Hot, Hot, Hot: The Financial Crisis and Sarah Palin

Two topics seem to be very hot in the publishing industry right now: the financial crisis and Sarah Palin.

Let's start with the financial crisis. It's been bad news for many people, but maybe not entirely bad for Alan Greenspan: His book, The Age of Turbulence, has popped back onto the Washington Post bestseller list this week, in paperback with a new chapter on the current subprime mortgage fallout. The crisis has also reportedly boosted sales of Naomi Klein's The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism and of Kevin Phillips' Bad Money.


Demonstrators gather in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. (Photo By Nicholas Roberts/AFP/Getty Images)

Former Post business editor Peter Behr rounded up several new books about the economy in our Sept. 7 issue of Book World: Phillips's Bad Money; George Soros's The New Paradigm for Financial Markets; Mark Zandi's Financial Shock; and David Smick's The World Is Curved. Of the four, Behr called Zandi's the "most clinical" account of "the internal threats to U.S. prosperity" while praising Smick's "global perspective."

Another business writer here, Frank Ahrens, recently asked a gaggle of experts (Robert Rubin, Jagdish Bhagwati, etc.) for their recommended reading on the financial crisis and came up with suggestions ranging from Robert J. Shiller's recent The Subprime Solution o Charles Mackay's 1841 classic, Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

Lots more books are forthcoming. With extraordinary good timing, Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, is coming out Dec. 1 with Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity, published by W. W. Norton. Alice Shroeder's The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life, an authorized biography of the celebrated investor who just bought into Goldman Sachs to the tune of $5 billion, will be published by Bantam on Sept. 29.

Another Buffett biographer, Roger Lowenstein (he wrote Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist) is now working on a book tentatively titled Six Days That Shook the World, which its publisher, Penguin Press, says will be a "probing look" at the past week's events. According to report in the New York Observer, New York Times columnist Joe Nocera and Vanity Fair's Bethany McLean are planning to work together on a book about the crisis, and Slate columnist Daniel Gross is quickly writing one, too.

Several forthcoming books about Wall Street also will undoubtedly take into account the latest events; they include The Big Panic: Greenspan, Bernanke and the Race to Save the American Economy by Wall Street Journal economics editor David Wessel and The Sellout: How Wall Street Greed and Stupidity Destroyed America's Dominance of the Global Financial System by CNBC's Charles Gasparino.

As for Sarah Palin, Sarah: How a Hockey Mom Turned the Political Establishment Upside Down, by Kaylene Johnson, came out last spring, when the Alaska governor was still little-known nationally. But it was reprinted in paperback this month to meet rising demand.


Sarah Palin at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York City on Thursday. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Simon & Schuster also announced this week that People magazine's Lorenzo Benet will write a biography of Palin. It is scheduled for publication in February by Threshhold Editions, S&S's conservative imprint, where former Bush adviser Mary Matalin works and which most recently made news by publishing Jerone Corsi's The Obama Nation.

And two humor books that poke fun at Palin are due in bookstores soon: 101 Things You -- and John McCain -- Didn't Know About Sarah Palin and Terminatrix: The Sarah Palin Chronicles.

What do the financial crisis and the Republican nominee for vice president have in common? Maybe, on first glance, that not many people saw them coming.

Then again, the fact that a biography of the first-term governor of a sparsely-populated state came out earlier this year suggests that at least some people had their eyes on Palin, who was a rising star among social conservatives. And the sheer number of books already published or in the works about the subprime mortgage mess (and what it means for the broader economy) suggests that quite a few writers, for quite a few major publications, saw the potential for economic meltdown.

By Alan Cooperman |  September 26, 2008; 7:53 AM ET Alan Cooperman
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"Simon & Schuster also announced this week that People magazine's Lorenzo Benet will write a biography of Palin. It is scheduled for publication in February..."

Okay, given that the election is viewed as close, they seem to be taking the even bet that Palin will remain relevant. If her ticket doesn't win, it's hard to imagine her having any real significance nationally in the future. Here is a list of former losing party VP nominees:

04: John Edwards (D)
00: Joe Lieberman (D)
96: Jack Kemp (R)
92: Dan Quayle (R)
88: Lloyd Bentsen (D)
84: Geraldine Ferraro (D)
80: Walter Mondale (D)
76: Bob Dole (R)
72: Sargent Shriver (D)
68: Edmund Muskie (D)
64: William Miller (R)
60: Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (R)
56: Estes Kefavour (D)
52: John Sparkman (D)
48: Earl Warren (R)
44: John W. Bricker (R)
40: Charles L. McNary (R)
36: Frank Knox (R)
32: Charles Curtis (R)
28: Joseph Taylor Robinson (D)
24: Charles W. Bryan (D)
20: Franklin Delano Roosevelt (D)

Granted, some of these people remained relevant in their roles as Senators. Others were appointed prominent positions: Warren became Chief Justice; Muskie Secretary of State. I highly doubt Palin would be up for any of these positions. The only possible office would be Energy and there would be stiff opposition from the left. But in terms of national office (VP or P), you have to go back to 1920 to find some losing VP nominee who comes back to win.

What I'm saying is that in addition to the usual publishing gambles: will the book meet deadline?, will it be written well?, how will the reviewers respond?, will you beat competitors to market?, etc. They have the gamble of whether Palin will even be relevant.

OTOH, I suppose the tone of the book could change depending on the outcome of the election...

Posted by: Terry | September 26, 2008 1:14 PM

Seems to me that the 700B bailout is just the parting shot culmination of what they started with 9/11.
The coup d'etat is complete.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 27, 2008 4:01 PM

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