Rare Book Monthly

Articles - February - 2018 Issue

Fire & Fury - Biggest Nonfiction Bestseller in Modern History

B77c31ac-d52d-44e4-b47d-0e10d4aaebe5

Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff is the best selling work of nonfiction in modern history.

Looking for a sleaze tell-all about a sleaze president? Seek no further. Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House is the scandal du jour. The juicy political gossip book by Michael Wolff is not only the biggest seller in the history of publisher Henry Holt & Co., it’s the best selling nonfiction title in modern history.

 

Wolff, best known as a Hollywood Reporter journalist, hit the jackpot with his fly-on-the-wall reporting of doings inside the new administration. Excerpts published in New York Magazine on January 3 caused an immediate sensation both inside and outside the beltway. 

 

Spurred by response, Holt pushed the book’s release date up and the initial printing pegged at 150,000 was completely sold out on the first day.

 

By January 24, USA Today reported the title had sold 1.7 million copies in the combined formats of hardcover, ebook and audio. The same day, publisher Holt told The Associated Press that the title was spending its third consecutive week at #1 on the USA Today best seller list and remained No. 1 on Amazon.com and other lists.

 

In late January John Sargent, CEO of Holt’s parent company, MacMillan, said that ebook sales exceed 250,000 copies and more than 100,000 have been sold in audio.

 

Holt president and publisher Stephen Rubin told the AP recently that he first learned about a possible Trump book when he and Wolff dined late in 2016. It was soon after Trump’s surprise election, and Wolff mentioned that he had a “really good chance” to get White House access from the new administration. Rubin, who had released Wolff’s 2008 biography of Rupert Murdoch, The Man Who Owns the News, said he quickly worked out a deal to publish the Trump book.

 

Rubin has said he was hoping Trump would tweet about Fire and Fury. When Trump not only tweeted but threatened to sue, sales exploded. The first press run was not nearly enough to meet the demand, and only near the end of January did Amazon have hardcovers immediately on hand.

 

It wasn’t only the legit copies that were flying off the shelf. Motherboard and other tech sites reported it as the most pirated book in recent history with knock-off PDF files abounding in the darker corners of the internet and many of them, according to Forbes, infected with malware.

 

Macht nicht.

 

Wolff quickly became the darling of the media circuit; he was the guest who was interviewed everywhere. “I had incredible access,” he told the Washington Post. “I sat in West Wing for hours on end and no one noticed....I go in and I sit there and people just start to talk.”

 

Appearing on late night TV with Trevor Noah on Jan. 22, he told viewers that Trump’s White House is populated with “the greatest bunch of knuckleheads I think that have ever been assembled in one place,” adding…. “The thing about talking to Donald Trump is that you never get to say anything to him.”

 

Wolff also predicted that actually what Trump will say sooner rather than later is that he is responsible for this book, its successful because of him, and he is the real writer of this book.”

 

As if a runaway best seller and a proposed TV series isn’t enough Wolff continued to produce good copy with his mid-January revelations in Vanity Fair that he is absolutely certain that president is having an affair. Wolff said he didn’t publish the allegation because he couldn’t provide proof: “I didn’t have the blue dress.”

 

The Huffington Post, Business Insider, Variety and countless other media outlets in the US and abroad have had a field day dishing out the juiciest snippets. Among the items causing the biggest buzz was the claim that Trump believed that he couldn’t win and that he promised his wife he wouldn’t win.

 

Along with Trump’s views on getting his friends' wives into bed, other much cited tidbits are Trump’s unrequited crush on Putin, the Russia investigation, the precarious state of the president’s mental health, and his belief that Nixon was framed for Watergate. His obsession with Rupert Murdoch and his predilection for locking his bedroom door and holing up to watch TV on three screens also came in for plenty of comment.

 

Among the things people around Trump told Wolff: Trump “never negotiates anything,” “He can’t even read a balance sheet. In his business career, he’s the guy going on television; other people are doing the negotiating. He’s not a businessman; he’s a television performer.”

 

Here’s an edited list of highlights cited by Newsweek:

 

* Trump didn’t want to win, and no one in his campaign thought he would win. “Well, it would only be a problem if we won,” former national security adviser Michael Flynn assured his friends about his decision to accept $45,000 for a speech in Russia.

 

* Trump’s daughter Ivanka described Trump’s hair as a perfectly engineered hairdo that takes many steps to complete. “She often described the mechanics behind it to friends: an absolutely clean pate—a contained island after scalp-reduction surgery—surrounded by a furry circle of hair around the sides and front, from which all ends are drawn up to meet in the center and then swept back and secured by a stiffening spray,” the book says.

 

* Trump wondered what a golden shower was after hearing reports of the intelligence dossier that alleges that Russian security forces have compromising details about the president.

 

* Trump eats at McDonald’s so often out of paranoia and because he is a germaphobe. "Long afraid of being poisoned, he would say that one reason why he liked to eat at McDonald's was because nobody knew he was coming and the food was safely prepared," the book says.

