Anguish, Grief, and Despair: New York Times Caves, Puts Ted Cruz Book on Bestseller List

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Depressed New York Times staffers, reported to be on suicide watch since the scandal began, struggle to endure the hardship of working at a newspaper that accurately lists Ted Cruz’s bestselling book. 

KATIE MCHUGH reports: The New York Times acknowledged on Wednesday that the book, A Time for Truth, belongs on its best-seller list and gave it a no. 7 ranking in nonfiction, after snubbing it and accusing the Cruz campaign of making “strategic bulk purchases.”

Harper Collins sent an inquiring email to The New York Times last week after the book’s impressive sales were ignored by the paper.

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“We have uniform standards that we apply to our best seller list, which includes an analysis of book sales that goes beyond simply the number of books sold,” spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said, according to Politico. “This book didn’t meet that standard this week.”

[Order Ted Cruz’s bestselling book – excluded by the New York Times! “A Time for Truth: Reigniting the Promise of America” from Amazon.com]

Cruz’s campaign furiously attacked The New York Times for their deliberate omission.

“The Times is presumably embarrassed by having their obvious partisan bias called out. But their response — alleging ‘strategic bulk purchases’ — is a blatant falsehood. The evidence is directly to the contrary. In leveling this false charge, the Times has tried to impugn the integrity of Senator Cruz and of his publisher HarperCollins,” Cruz campaign spokesperson Rick Tyler told Politico on Friday.

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New York Times Spokesman responding to the inclusion of Ted Cruz’s book

Amazon also pushed back. An Amazon spokeswoman said that A Time for Truth: was a bestselling book and they found no evidence of “unusual bulk purchase activity.” Cruz’s book currently ranks as the number-one best-selling book in “Political Conservatism & Liberalism” on Amazon. Read the rest of this entry »


Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’: Read the First Chapter

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Read the first chapter of Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ which will be published July 14

In 1957, when she was 31 years old, Harper Lee submitted her first attempt at a novel to the publisher J.B. Lippincott

Titled ‘Go Set a Watchman,’ it was set in the ’50s and opened with a woman named Jean Louise Finch returning home to Alabama. Ms. Lee’s editor found the story lacking but, seizing on flashback scenes, suggested that she write instead about her protagonist as a young girl. The result was a Pulitzer Prize-winning classic: ‘To Kill a Mockingbird.’

[Order Harper Lee’s long-awaited book “Go Set a Watchman: A Novel”  from Amazon.com]

Go Set a Watchman’ will be published on Tuesday. It has undergone very little editing. “It was made clear to us that Harper Lee wanted it published as it was,” Jonathan Burnham, publisher of HarperCollins’s Harper imprint, said in a statement. “We gave the book a very light copy edit.”

The first chapter of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ introduces Ms. Lee’s beloved character, Scout, as a sexually liberated woman in her twenties, traveling from New York to Alabama to visit her ailing father and weigh a marriage proposal from a childhood friend. It also includes a bombshell about Scout’s brother.

–Jennifer Maloney

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The author in 1962 on the ‘Mockingbird’ set with Mary Badham, who played Scout. PHOTO: EVERETT COLLECTION / EVERETT COLLECTION

Read the first chapter here

Listen to Reese Witherspoon narrate ‘Go Set a Watchman’

 WSJ


‘How I Found the Harper Lee Manuscript’

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Much has been said lately about the discovery of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ and when it occurred. Here’s the full story…

Tonja B. Carter writes: Accidents of history sometimes place otherwise unknown people in historic spotlights. Such was my fate when last August curiosity got the best of me and I found a long-lost manuscript written by one of America’s most beloved authors. The manuscript was titled “Go Set a Watchman,” and its author was Harper Lee.

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“As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.”

In the time since it was announced that “Watchman” was found and Harper Lee—or Nelle, her first name, used by family and friends—decided to have it published, much has been said about how it was found, who found it, who go set a watchman harper leeknew of its existence, and when it was first found. As Nelle’s estate trustee, lawyer and friend, I would like to tell the full story, fill in any blanks that may be in people’s minds, and provide a historical context for those interested in how this book went from lost to being found.

[Order Harper Lee’s long-awaited book “Go Set a Watchman: A Novel” from Amazon.com]

The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets. Alice, who has since died, was an attorney and until the last few years of her life handled most business matters for Nelle, who lives in an assisted-living facility. Mr. Pinkus was particularly interested in having the original manuscript for “To Kill a Mockingbird” examined and appraised. He said he needed to open Nelle’s safe-deposit box, where it was assumed the manuscript was held.

