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August 6th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

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.

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July 22nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Personal History, Family, Friends, Education, Travels; Publishing & Bookselling

New Rizzoli Bookstore Opens for One Night to Media—Public Opening July 27

As I wrote on this blog last week, I’m now working at the soon-to-reopen at Rizzoli Bookstore’s new store in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan. Last night we held a reception for media and book publishing professionals in our handsome, still-under-construction new digs. There was a ribbon cutting with the Manhattan Borough President and celebrity toasts (pictures below). It was a thrill to meet many people to the space and say, “Welcome to Rizzoli’s new bookstore!” I was tickled to bump in to an old friend, Ralph Gardner, Jr., who I knew in NY back in the ’90s, and whose Wall St. Journal article on Rizzoli’s exciting plans, published almost a year ago, I linked to in my post last week. We’ll begin welcoming customers with a soft opening next Monday, July 27. The new store is at 1133 Broadway, near 26th St. This will be a very exciting week.

This photo I took during last night’s party shows gorgeous murals of the Italian artist Fornasetti above the expanse of our literature section.
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Click here for more of my iPhone shots from last night.

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July 16th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Personal history, Family, Friends; Philip Turner Book Productions; Publishing & Bookselling

Happy to be Back in Bookselling with the New Rizzoli Bookstore

To longtime readers of this blog, and many, many friends in the book business, I’m excited to announce a new venture I’m going to be part of. I’ll be working as a bookseller in the soon-to-be-reopening Rizzoli Bookstore here in New York City. You may recall that last year Rizzoli lost its prior location on W. 57th St when their lease there ended. They’ve found a fabulous new location in the St. James, a landmark building on Broadway between 25th St and 26th St in the booming Manhattan neighborhood of NoMad (north of Madison Park). The Wall St Journal’s Ralph Gardner wrote about Rizzoli’s plans in a story here. Earlier this month, Rizzoli sent out this fact sheet. Decorated handsomely with elegant fixtures in a museum-like setting, the new 5,000 square foot store will offer a stellar inventory of illustrated books in art, photography, architecture, interior design, fashion, film, theater, dance, music, and cooking, along with current releases and classics in fiction and nonfiction, and childrens books. The selection of titles will be fabulous.

The store will have a soft opening, apt for our sultry summer weather, starting July 27. While I’m already spending lots of my time there to help get the store opened and underway, and will continue working many hours in the early weeks once it opens, my longterm schedule will nonetheless permit me to continue operating Philip Turner Book Productions, my editorial service and publishing consultancy, and in fact have completed work on two manuscripts for author clients this month.

I am really excited with this opportunity to be back working on the floor of a well-stocked bookstore, which brings my career full circle. It all began for me with Undercover Books, the three-store indie chain I ran with my family in Cleveland, a business I worked in from 1978 until 1985, when I came to NYC and began working in publishing. I worked for big publishing houses from 1986 until 2009, when I began my consultancy. Now, thirty years after leaving Undercover Books, I’m back as a bookseller. I look forward to seeing NY friends and visitors to the city in the new Rizzoli Bookstore, at 1133 Broadway.

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June 4th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Book Biz; Philip Turner's Books & Writing

Saluting Daniel Halpern, Venerable Champion of Fiction Writers

I was delighted to see Publishers Weekly reporting this afternoon that Daniel Halpern of Ecco Press​ is being awarded The Center for Fiction​’s annual #MaxwellPerkinsPrize for “championing writers of fiction in the United States.” I met Dan in 1987, when his stewardship at the literary magazine Antaeus brought us in to contact. A book I’d edited and published, Suite for Calliope: A Novel of Music and the Circus, won the Drue Heinz Literary Prize, an award sponsored by Antaeus.

Ironically, I had earlier encountered the circus novel, by an as-yet unpublished writer named Ellen Hunnicutt, when I worked as first reader/contest judge at Scribner, who at the time sponsored a first novel prize in Max Perkins’s illustrious name*. Though Hunnicutt’s didn’t win that contest, when my Scribner stint ended I got my first full-time job as an acquiring editor, at Walker & Company, contacted Ms Hunnicutt, and made her book my first-ever fiction acquisition. Some months later, with the novel edited and in galleys, Ellen was named recipient of a different award, the Drue Heinz Literature Prize, chosen and given by Antaeus, for a distinguished body of work in short stories. A few months after Walker & Co published Suite for Calliope, by virtue of an Antaeus arrangement with the University of Pittsburgh Press, Hunnicutt’s short fiction was published in a collection titled In the Music Library. This link leads to other essays I’ve written for this blog that chronicle my experience in acquiring and editing Hunnicutt’s truly exceptional novel. The book received a starred review in Kirkus, sold out its hardcover printing, and Dell acquired the paperback rights. All in all, it was a great experience to have with the first novel I ever worked on, made all the better by Dan Halpern’s generosity toward my author. To me, it is truly fitting that Dan will receive the later iteration of the Maxwell Perkins Prize. I look forward to congratulating him in person.

* As Editor-in-Chief of Scribner in the 1920s-40s, Perkins edited and published novels by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Thomas Wolfe, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, among many acclaimed authors.

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June 3rd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Art, Film, TV, Photography, Fine Printing & Design; Book Biz; Media, Blogging, Internet

Distributed Art Publishers (D.A.P.), Great Resource for Art Books at Book Expo America

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June 2nd, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Music, Bands & Radio

Jean Ritchie, Great American Folksinger, RIP

Below is a video with a bit more than a minute of the great folksinger Jean Ritchie talking about her songs and how she learned them. Such an impressive woman. She died recently at age 92, as reported in today’s NY Times obit. She was born in Kentucky in 1922, heard songs all her life there, then moved to New York City in the 1950s, where she became a mainstay of the budding folk song movement. She played fretted dulcimer and knew hundreds of songs from the Appalachians and the British Isles. I heard her perform at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in the late 1970s/early ’80s. Ritchie’s 1955 book—”Singing Family of the Cumberlands”—featured songs she grew up singing at home in Kentucky, with illustrations, surprisingly enough, by Maurice Sendak! The book is still in print, from University of Kentucky Press. 

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May 14th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Technology, Science & Computers

Inuit Elders Note “the Sky Has Changed”

Inuit elders' warning to NASA: "The Earth has shifted, the sky has changed." #Unprecedented

Posted by Philip Turner on Tuesday, 7 April 2015

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May 8th, 2015

By Philip Turner in: Canada; Music, Bands & Radio

Excited I’ll be Attending the CBC Music Festival in Toronto, May 23

This should be lots of fun—an all-day outdoor music festival in Toronto sponsored by CBC Music, with some great acts. Tickets are available via this link