Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

INK / Publishing

A Pair of New Clinton Tomes Join the Parade

October 22, 1998|PAUL D. COLFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The latest wave in the incoming tide of fall books has added two high-profile titles to the growing number about President Clinton and his troubles.

"Here's the quote," David Rosenthal, publisher of Simon & Schuster, said with not-so-veiled amusement this week: "If George Bush was 'the education president,' then Bill Clinton is 'the publishing president.' "

Rosenthal should know. On top of the many Clinton-related books of recent years, Simon & Schuster has brought out the two new ones, and its sister imprints are responsible for others that have lingered on national bestseller lists.

With trademark bite and bombast, die-hard Clinton supporter James Carville has written ". . . And the Horse He Rode In On," a 128-page attack on independent counsel Kenneth Starr and what the author calls his "partisan, fanatical plan to bring down the democratically elected president of the United States."

David Maraniss, the Washington Post reporter who wrote the Clinton biography "First in His Class" (Touchstone), is back in hardcover with "The Clinton Enigma." The 110-page volume is part journalistic memoir and part biography, as Maraniss parses the president's confessional address to the nation on Aug. 17 in the wider context of his Arkansas origins and cagey political career.

The new books join William J. Bennett's "The Death of Outrage," an anti-Clinton bestseller published by Simon & Schuster's Free Press imprint, and Ann H. Coulter's "High Crimes and Misdemeanors," a Regnery bestseller in which the lawyer and TV-talk fixture argues the case for impeachment.

Who's buying these opinionated books?

A check of Amazon.com, the online bookstore, suggests that they appeal to the already converted. The early buyers of Carville's latest also purchased his two previous books, "We're Right, They're Wrong" (Random House) and "All's Fair" (Touchstone), a memoir of the 1992 presidential campaign that Carville wrote with his wife, GOP strategist Mary Matalin. These readers also bought videocassettes of "The War Room," a documentary focusing on the leadership role played by Carville and a few others in Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign.

Amazon customers who ordered Bennett's "Death of Outrage," subtitled "Bill Clinton and the Assault on American Ideals," bought Coulter's indictment of the president, as well as "The Starr Report" (a reprint of Starr's initial findings) and "The Ten Commandments" (HarperCollins), in which radio host Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel discuss the relevance of the commandments in everyday life. (Such as: Thou shalt not commit adultery.)

"We are selling to some extent talismans to the hard core," Rosenthal said, referring to Carville's and Bennett's latest. "These kinds of books are great in helping people articulate their own point of view.

"If you happen to think that Mr. Starr is a right-wing, sexually obsessed fanatic, Carville lays out the words and reasons why you might feel that way. Bennett's book is for the other half."

Maraniss' new one falls somewhere in between, appealing to readers who also have bought serious books about politics and policy. Early on, the writer offers some choice scenes showing how Clinton froze him out after "First in His Class" was published three years ago. Although Clinton had been interviewed a number of times by Maraniss for Washington Post articles that earned the reporter a Pulitzer Prize in 1993, the president hated the half of the biography that "was critical of him and that had revealed the patterns of his duplicity." Portions that examined Clinton's sex life unsettled the first lady, who knew but "didn't want to know," Maraniss adds.

Simon & Schuster has shipped about 150,000 copies of Carville's ". . .And the Horse He Rode In On" and nearly 100,000 copies of Maraniss' "The Clinton Enigma"--large amounts for nonfiction books. After all, despite the relative quiet in the impeachment process, the publishing house has evidence of book-buyers' interest in the story.

Three separately published editions of "The Starr Report" tied for No. 1 on the New York Times' paperback best-seller list last Sunday. Debuting together at No. 12 were two editions of "The Starr Evidence," reprints of the supplemental findings prepared by the independent counsel. S&S' Pocket Books division published one edition of each.

Due next month from Basic Books is Alan Dershowitz' "Sexual McCarthyism," in which the Harvard Law School professor and ubiquitous TV guest will examine the constitutional issues at stake in the standoff between Clinton and Starr. "Sexual McCarthyism," a term that alludes to the anti-Communist excesses in the 1950s of the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, has been used by Dershowitz and others in connection with Starr's investigation. (Citing Dershowitz in a recent editorial, the Nation argued that it is not a misleading metaphor because, "First and foremost, there is the attempt to demonize a political target as the Enemy Other.")

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|