One would think that when a senior editor at publishing giant Simon & Schuster received a book proposal from a literary agent representing the platoon-mates of Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl she would have been excited. After all, Bergdahl, who was with the Taliban for nearly five years, is something of a celebrity. Obama did his customary victory shuffle in the Rose Garden with Bergdahl’s parents as back-up dancers. These guys have testified before Congress. Plus, you just know Bergdahl has a ghost-writer and agent hard at work right now.
When senior editor Sarah Durand, of Simon & Schuster’s Atria Books imprint saw the proposal she was underwhelmed. You’d think the editor of such epic works of literature as Kirstie Allie’s The Art of Men could recognize a potential blockbuster. Look at her record:
After a decade working her way up the editorial ladder at William Morrow,Sarah Durand is relocating to Simon & Schuster‘s Atria Books imprint after the Labor Day weekend, retaining her current title of senior editor.
Durand’s recent portfolio of acquisitions for the Morrow, Avon, and Harper imprints ranges a memoir from the wife of the lead singer for Stone Temple Pilots and an etiquette guide for Goths to a tour of the world’s Jewish communities (“from Rangoon to Havana and from Tehran to the hills of Uganda,” according to the deal announcement). Her track record is most clearly established, however, in the acquisition of mysteries and thrillers. Either way, she looks to be a good fit with Atria’s existing areas of focus.
But the political furor over Bergdahl’s release from Taliban captivity — the result of a U.S.-Taliban deal to swap five Guantanamo terrorism suspects in exchange for Bergdahl’s freedom — is complicating the book’s prospects. Agents for the soldiers say that some publishers have balked, in at least one case out of fear that the project would bolster conservative criticism of the Obama administration.
“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.
“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'” — a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign. (Durand did not respond to requests for comment. “We do not comment about our editorial process,” said Paul Olsewski, vice president and director of publicity at Atria.)
Durand apparently thinks someone died and she became commissar. Her duty to her employer would seem, at least to those of us in the hinterlands, to be making money for that employer. Not deciding that a president, who, by the way is not eligible to run for re-election, might suffer some minor political damage by a book’s publication.
But in the Age of Obama, every leftist’s first loyalty is to Obama. If it requires cheating their employer of revenue or depriving the public of information that is a small price to pay for defending their Deity.