New Search

If you are not happy with the results below please do another search

15 search results for: ambassador joseph wilson


RIP Tyler Drumheller, CIA Operative & Iraq War Truthteller

With President Obama rightly sounding a cautionary tone during his speech yesterday promoting the Iran nuclear deal—by citing the many examples of flawed judgment shown during the lead-up to the invasion of Iraq—I note with rue and sadness the death this week of Tyler Drumheller, longtime CIA operative and an Iraq War truthteller whose book, On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence written with Elaine Monahan, I edited and published with him (Philip Turner Books, Carroll & Graf, 2006). Tyler wrote about how he and other US intelligence officials had spotted early on that the Iraqi source Curveball was a serial fabricator whose claims about mobile biological weapons labs should not be believed. Yet Curveball’s claims remained in the inventory of malarkey from unreliable Iraqis that Bush administration officials exploited, with his bogus info being inserted into Colin Powell’s disastrous speech at the UN. As Greg Miller’s excellent Washington Post obit on Drumheller reports, Tyler was flabbergasted when he heard Powell’s speech, and bravely tangled in print and on “60 Minutes” with the CIA Director George Tenet about Curveball. It was a distinct pleasure for Tyler when I suggested to him that we use the agency photo of the two of them for the back cover photo that you see below.

I worked on Tyler’s book amid an amazing, energized period of six years during which I also acquired, edited, and published Susan McDougal’s The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk: Why I Wouldn’t Testify Against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail (Carroll & Graf, 2001), which sort of stamped ‘paid-back’ to the Whitewater years, and Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s blockbuster book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, (Carroll & Graf, 2004) a story that was in the news for months, bridging Bush’s first and second terms. Following Tyler’s book—a true insider’s account that showed definitively how determined the Bushies had been to find and cultivate intelligence that would give them a pretext for invading Iraq—with journalist Murray Waas I brought out The United States v. I. Lewis Libby (Union Square Press, 2007), a compendium of public documents that featured the transcript from the trial that saw Scooter Libby, Chief of Staff to VP Cheney, prosecuted for obstructing justice in the circumstances surrounding the release of Valerie Plame Wilson’s CIA status. I’ve written more here about these books and the years when rogue prosecutors, the Bush administration, and determined adversaries were targeting authors with whom I worked.

I’m thinking of Tyler today, who less than ten years ago was devoting his reluctant retirement from the CIA to exposing how the agency had been used and abused by Bush administration officials to justify the tragic invasion of Iraq. I’m so relieved that a decade later President Obama is in charge of our foreign policy, determined to use diplomacy to make peace with adversaries.


Celebrating Valerie Plame’s “Blowback” & Recalling Tumultous Events of a Decade Ago


Blowback frontKyle and Ewan and I had a great time last night at the book party for Valerie Plame’s terrific new spy novel Blowback, co-authored with Sarah Lovett. I  had picked up a galley of it at BEA last June, and really enjoyed it a lot. I’d been looking forward to the party for some weeks, as in 2003-04 I edited and published The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Insider the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity by Valerie’s husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. It was going to be a treat to see Valerie and Joe last night.

Joe and I had last met up in 2010 when he was part of a New York Times panel that included Nora Ephron, Anna Devere Smith, Roy Blount, Jr., and Garrison Keillor marking the 25th anniversary of the Times’ Op-Ed pages. It was moderated by then Op-Ed page editor David Shipley*, who invited Joe because he judged Joe’s July 6 2003 op-ed  What I Didn’t Find in Africa had been one of the most historically significant columns the newspaper published that decade. It led to the Bush administration’s repeated disclosures that Joe’s wife Valerie Plame was a CIA official and years of flimsy denials that the administration had doctored the intelligence that fueled their false claims about WMDs in Iraq, enabling the unjustified invasion of the country.

