Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Lowballing Bush Memoirs

Laura Bush was on Fox News yesterday, probably the last in a round of appearances to drum up interest in her memoirs.

For some reason, publishers have not been bidding up any proposals for Bush nostalgia, even those of the relatively popular First Lady.

"One question that seems to be weighing on prospective editors," the New Yorker reports, "is whether a book by Mrs. Bush will provide a candid account of her feelings, and perhaps counter the popular view of her as an opinion-free robot."

Candid? What world are these publishing people living in? White House memoirs deal in self-justification, rewriting history and sometimes revenge (pace Nancy Reagan), but candor is never on the menu.

If it were, what we would most want to hear from Laura Bush is not about the White House years, but how she married a middle-aged drunk and straightened him out, a creditable feat for a spouse but a disaster for the country.

But the chances of learning that from her are about the same as getting a primal scream from Hillary Clinton over living with a skirt-chasing jerk before and after moving to Washington.

As a one-time book publisher, I was an unsuccessful bidder for Lady Bird Johnson's "A White House Diary," one of the few successful examples of the genre. (LBJ himself was too depressed to finish his own memoirs. As he told Doris Kearns Goodwin, who was collaborating with him, "They'll get me anyhow, no matter how hard I try. No matter what I say in this book the critics will pull it apart. The reviews are in the hands of my enemies--the New York Times and the Eastern magazines--so I don't have a chance.")

Somewhere in the future, the outgoing President will no doubt pocket umpteen millions from his publicist Rupert Murdoch for a work of fiction about the Bush years. But the book I would really like to read is Dick Cheney's "Dear Reader: As I Was Saying to Pat Leahy..."

1 comment:

knatoli said...

You are such a gem!