Why Political Memoirs Are Hot: “They’re all trying to come out of it as a heroine or hero of the political circus around them.”

From a Town & Country story by Horacio Silva headlined “Why the Political Memoir is the Year’s Hottest Book Genre”:

Fifteen years ago, the once powerful book publisher Judith Regan, ruler of her own imprint at Rupert Murdoch’s Harper­Collins, embarked on a project of dubious distinction. Somehow she convinced O.J. Simpson to get on board with a mea culpa manqué about the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. It would be called If I Did It, and it had the makings of a blockbuster.

Regan had made a name for herself with other explosive confessionals, including works by Howard Stern, Jose Canseco, and Jenna Jameson, but this was of another order. An anointed star in Murdoch’s gallery of rogues, Regan knew this was one editorial coup that ticked all the mogul’s boxes: scandal, controversy, sales, and corporate synergy (the book would be published in conjunction with a television special on Fox). She was right: Her get became a sensation, but not in the way she expected.

Criticism poured in, Fox affiliate stations revolted, and the boss, in a rare show of humility, pulled the plug, stung by accusations of craven vulgarity. Eventually Murdoch fired Regan; she sued, getting a $10.75 million settlement; and the Simpson book became a best-seller, rebranded by the Goldman family with a much more apropos subtitle: Confessions of the Killer. Regan says she has no regrets….

“Everyone loves a good memoir. It’s a genre that will never die,” she says. “Even the most despicable person has the right to tell their story.”

At a time when redemption is in the air, former Trump administration officials and adjacent untouchables are getting ready for their close-ups with the last shreds of currency they have left: information, the more tantalizing and eyebrow-raising the better. They saw the book deals and sales of the first (and second and third) wave of blabbermouths, everyone from James Comey and John Bolton to Trump’s niece Mary, and they want a slice of the indiscretion abbondanza, even if the only road to laundering their reputations is betrayal….

“F. Scott Fitzgerald got it wrong when he said that there are no second acts in American life,” says amateur literary critic Anthony Scaramucci, who parlayed his 11 days as White House communications director in 2017 into Trump: The Blue-Collar President. “America loves a comeback story.”

At least, members of Trump’s inner circle are hoping that’s the case. Just as tarnished Nixon-era figures H.R. Haldeman, John Ehrlichman, Henry Kissinger, and John Dean rushed out books in the wake of Watergate, Kellyanne Conway, the cartoon villain Trump mouthpiece turned counselor, is rumored to be shopping her frontline tales as part of a rehabilitation tour, as are several of her former colleagues, including Vice President Mike Pence; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; chiefs of staff Mick Mulvaney and John Kelly; press secretary Kayleigh McEnany; European Union ambassador Gordon Sondland; and campaign manager Brad Parscale.

“It’s become a cottage industry,” says Douglas Brinkley, the historian and author of The Reagan Diaries. “A lot of people are trying to polish their records and get rid of the ragged edges to somehow make themselves profiles in courage at the end of the Trump years. They’re all going to try to come out of it as a heroine or hero of the political circus around them.”…

“The first thing any publisher thinks is, ‘Who’s the audience? Who’s going to buy this book?’ ” says literary agent David Kuhn, who has engineered a few attention-grabbing exposés, such as the late Scotty Bowers’s delicious kiss-and-tell about classic Hollywood. “There’s a big difference between the media wanting to talk to you and customers wanting to spend $30 on a book.”

That is a lesson for members of all political parties, from First Son Hunter Biden, whose addiction memoir is out this April, to Ivanka and Melania Trump, should they find a way out of the nondisclosure agreements they are no doubt bound by. In order to emulate the success of Michelle Obama, whose memoir, Becoming, is one of the best-­selling books of the past decade, or to match the enormous advances reaped by such tattletales as John Bolton (who is said to have received $2 million up front for his efforts), they are going to have to deliver relatable insights beyond, say, Barron Trump’s first crush or Jared Kushner’s skincare secrets.

“The bar is higher for celebrity books these days,” Kuhn says. “Just dishing, even if the dish is good—and that’s a big if—isn’t enough. Whatever it is will be online within five hours of the book announcement. What really matters is the emotional arc and how the story resonates with the reader on a personal level.”…

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