Publishing The Politics of Truth was a high-wire act for Joe, for me and for Carroll & Graf that lasted over a year. In July ’03, I heard about it right away when Valerie’s CIA employment was reported by columnist Robert Novak. A few weeks later indie book publicist Barbara Monteiro connected me with Joe. She had earlier worked on the book I did with Whitewater heroine Susan MacDougal. Barbara knew my sense of justice would’ve been offended by what was being done to Valerie, and Joe. He had been writing opinion columns about Bush’s misguided rush to war and was already thinking of writing a book. We quickly made a deal and got to work while the news story swirling around Valerie and Joe grew and grew.

Right off the bat, we were fortunate in that before retiring from the State Dept in 1998, following 25 years in the foreign service, Joe had sat for a full oral history of his career. He had the transcript and used it as an aide-mémoire and the basis of the historical portions of the book, later justifying our use of two subtitles on the front cover and spine! With this foundation, Joe then wrote practically every day and in February ’04 he delivered an excellent 150,000 word manuscript to me. C & G leapt in to action, as colleagues from several departments and I line-edited, copyedited, designed, typeset, indexed, and produced the book on a “crash” production schedule, for planned release only four months later, in what was going to be May ’04, less than a year after Novak’s column. From a marketing and strategic standpoint, it was like riding a tiger.

The toughest part of this as a publishing proposition was that though the story had only gotten bigger over the intervening months–and while we knew we’d be able to book Joe on tons of media–at the same time we wondered and worried:

  • What will be the state of the journalistic investigations and of the federal grand jury hearings looking into the unauthorized disclosure when we publish the book?
  • How can Joe in the book, in his public statements, and we in our press materials take advantage of new developments while still conforming to the latest important events?
  • How could we take advantage of breaking news but not have Joe get too far out on things that were constantly shifting?

Of course, for Valerie and Joe it was more than a publishing proposition, it was their lives. This was a dynamic in publishing a book I had never encountered before, a delicate strategic challenge. I was already a highly-tuned-in-to-news-person, especially after the 2000 presidential election and 9/11, but this tendency became even more pronounced the year I was actively working every day on Joe’s book. The book sold more than 60,000 copies in hardcover and spent more than a month on the NY Times Bestseller list. I have written about the lessons I learned working on it a number of times on this blog, in such posts as “Hubris”–10 Years Later, Run-up to the Iraq War Still Shadows the Media & the U.S. and On the Imperative of Publishing Whistleblowers.

Last night’s party for Valerie and Sarah Lovett was hosted by director Doug Liman, author Naomi Wolf, and producer Avram Ludwig. Liman had directed the 2010 movies “Fair Game” with Naomi Watts and Sean Penn, based on Valerie’s 2006 book, Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House and on The Politics of Truth.

We enjoyed meeting the three co-hosts and many of our fellow guests. Among the latter group was one of my favorite suspense writers Lee Child, with whom we happened to ride up in the elevator. About Blowback he’s said: “Great storytelling, real insider authenticity, and above all a fascinating main character in Vanessa Pierson. And maybe those initials are not a coincidence–sometimes fiction can reveal things nonfiction can’t.” The latter part of Child’s blurb–and the reference to “redaction” in my tweet above–are rueful nods to the unfortunate fact that Fair Game was heavily redacted by the Bush-era CIA, and though it had a well-reported Afterword by national security reporter Laura Rozen, the many blacked-out passages inevitably left readers in the dark in many areas. I’ve included three of Child’s books among my weekly #FridayReads essays, including Worth Dying For, a true corker of a suspense novel, the first of Child’s Jack Reacher books that I read. His latest is  Never Go Back, which I am eager to read. Guest Maggie Topkis–longtime co-proprietor of the NYC mystery bookstore Partners and Crime who nowadays works with Lee Child–told me she thinks it’s his best book yet, which is saying a lot.