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[Also see – The To Kill a Mockingbird Sequel’s First Printing Will Be 400 Times Bigger Than the Original]

[More – Agency Ends Probe Into Publication of New Novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ by ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee]

[More – Book Review: In Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Atticus Finch Defends Jim Crow]

The box was opened some months later, on Oct. 14, at a bank in Monroeville, Ala., Nelle’s hometown and mine. Present that day: Mr. Pinkus, Justin Caldwell, an appraiser from Sotheby’s, who came to Monroeville at his request, and myself. Nelle’s safe-deposit box contained several items, including an old cardboard box from Lord & Taylor and a heavy, partially opened but tightly wrapped mailing envelope sent from Lippincott, the original publishers of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to Alice Lee and postmarked Jan. 3, 1961.

Harper Lee in the Monroeville courthouse. Photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Harper Lee in the Monroeville courthouse. Photo: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

“The story begins in June 2011 when Sam Pinkus, who was Nelle’s literary agent at the time, contacted her sister, Alice, and asked that he be allowed to examine and inventory Nelle’s assets.”

The Lord & Taylor box contained several hundred pages of typed original manuscript. After we all read a couple of pages, someone mentioned that the first page was not the first page of “Mockingbird,” but rather seemed to be a later chapter. I was then asked to retrieve a copy of the “Mockingbird” book so that Mr. Caldwell could compare what actually ended up in the book with the first page of the manuscript. After returning with a copy of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” I then left the meeting and didn’t return. According to recent press reports, Mr. Pinkus and Mr. Caldwell spent about an hour examining the documents.

Harper Lee..Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visting her home town.  (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)  mail_sender Matthew Fearn   mail_subject Harper Lee  mail_date Tue, 3 Feb 2015 17:47:10 +0000  mail_body --  Best Matt ------ *Matthew Fearn* *Picture Editor - The Daily Telegraph* *Landline:** +44 207 931 2660 * *Twitter: @pixed *

Harper Lee, Author of To Kill a Mockingbird Harper Lee, while visting her home town. (Photo by Donald Uhrbrock/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

[Read the full story here, at WSJ]

The next day I received an email from Mr. Caldwell, the Sotheby’s appraiser, saying “it was so nice to meet you yesterday and to get to see that manuscript.” He made no mention of the existence of a second, unknown book. And the following day, Sam Pinkus wrote to me that “Nelle is under no obligation to Sotheby’s whatsoever, including no obligation for Nelle to sell or auction the items.” Again, no mention of a second book.

Why does any of this matter? Roll things forward to less than two weeks ago, as the publication of “Go Set a Watchman” neared. Read the rest of this entry »


Book Review: In Harper Lee’s ‘Go Set a Watchman’ Atticus Finch Defends Jim Crow

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One of the few unambiguously heroic figures in American literature was originally conceived as a segregationist
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Sam Sacks writes: Ever since the announcement in February that a second novel by Harper Lee had been found among her papers, untold numbers of readers have been counting the minutes until its publication. And why not? Ms. Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) is the most beloved novel in American history—more popular than even the Bible in numerous polls.

[Order Harper Lee’s classic “To Kill a Mockingbird” (Enhanced Edition) (Harperperennial Modern Classics) from Amazon.com

But the anticipation has somewhat obscured the awkward details about “Go Set a Watchman,” as the novel is called (the title comes from the Book of Isaiah). Although it is set in the mid-1950s, around 20 years after “To Kill a Mockingbird,” it is not a sequel. Ms. Lee, who is now 89, wrote it first, submitted it to a publisher in 1957 and, on an editor’s advice, refashioned it into the book that’s now assigned in grade schools all over the country.

Harper Lee with Gregory Peck, the star of the 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Harper Lee with Gregory Peck, the star of the 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Properly speaking, “Go Set a Watchman” is a practice run for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and it existed before anybody could have known that small-town Alabama lawyer Atticus Finch would become a symbol of the nation’s moral conscience. All this throat clearing is not meant to damp the enthusiasm of expectant readers but to introduce a friendly go set a watchman harper leeword of caution. “Go Set a Watchman” is a distressing book, one that delivers a startling rebuttal to the shining idealism of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” This story is of the toppling of idols; its major theme is disillusion.

