Anti-Bush books continue to sell
Wednesday, March 24, 2004
NEW YORK -- Newsmaking allegations, White House rebuttals and a ready audience for anti-Bush books have helped make Richard A. Clarke's "Against All Enemies" a big best seller, publishing officials say.
"Against All Enemies," released Monday, had an announced first printing of 300,000 copies and an additional 100,000 already have been ordered, according to the Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.
Clarke, a former anti-terrorism adviser, alleges that President Bush was so preoccupied with Iraq both before and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that he failed to effectively confront threats from the al-Qaida terror network.
"It's blowing out at our stores," says Bob Wietrak, a vice president of merchandising at Barnes & Noble Inc. "There has been phenomenal publicity. The book has been talked about on every talk show and every news show you can think of. Also, he's an authority. He was there."
Clarke resigned his White House job 13 months ago, after holding senior posts under former presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton. He has appeared on "60 Minutes" and "Good Morning America" and is scheduled to do other television interviews.
The Bush administration has accused Clarke of inaccuracies and election-year posturing. Vice President Dick Cheney and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice are among the officials who have criticized Clarke.
"I fundamentally disagree with his assessment both of recent history, but also in terms of how to deal with the problem" of global terrorism, Cheney said Monday.
Wietrak says the White House criticisms have only helped the book. "Against All Enemies" was ranked No. 1 on Amazon.com's list of best sellers as of Tuesday afternoon and has raised sales for other works attacking Bush, including Kevin Phillips' "American Dynasty" and Ron Suskind's "The Price of Loyalty," a collaboration with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill.
Anti-Bush books have been popular since last fall, when liberal pundits Al Franken, Joe Conason and Molly Ivins were among those with best sellers. Now the best sellers are being written by historians such as Phillips and former Bush officials such as Clarke.
"You needed to have enough time go by so these more substantial books could have been written. The O'Neill and Clarke books could not have been written any sooner," says Neil Nyren, publisher and editor-in-chief of Putnam, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), which published Franken last fall and the Phillips book this winter.
"Conservative books still sell, but liberals are in the same place where conservatives were during the Clinton administration. They're not in power and they have extremely strong feelings about Bush."
Books unfavorable to Bush will continue coming out, including "Worse Than Watergate," by John W. Dean, a former aide to President Nixon, and "The Politics of Truth," by former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who has criticized the White House's uses of intelligence before the Iraq war.
This fall, a book on the Bush family is due from Kitty Kelley, known for her gossipy best sellers about Nancy Reagan and Frank Sinatra. Former President Clinton's autobiography is also expected some time this year.
"For the past three years, current events and political science books have had double digit increases at our stores," Wietrak says. "People since the 2000 election, from both sides, have been preparing for this 2004 election. There hasn't been a lull."