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Telling Tales for Fun and Profit

The LA Times’ Johanna Neuman reports on an increasing trend of Washington politicos publishing their memoirs – warts and all, and the warts usually belong to other people. These days, Neuman writes, book parties have replaced cocktail hours in Washington social circles, and power is no longer measured in proximity to the Oval Office but in phone time with Bob Barnett, book agent for Bob Woodward and other aspiring political literary stars. Things have gotten so bad that the 8 a.m. staff meetings at the White House have reportedly gone chilly, with participants reluctant to express their views for fear someone at the table is taking notes or planning revenge—by the book.

“Everybody now has to think whenever they say anything about how it will look in the page of a book,” said Peter Osnos, a former Washington Post reporter who is founder and editor at large at PublicAffairs Books. “You’re saying something with the mike open. Is that a deterrent to free speech? Sure, but that’s life.” And expect a whole lot more in the kiss-and-tell front – but also remember that for the glut that appears on shelves, there’s probably ten times that amount that gets turned down before publication’s even possible…

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