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Another “Unexpected” Publishing Success Story

The New York Times’ Motoko Rich reports on the bestseller status of former Navy Seal Marcus Luttrell‘s LONE SURVIVOR, a dramatic memoir of his time in Afghanistan. Luttrell’s book, with 275,000 copies in print, describes how was the only one of four men on the mission to survive after a violent clash with dozens of Taliban fighters. Eight members of the Seals and eight Army special operations soldiers who came by helicopter to rescue the original four were shot down, and all aboard were killed.

So no wonder the book (which was co-authored with Patrick Robinson and bought by Little, Brown in an auction for a seven-figure advance) been doing well, but the surprise is that so far, LONE SURVIVOR has outsold books about Pat Tillman or Jessica Lynch, and that it’s crawled up to the top of the NYT Bestseller list. Less surprising is how this happened: strong support from military blogs and right-wing pundits like Michelle Malkin as well as appearances with Matt Lauer on the TODAY Show with Glenn Beck on the radio and on CNN Headline News. But the media exposure helped regular readers like to find, and then buy, the book. “It’s obvious that there are some people reading it who aren’t traditional military readers,” said Mary McCarthy, director of merchandising at wholesaler Ingram Book Group.

Luttrell said that his main goal was to tell the story of his comrades who did not make it out alive. “Now I think the American public knows who they are, and now they are forever immortalized,” said Luttrell, who added that he has set up a trust with all the proceeds from the book to help the families of the dead and to donate to military charities. “Their memory will never die out, and that’s what I wanted.”

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