I met co-author Sarah Lovett, and told her how much I’d enjoyed reading Blowback. From Blue Rider Press, I congratulated David Rosenthal, Valerie’s publisher, and Executive Editor Sarah Hochman. I was also glad to see the two sides of the recent Penguin Random House merger well represented, with Kent Anderson, a sales rep from Penguin (now Penguin Random House). He had been with Publishers Group West, distributor for Carroll & Graf, when I published The Politics of Truth there in 2004. With Kent, I saw Madeline McIntosh, COO of Random House, a senior executive in the merged company. I liked that she had come to this book party for a key title of a Penguin imprint.   

I was also glad to see book biz pal Will Schwalbe,* who after a distinguished publishing career has made himself in to a successful author most recently with The End of Your Life Book Club, which I wrote about here. Will explained that he and Naomi had been old college classmates, and said how much he’d enjoyed her poetry from those years. Naomi seemed touched by that. Will graciously introduced me to Naomi who asked how I had come to know Joe and Valerie, at which I mentioned The Politics of Truth . She said how glad she was to be able to show special support for Valerie and her new book. Those comments were echoed when a few minutes later she and Doug Liman convened the gathering for toasts and congratulations. Liman gestured toward a nearby portrait of his late father, the prominent lawyer Arthur Liman, a pivotal player in the Iran-Contra scandal who served as chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated the Reagan’s administration’s notorious arms-for-hostages conspiracy. The younger Liman cited his father’s example as an inspiration to him in working with dedicated public servants like Valerie and Joe.

After the toasts, I approached Joe once more. As we chatted Ewan took a picture of us. Here it is, along with a few others from last night. (Please click here to see all pics) It was a fun book party and the three of us were very happy to be a part of the celebration.

If you’re looking for realistic and pacy suspense fiction with a smart and appealing female protagonist, I highly recommend Blowback , the first of a series featuring covert operative Vanessa Pierson. Valerie has done lots of media this week including “Morning Joe” (See video below.) One of Valerie’s next stops is going to be in Washington, DC this Friday night, October 5, when Laura Rozen will be interviewing her at Politics & Prose Bookstore.

*Will Schwalbe’s first book, SEND: Why People Email So Badly and How to Do It Better was co-authored with the same David Shipley– Joe Wilson’s Op-Ed editor and moderator of the NY Times panel with Joe, Nora Ephron, etc.



#FridayReads, June 28–Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett’s “Blowback,” & Amy Grace Loyd’s “The Affairs of Others”

Working my way through my BEA piles for this week’s #FridayReads: Blowback by Valerie Plame & Sarah Lovett; quite a good, pacy thriller setting an American female operative amid a covert operation to apprehend a villainous underworld puppetmaster  who’s selling clandestine nukes to dangerous international players, and killing off the operative’s sources. Coming out in October from Blue Rider Press, this is Plame’s first novel, after her 2007 Fair Game: My Life as a Spy, My Betrayal by the White House. That book was heavily redacted by the Bush-era CIA, and though it had a well-reported Afterword by national security reporter Laura Rozen, the many blacked-out passages inevitably left readers in the dark. Because I had worked on her husband Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s 2003 book, The Politics of Truth: Insider the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, which with Fair Game had formed the basis of the Naomi Watts and Sean Penn 2009 movie of the same name, I was of course interested to read Valerie’s latest book. I had hoped it would be good, and happily have found that her first thriller, written with Sarah Lovett, has an intriguing plot with lots of surprising twists and great insight in to, and empathy for, the complex and sometimes troubled lives of undercover agents, women and men. No redactions this time around!IMG_0657IMG_0656IMG_0655

Have moved on to read The Affairs of Others, Amy Grace Loyd’s novel of modern manners set in a Brooklyn widow’s apartment house, with fascinating cross-currents among her and her tenants. Elegant and smooth sentence-making, with a plot that I know from the BEA Buzz Editors’ panel presentation on the book is going to soon turn toward the sensual and erotic. Knowing that’s to come, it’s all the more notable for its restraint in the first 70 pages. It’s worth adding that I live in a New York apartment building with lots of strange neighbors, so the subplots and side characters in the book are starkly real. The novel by Loyd, who is the fiction editor of, will be out in early September.