[Order Harper Lee’s long-awaited bookGo Set a Watchman: A Novel” from Amazon.com]

There’s little hint of darkness as the novel begins. Twenty-six-year-old Jean Louise Finch, better known to us by her childhood nickname Scout, is returning to Maycomb, Ala., for a two-week vacation. For the past five years, Jean Louise has been living in New York City trying to make it as a painter. Her older brother Jem—I regret to report—has died of a heart attack. But her father, Atticus, is still hanging on. Seventy-two and suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, he is cared for by his priggish, busybody sister Alexandra.

[Read Sam Sacks’ full book review here, at WSJ]

Then there’s a brand-new character, Henry Clinton. Henry is Atticus’s protégé at the law firm, and he has Featured Image -- 60513carried a torch for Jean Louise since high school. She is hardly off the train before he is again proposing marriage, which she coyly declines: “I want to be like Dr. Schweitzer and play until I’m thirty.” This is how the two talk, trading enough sassy banter to fill a Hepburn-Tracy movie.

Go Set a Watchman” is told in the third person, but it stays close to Jean Louise’s perspective and contains the familiar pleasures of Ms. Lee’s writing—the easy, drawling rhythms, the flashes of insouciant humor, the love of anecdote. Read the rest of this entry »


Brian Lowry: Rupert Murdoch History: Fox Head Was the Original Disruptor

***EXCLUSIVE*** Portrait of Rupert Murdoch, international media executive, January 31, 1977 in New York City. (Photo by Arnold Newman/Getty Images) writes: “Disruptive technology” has become one of the favorite buzz phrases in today’s media environment, referring to innovations that have rapidly reshaped the industry. Yet long before many of those gadgets came into being, Rupert Murdoch was, in many ways, the great disruptor.

At first blush, it’s strange to think of Murdoch — who was 56 years old when the Fox network made its primetime debut in 1987 — as some sort of renegade. As the head of a major media conglomerate, he’s been a firmly entrenched part of the establishment.

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Through the series of deals on which he built Fox, however, as well as the expansion of the studio, Murdoch has seldom been bound by convention. Read the rest of this entry »


Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’: Unpublished Passages Give Fresh Insight

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Madeleine L’Engle’s ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ has sold 14 million copies since its publication in 1962. Now, a never-before-seen passage cut from an early draft is shedding surprising light on the author’s political philosophy.

editor-commen-deskJennifer Maloney writes what I believe might be the most-read item in this week’s Wall Street Journal. Where to begin? When I think of the popular library material that influenced me and every one of my wrinkle-triologyclassmates in elementary school, I’d include the original “Little House on the Prairie” books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, dog-eared collections of Charles Schultz’s “Peanuts”, “The Outsiders“, by S.E. Hinton, and Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time“. Easily one of the most-loved, most-read books of the second half of the 20th century.

[Order the “A Wrinkle in Time” Trilogy from Amazon.com]

Fresh on the heels of the announcement of the publication of an unseen novel by ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee, now we learn that an unknown three-page passage in the 1962 book “A Wrinkle in Time” has surfaced, sure to stir new interest among the author’s many fans and admirers.

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“…the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism. Instead, it’s about the risk of any country—including a democracy—placing too much value on security. The tension between safety and personal freedom is an idea that resonates in today’s politics…”

Jennifer Maloney writes: Madeleine L’Engle, the author of “A Wrinkle in Time,” resisted labels. Her books weren’t for children, she said. They were for people. Devoted to religious study, she bristled when called a Christian writer. And though some of her books had political themes, she wasn’t known to write overtly about politics. That is, until her granddaughter, Charlotte Jones Voiklis, came across an unknown three-page passage that was cut before publication.

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The passage, which Ms. Voiklis shared with The Wall Street Journal so it could be published for the first time, sheds new light on one of the most beloved and best-selling young-adult books in American literature. Published in 1962, “A Wrinkle in Time” has sold 14 million copies and inspired a TV-movie adaptation, a graphic novel, and an opera.

“‘Security is a most seductive thing,’ he tells his daughter. ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.'”

Meg Murry, the novel’s strong-willed misfit heroine, has been a role model for generations of children, especially girls. Now, Jennifer Lee, the co-writer and co-director of the Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen,” is writing a film adaptation for Disney.

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A witches’ brew of science fiction and fantasy, Christian theology and a hint of politics, “A Wrinkle in Time” has long been considered influenced by the Cold War. It explores the dangers of conformity, and presents evil as a world whose inhabitants’ thoughts and actions are controlled by a sinister, disembodied brain.

