Today in books: Bill Clinton reviewed the new Robert Caro book for The New York Times, the Fox News mole is shopping a book that Fox-bashers will adore, and the giant hedge fund that sponsors the Man Booker Prize is having a bad run of luck.
The release of The Passage of Power, the fourth book in Robert Caro's multi-volume history of Lyndon Johnson, is a seismic event for political junkies, historiographers present and future, and appreciators of literary biography. To mark the occasion, The New York Times Sunday Book Review assigned the review to special presidential guest critic Bill Clinton. As one would expect, he loved it. Clinton makes sure to praise Caro for various writerly things (like "sparkling details"), but it's more a consideration of Lyndon Johnson -- specifically, his willingness to take legislative big swings -- and the nature of the American presidency. Before Vietnam consumed him, Clinton writes, Johnson "knew what the presidency was for: to get to people — to members of Congress, often with tricks up his sleeve; to the American people, by wearing his heart on his sleeve." [The New York Times]
Fox News mole-in-exile Joe Muto has apparently been meeting with publishers this week to discuss a proposed book about his time with the network, tentatively titled An Atheist in a Foxhole. (Ugh.) Muto's agent touted the text's appeal to the "thriving cottage industry of people who love to hate Fox News.” [The New York Observer]
The bizarre story of Bo Xilai, the former high-ranking official in China's Communist Party whose wife is accused of killing a British businessman, has been a boon to Hong Kong's authors of quickie true crime tales. "At least 12" books have already been churned out about "Mr. Bo," popping up "across Hong Kong in the past month and are being sold everywhere, from newspaper stalls to airport shops." Visitors from mainland China gobble up copies at the airport, slipping new covers on their purchases to smuggle the pulpy contraband home. [The Wall Street Journal]
The Man Group, the hedge fund that sponsors the Man Booker Prize, is facing questions about whether the $59 billion firm could be the object of a takeover" due to poor market performance and a plummeting stock price. What does that mean for the future of one of the world's most coveted literary prizes? Nothing yet. But Man Group is "he worst-performing stock in the FTSE 100, reaching an 11-year low last week" and trying to raise more capital. But if there is a takeover, it's unknown how the buyer will feel about subsidizing a prestigious book award. [Deal Book]
Jonathan Lethem delivers the fiercest and most evocative defense of the used bookstore -- not just as a place to get cheap books, but as a place with semi-mystical qualities -- in an interview with The Believer. [The Believer]