“Hubris”–10 Years Later, Run-up to the Iraq War Still Shadows the Media & the U.S.

Tonight MSNBC will broadcast “Hubris: Selling the Iraq War,” narrated by Rachel Maddow, based on the 2006 book of the same name by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. Coming nearly ten years after the US invaded Iraq, on March 19, 2003, I’ll be watching with great interest.

Politics of TruthI retain vivid recall of how the Bush administration pushed the country, and as much of the world as it could hector along with them, into invading that country. It was a mad, misguided rush, one that I was upset about at the time, and soon after became involved with personally and professionally. In July 2003, after Valerie Plame’s role as a CIA official was revealed in a notorious column by Robert Novak, I contacted Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, Plame’s husband. In the months before the invasion of Iraq, he had become a vocal critic of the rush to war, publishing a number of Op-Ed columns that drew on his experience of twenty-five years as an American diplomat, including his service as the last American official to meet with Saddam Hussein before the beginning of the Gulf War in 1991. In my role as an editorial executive with Carroll & Graf Publishers I was referred to Wilson by publishing friend, Barbara Monteiro. I contacted Joe and found he was interested in writing a book that would chronicle his years as an American foreign service officer; more recent events involving his trip to Niger, where he was sent by the CIA to investigate the claim that Iraq had sought yellowcake from that African country; and the unprecedented exposure of his wife’s CIA employment. Joe, as I soon came to know him, agreed to the offer I made, a contract was quickly signed, and he began diligently working on the manuscript.

Fortunately, when Joe retired from the State Department a few years before the war fever he had sat for a series of lengthy interviews with an interlocutor from State–a good custom at the agency–setting his memories down in a proper oral history. He drew on this aide-memoir as he composed the diplomatic memoir that made up about 1/3 of the final manuscript. As for his trip to Niger, the positions he took in opposition to the Bush administration while they were twisting intelligence and co-opting media during he run-up to the war,  and events after the invasion, including the outing of his wife, he had little need of reminders. Joe delivered a very readable manuscript, and with a team of colleagues at Carroll & Graf I edited this draft, and Joe made key revisions to it. Meantime, we also kept a keen eye on breaking developments in the investigation in to how and why Valerie’s CIA employment had become a subject that administration officials felt free to discuss openly with reporters. Getting the manuscript ready for the printer was like aiming an arrow at a moving target.

The launch for the book, The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, was in early May 2004, less than a year after Novak’s fateful column. Joe went on the TODAY show, Charlie Rose, and he did a ton of public radio shows. I went with him to many of those interviews, sat in green rooms with him, fancy and plain. It was as cool when he did Democracy Now with Amy Goodman, as when we went to Rockefeller Center one morning before 7 AM, to do TODAY . His most interesting TV appearance was on “Countdown with Keith Olbermann,” when KO shared with Joe and the audience White House talking points supposedly rebutting the book. These had been sent to virtually all news outlets, including even to programs like Countdown, ones that weren’t having any of the BS from the administration. Olbermann brandished the sheaf of talking points, like a sword. With Joe’s opposition to the war, and most of all the fact he’d been to Niger and vigorously debunked the fraudulent yellowcake claim, Joe had stepped across a tripwire that loosed Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby like a pack of dogs, with Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer chasing close behind. None of their talking points refuted Joe’s claims. John Dean gave the book a great review in the New York Times Book Review and it became a national hardcover bestseller in the Times and Publishers Weekly for about six weeks. This was Dean’s opening paragraph:

