This post is also available in: العربية
Arabic rights in A Warning, the White House exposé due out from Hachette imprint Twelve in the US and Little Brown in the UK on 19 November, are still available Nasher understands, though it seems a deal surely can’t be far off given the headlines the title is already making. A previous exposé, Michel Woolf’s Fire and Fury, sold to All Prints in Beirut and was a global bestseller.
A Warning is written by an anonymous senior White House official who, in their own words, is ‘part of the resistance inside the Trump Administration’. It began with a now-famous Op Ed piece in the New York Times in which the author was damning about the country’s leader. ‘The root of the problem is the president’s amorality,’ the staffer wrote: ‘Anyone who works with him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.’
The despairing official continued: ‘Although he was elected as a Republican, the president shows little affinity for ideals long espoused by conservatives: free minds, free markets and free people. At best, he has invoked these ideals in scripted settings. At worst, he has attacked them outright.
‘In addition to his mass-marketing of the notion that the press is the “enemy of the people,” President Trump’s impulses are generally anti-trade and anti-democratic.’
What makes the writer’s verdict even more damning is the fact that it isn’t all critical. The author is obviously a Republican – because he or she is on Trump’s senior staff – and notes that there are ‘bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture: effective deregulation, historic tax reform, a more robust military and more’.
But the staffer says these successes ‘have come despite — not because of — the president’s leadership style, which is impetuous, adversarial, petty and ineffective’.
The President has suggested that the writing of the article – and subsequent book – amount to an act of ‘treason’, and there has been an exchange of letters between the Department of Justice and Anonymous’ literary agent, Matt Lattimer at the Washington DC-based Javelin agency. The DoJ wants to know if the author signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and had access to classified information. But lawyers say it would be difficult for the White House to sue the author even if that person had signed a nondisclosure agreement. They argue that these agreements are difficult to enforce, even more so when the author’s words could be interpreted as being in the public interest.
“An NDA between private individuals is very different from an NDA with a government organisation because the First Amendment protects citizens from the government silencing their speech,” said Jessica A. Levinson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
At Javelin, Matt Latimer said: “Our author knows that the president is determined to unmask whistleblowers who may be in his midst. That’s one of the reasons A Warning was written. But we support the publisher [Hachette US] in its resolve that the administration’s effort to intimidate and expose the senior official who has seen misconduct at the highest levels will not prevent this book from moving forward.”
In the US, Sean Desmond, publisher at Hachette imprint Twelve, also bought French and Spanish translation rights. Now, booksellers on both sides of the Atlantic await the arrival of a title that is sure to lead to yet more ‘fire and fury’ from the White House – and likely some furious sales too.