[Read the full text of Jennifer Maloney‘s article here, at the WSJ]

Many readers, then and now, have understood the book’s dark planet Camazotz—a regimented place in which mothers in unison call their children in for dinner—to represent the Soviet Union. But the passage discovered by L’Engle’s granddaughter presents a more nuanced worldview.

Madeleine L'Engle in her office at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, 1977Photo: Crosswicks, Ltd.

Madeleine L’Engle in her office at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in NYC, 1977 Photo: Crosswicks, Ltd.

In it, Meg has just made a narrow escape from Camazotz. As Meg’s father massages her limbs, which are frozen from a jarring trip through space and time, she asks: “But Father, how did the Black Thing—how did it capture Camazotz?” Her father proceeds to lay out the political philosophy behind the book in much starker terms than are apparent in the final version.

“As an 11-year-old, I read ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ and spent many a daydream and sleepless night imagining what it would be like to break free from the limitations of time.”

— Jennifer Lee, the co-writer and co-director of the Oscar-winning animated film, “Frozen

He says that yes, totalitarianism can lead to this kind of evil. (The author calls out examples by name, including Hitler, Mussolini and Khrushchev.) But it can also happen in a democracy that places too much value on security, Mr. Murry says. “Security is a most seductive thing,” he tells his daughter. “I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the greatest evil there is.”

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Ms. Voiklis said she wanted readers to know the book wasn’t a simple allegory of communism. Instead, it’s about the risk of any country—including a democracy—placing too much value on security. The tension between safety and personal freedom is an idea that resonates in today’s politics.

“It’s normal to be afraid,” said Ms. Voiklis, who manages her late grandmother’s estate full-time in New York. “But you can’t let the fear control your decisions. Otherwise, you risk becoming like Camazotz.”438

Ms. Voiklis found the excerpt a few years ago, as she was doing research for the release of the book’s 50th-anniversary edition. It was part of the earliest surviving typewritten manuscript, which for years was stored in L’Engle’s home and later moved to storage.

A Wrinkle in Time” is a cultural touchstone. The Newbery Medal-winner was the first of five books in L’Engle’s so-called Time Quintet. On “Lost,” the television series whose cult following dissected its frequent literary references, the bookworm Sawyer reads a copy of “A Wrinkle in Time.”

The novel inspired author Rebecca Stead to write her own Newbery Medal-winning book, “When You Reach Me,” whose protagonist, Miranda, reads “A Wrinkle in Time.” L’Engle’s works have also sparked the interest of scholars in the U.S. and abroad. In 2012, Farrar, Straus and Giroux published an oral history titled “Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices,” by literary historian and biographer Leonard S. Marcus. Read the rest of this entry »


Agency Ends Probe Into Publication of New Novel ‘Go Set a Watchman’ by ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ Author Harper Lee

Harper Lee in the Monroeville courthouse. Photograph: Donald Uhrbrock/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images

Surprise news of second book prompted speculation over whether she is capable of consent 

(MONTGOMERY, Ala.) —Kim Chandler reports: Alabama investigators looked into whether the recent deal to publish Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird” sequel involved financial fraud, but they have closed the inquiry, a state official said Thursday.

Harper Lee with Gregory Peck, the star of the 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

Harper Lee with Gregory Peck, the star of the 1962 adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

“’To Kill a Mockingbird’ is among the most beloved novels in history, with worldwide sales topping 40 million copies. It was released on July 11, 1960, won the Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a 1962 movie of the same name.”

Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg said his agency sent an investigator to speak with Lee at the request of the Alabama Department of Human Resources. Borg said the department, which handles complaints of elder abuse, asked his investigators toHarper Lee look into the situation because of their expertise in financial matters.

“We closed the file. Let’s just say that she was able to answer questions we asked to our satisfaction from our point of view.”

— Alabama Securities Commission Director Joseph Borg

The surprise news that the 88-year-old author would publish a second book prompted speculation over whether she is capable of giving consent to the publication.

“We don’t make competency determinations. We’re not doctors. But unless someone tells us to go back in, our file is closed on it.”

— Joseph Borg

A high-ranking state official said the Department of Human Resources began an investigation into Lee’s treatment following news that her second novel would be released. The official wasn’t authorized to release the information publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity. It’s unclear whether that investigation entails anything beyond the interview the commission employees did with Lee, who lives in an assisted-living facility in her south Alabama hometown of Monroeville, the inspiration for “Mockingbird.”

Barry Spear, a spokesman for the department, declined comment. Read the rest of this entry »