“THIS is a riveting and all-engaging book. Not only does it provide context to yesterday’s headlines, and perhaps tomorrow’s, about the Iraq war and about our politics of personal destruction, but former Ambassador Joseph Wilson also tells captivating stories from his life as a foreign service officer with a long career fostering the development of African democracies, and gives us a behind-the-scenes blow-by-blow of the run-up to the 1991 Persian Gulf war. As the top American diplomat in Baghdad, Wilson was responsible for the embassy, its staff and the lives of other Americans in the region – not to mention the freeing of hostages in Kuwait. He goes on to relate his eye-to-eye encounter with the wily sociopath Saddam Hussein; his return home to be greeted as a ‘true American hero’ by President George H. W. Bush; his stint advising America’s top military commander in Europe; and his time as head of the African affairs desk of Bill Clinton’s National Security Council, where he assembled the president’s historic trip to Africa while the ”Starr inquisition” into the Monica Lewinsky affair developed. Along the way he fell in love with and married a C.I.A. covert operative – a ”’willowy blonde, resembling a young Grace Kelly.”’

I should add the book was also a plea for Americans to be actively engaged in their citizenship, and to be unafraid if it became necessary to call one’s government to account. In 2010 The Politics of  Truth and Valerie’s 2008 book Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent was Betrayed by Her Own Government, were jointly adapted for the feature film, “Fair Game,” with Sean Penn and Naomi Watts. I saw Joe and Valerie in NYC for a premiere reception and we have remained friends, more so than other authors I’ve published over the years. I just heard from Joe today. He and Valerie sat for interviews with the MSNBC producers and they will also be watching “Hubris” tonight. I hope you will be, too. Please feel free to leave comments here about the program, this post, and this period in our recent history. Joe and Valerie played a significant role in these events, bringing the Bush administration before the judgment of history for its deceptions. I am proud of the role I had in bringing their story before the public. To read about other aspects of this case, especially the federal trial of Scooter Libby for his obstruction of justice, and the book I brought out in 2008, The United States v. I. Lewis Libby, along with Patrick Fitzgerald’s legacy as a federal prosecutor, please see this post.


What Were Editors & Execs at Dutton & Penguin Thinking?/Part II

Because I’ve edited & published a number national security books* containing sensitive information that ended up being vetted by government agencies before publication, I’ve been following the ‘No Easy Day’ situation carefully. Yesterday I shared a blog post, questioning how Dutton and Penguin could’ve been so careless in seemingly just accepting the pseudonymous ex-Navy Seal author Mark Owen’s claim that a lawyer he’d hired had said his manuscript didn’t breach any disclosure rules. If that is what happened–and there’s a lot of murk here so one can’t be sure–that’s not the way publishing houses are supposed to deal with these books.

Today, another shoe dropped on the author. According to Bloomberg News, at a press conference today, chief Pentagon spox George Little told reporters, “Sensitive and classified information is contained in the book.” It was a judgment I’ve been waiting to hear rendered since last Friday when it was revealed the Pentagon had sent the author a letter, saying his book may have violated national security. I guess they took the weekend to read it.

Another nugget in the Bloomberg article is that the author’s attorney–Robert Luskin, defense attorney for Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame matter–claims his client’s agreement with the Navy merely “invites but by no means requires” him to provide his manuscript for vetting, that he’s not obliged to do so. Doesn’t sound like any non-disclosure agreement I’ve ever heard of.

While the Pentagon warning about possible seizure of “royalties, remunerations, and emoluments” has been directed to the author, Penguin could also suffer, having heedlessly brought out an unvetted book deemed harmful to nat’l security, and then being forced to pull it from distribution, or even defy the government. More from the Bloomberg story on the Pentagon press conference.

In response to reporters’ questions today, Little gradually toughened his statements, first saying the book contains “sensitive” information, and then saying it “probably” contains “classified” information before saying the Defense Department believes classified information is in the book and finally that it does contain such information. The Pentagon has consulted the Department of Justice about the book while reviewing all legal options, Little has said. “It is the height of irresponsibility not to have this kind of material checked for the possible disclosure” of classified information, Little said today. The need for a pre-publication review is “a no-brainer,” Little said. “This is common sense.”

