hobbies, tastes in food or drink, prejudices, eccentricities. Following this would be listed date and place and comments for every occasion on which Bonforte had talked to that particular man
When available, a photo was included. There might, or might not, be "below-the-line" data, i.e. information which had been researched rather than learn directly by Bonforte. It depended on the political importance of the person. In some cases the "below-the-line" part was a formal biography running to thousands of words.
"God’s mercy child! I tried to tell you this job could not be done. How could anyone memorize all that?"
"Why, you can’t, of course."
"You just said that this was what he remembered about his friends and acquaintances."
"Not quite. I said that this is what he wanted to remember. But since he can’t, not possibly, this is how he does it….
"These are things he would like to remember if his memory were perfect. Since it isn’t, it is no more phony to do it this way than it is to use a tickler file in order not to forget a friend’s birthday — that’s what it is: a giant tickler file, to cover anything."
[Robert A, Heinlein. Double Star. 1956. Del Ray Books. pp.151-154]