*Among these national security books have been The Politics of Truth–A Diplomat’s Memoir: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity (Carroll & Graf, 2004) by Ambassador Joseph Wilson. For his book, which came out more than a year before his wife Valerie Plame brought out hers (with Simon & Schuster), Joe asked the State Dept. to vet it, even though it had been a number of years since his retirement from the diplomatic corps. Another title, mentioned in yesterday’s post, was On the Brink: An Insider’s Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence by Tyler Drumheller, former chief of CIA clandestine operations, Europe.



Herman Graf in 2012, Celebrating 51 Years in the Book Biz (now with a Bob Wietrak 2018 update)

February 6 2018 Update: With the sad passing this week of Bob Wietrak, longtime bookseller and publishing executive—with whom I was a colleague at Macmillan from 1987-1990—I want to point out to friends and readers of this blog that Bob was involved in a harrowing episode at one of our annual book conventions, at an ABA in the 1980s, the one time the trade show was held in Las Vegas. A key figure in the incident was Herman Graf, the longtime publishing pal whose surprise birthday party I wrote about below in 2012. Bob was at that party, too, seen in the background of the photo below.

In a phone call tonight Herman reminded me of some of Bob’s best qualities. Herman told me, “He had an uncanny talent for predicting what books would work big. He also had a knack for making publishers feel generally satisfied about the ordering and marketing decisions that the national book chain made about what books to feature, while also keeping B&N’s upper management satisfied.” Bob was laid off in a big B&N purge in 2011, when 40 people were let go, and went on to later jobs with online book sites Bookish and Zola. (I know about B&N’s corporate purges first-hand as in 2009 I was let go in a twenty-person layoff from Sterling Publishing, B&N’s publishing division, where I worked as Editorial Director, V-P of Union Square Press.) Nearly seven years after the party for Herman, I’m really glad that Bob Wietrak was there that night.


Last night Kyle and I were delighted to join a group of several dozen well-wishers who sprung a surprise party in honor of Herman Graf and his 51 years in publishing. Herman walked in on the hushed throng which had assembled in the living room of Tony Lyons, founder of Skyhorse Publishing, expecting to join Tony for dinner, when in unison we let out with our “Surprise.” More than a bit stunned, Herman said, “It’s not my birthday.” It’s not even my Bar Mitzvah.” We took the photos accompanying this post in the first few minutes after he walked in to find a party had been laid for him.

Herman began his publishing career in 1961, doing stints with McGraw-Hill, Doubleday, Arco Books, and then Grove Press, where he worked in sales and marketing during the indie press’s 60s and 70s heyday. This was the time when Grove was bringing writers like Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, and Mikhail Bulgakov to American readers, even while founder Barney Rosset was frequently in court, accused of distributing “obscene” literature, like D. H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover. Herman rode that tiger with Barney, and other key Grove executives, such as Kent Carroll, Fred Jordan and Richard Seaver. That era is covered well in the 2007 documentary “Obscene,” made by Dan O’Connor  and Neil Ortenberg, also old colleagues of Herman’s, and mine.

The ride was so rollicking that in later years Herman liked to say, “I was the Billy Martin of publishing; Barney fired me three times, and rehired me twice.” There was something to this George Steinbrenner-Billy Martin analogy, as Herman, like the brawling, ill-fated Yankee manager, could handle himself in a tight spot, having been a fair boxer when he grew up in the Bronx. Once, at a Las Vegas ABA in the early 80s—the annual convention of the book industry—Herman found himself defending a number of bookseller friends including the genial Barnes & Noble executive Bob Wietrak. Bob and other B&N people found themselves on the wrong side of some ornery Vegas bouncers intent on vacating an after-hours club at an early hour, even though B&N management had secured the room for the night to host a publishing party. These bouncers were attacking the B&N people, slamming them and pushing them. Herman stepped between Bob and the bouncers, and over the next few minutes bulled, brazened, and punched his way out of the club with Bob and others in tow. I know this story is true—I heard about it not only from Herman, but from my late brother Joel, a bookseller—who happened to also be at the venue that night.

In 1978, my sibling and I with our parents began operating our Cleveland indie bookstore chain, Undercover Books, and like many stores of the time, we were glad to have an obscure bestseller land in our laps, A Confederacy of Dunces, the posthumous novel of John Kennedy Toole. The book came with a star-crossed and tragic pedigree–the author had killed himself after failing to get it published, whereupon his grieving mother managed to get it into the hands of Walker Percy. The great southern novelist championed it and convinced editors at the University of Louisiana Press to publish it in hardcover. However, that wasn’t the end of the story. Meantime, Grove Press had acquired rights to publish a paperback edition, but the university press edition, though attracting much critical attention and press, had not really sold a lot of copies in hardcover. Herman, though working for Grove, took it upon himself to sell many thousands of copies of the LSU press edition to national wholesalers, such as Ingram where Cathy Hemming ordered copies. The market was seeded for the paperback edition. When Grove published it some months later it sold hundreds of thousands of copies, and millions since, in part owing to Herman’s work for the hardcover of another publishing house.

Herman told me that story sometime after 2000, the year he hired me to work with him at Carroll & Graf, the company he started in the mid-70s. Last night it was great seeing old C&G colleagues, Peter Skutches, Failey Patrick, Tina Pohlman, Bea Goldberg, and Claiborne Hancock. One of our authors, Stan Cohen was there, and his agent, Peter Sawyer. Agent, Laura Langlie, a friend to C&Gers, was also there. Norton execs Bill Rusin and Dozier Hammond also gave their best wishes in person, as did Bob Wietrak.

The seven years I spent with C&G were among the most productive, fun, and successful years of my publishing career. I learned so much working with Herman and got to hear some of the best–and often the funniest–stories about the business. Together we acquired many terrific books and published them creatively and energetically, including Susan MacDougal’s The Woman Who Wouldn’t Talk: Why I Wouldn’t Testify against the Clintons and What I Learned in Jail and Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife’s CIA Identity, both of which became NY Times bestsellers. The years there finally confirmed me on an editorial path I had begun to hew to by 2000, but had not yet fully embarked on–of publishing truthellers, whistleblowers, muckrakers, authors of such singular witness that only they could write the book in question.

Herman now works with Skyhorse Publishing, for whom a book he acquired, The General: Charles de Gaulle and the France He Saved by Jonathan Fenby, got a great review in last Sunday’s New York Times Book Review. He is not stepping back or slowing down.

Thanks to Tony Lyons and Jennifer McCartney of Skyhorse Publishing, and Claiborne Hancock, who after leaving Carroll&Graf started his own company, Pegasus Books. They did a great job of hosting and organizing the surprise party for our friend and colleague, Herman Graf.


Mitt’s Gang, Same as the Bush & Cheney Gang

This Politico story today by Maggie Haberman reveals that one of Mitt Romney’s bundlers is D.C. lobbyist Richard Hohlt, who was a “go-between” for reporter Robert Novak and the Bush White House in the scandal involving the leaking of Valerie Plame’s CIA identity. According to information that came out at the Scooter Libby trial in 2007, which was reported in the book I published with Murray Waas, The United States v. I. Lewis Libby, Novak sent a draft of his fateful column attacking Iraqi invasion critic Ambassador Joseph Wilson* and outing Wilson’s wife Plame as a CIA official, to Hohlt, who then sent on to the Bush White House. This is interesting on at least two counts.

1) Owing to the opacity and secrecy of the Romney campaign very little has been reported about Mitt’s bundlers, which unlike the Obama campaign, will not disclose any of these key fundraisers, who not only contribute themselves, but influence other donors to give, as well.

2) It shows that Mitt’s fundraising team, just like this foreign policy team, is dominated by unethical old warriors from the Bush years. This is hardly surprising, especially given Mitt’s partiality to Dick Cheney, for whom Scooter Libby was Chief of Staff before his conviction on obstruction of justice in the Plame matter.