 

* Trump asked Hope Hicks, the White House communications director who had dated former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, why she was worried about Lewandowski's bad press after he got fired. "You've already done enough for him,” Trump apparently said. “You're the best piece of tail he'll ever have."

 

* As a candidate, Trump had no interest in learning about the Constitution, which he knew very little about. “I got as far as the Fourth Amendment, before his finger is pulling down on his lip and his eyes are rolling back in his head,” said Sam Nunberg, a former adviser to the Trump campaign.

 

* Trump didn't enjoy his own inauguration. "He was angry that A-level stars had snubbed the event, disgruntled with the accommodations at Blair House, and visibly fighting with his wife, who seemed on the verge of tears," the book claims.

 

* Trump never reads. “He didn’t process information in any conventional sense. He didn’t read. He didn’t really even skim. Some believed that for all practical purposes he was no more than semi-literate,” the book says.

 

Gossip sells and there’s more where that came from. This is a book that promises to stay hot for some time to come.

 

Some tell-alls have endured for centuries: think Lives of the Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. That text about the emperors of Rome was written during the reign of Hadrian and is still in print today. It’s a book that’s packed with history and also includes sexual preferences of rulers and such enduring pre-TMZ info as Julius Caesar - like Trump - used a comb-over to hide his baldness.

 

But that’s an exception, most tell-alls have a notably short shelf life. Who today remembers, much less is reading Primary Colors, the salacious peek inside the Clinton White House that caused such a stir back in the 90s?


Posted On: 2018-02-02 16:56
User Name: Bkwoman

Why is anyone surprised at the revelations in Fire and Fury? When you elect (he wasn't really elected by the way.) trailer trash for President of the most powerful country in the world, you get what you pay for. If any President before him had done one-tenth of the rotten he's done, he'd have been ousted by now. It just goes to show how powerful money to buy people can be. My motto is "Get Rid of the Electoral College. One vote for each person."


Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Albert Einstein A remarkable letter on God in English, one of his most eloquent and quoted, 1 p, July 2, 1945. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Benjamin Lincoln's commission as Major General in the Continental Army, February 19th, 1777. $60,000 to $90,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Broadside. A Poem Upon the Bloody Engagement That Was Fought on Bunker's-Hill. 1775. $15,000 to $25,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Early, full printing of the Star-Spangled Banner in The Yankee, October 7, 1814. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Paul Revere. Engraving, “The Boston Massacre Perpetrated on March 5, 1770," in <i>Massachusett's Calendar 1772.</i> $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Bonhams: Treasures from the Eric C. Caren Collection: How History Unfolds on Paper, Part VII (Online). March 6-14, 2019</b>
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Earliest known newspaper coverage of Babe Ruth, "a St Mary's schoolboy," Baltimore, April 4, 1914. $6,000 to $9,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Franklin, Benjamin. <i>The Independent Whig.</i> First Magazine Published in America, Philadelphia: Keimer, 1723-4. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Smith, Joseph. <i>The Book of Mormon.</i> Palmyra: Printed by E.B. Grandin for the Author, 1830. First printing. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Last Words of Joseph Smith. Autograph Letter Signed from a Mormon disciple, conveying a contemporary account of the Prophet's final words, Nauvoo, July 27, 1844. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> John Brown's Body. Autograph Letter Signed from the daughter of John Brown attempting to arrange the return of her father's body, North Elba, Essex Co, NY, November 29, 1859. $4,000 to $6,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 6-14:</b> Powell Expedition. Autograph diary of Rhodes C. Allen kept during the Powell Expedition of 1868, June 29, 1868 - November 16, 1868. $20,000 to $40,000
  • <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Walt Whitman. <i>Leaves of Grass.</i> First edition, first issue, SIGNED in block letters by Whitman. 1855. $200,000 to $300,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Isaac Newton's copy of John Greave's <i>Pyramidographia,</i> London, 1646. $50,000 to $70,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Colonel John Mosby. Robert E. Lee's autograph letter to Samuel Cooper reporting on Mosby's exploits, with Cooper's autograph note ordering his appointment to Major.
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Gyula Halasz Brassai. Large archive of autograph and typed letters, over 260, to his family including his wife Gilberte, 1947-1978. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 12:</b> Archive of drawings and letters from Harper Lee to Charles Carruth, including an inscribed first edition of <i>To Kill a Mockingbird.</i> $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> VESALIUS, ANDREAS. 1514-1564. <i>De humani corporis fabrica libri septem.</i> Basel: Johannes Oporinus, June 1543. $300,000 to $500,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> HARVEY, WILLIAM. 1578-1657. <i>De motu cordis & sanguinis in animalibus Anatomica Exercitatio.</i> Leiden: Joannis Maire, 1639. $25,000 to $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, Mar 11:</b> BERENGARIO DA CARPI, GIACOMO. 1460-1530. <i>Isagogae breves perlucide ac uberrimae in Anatomiam humani corporis.</i> Bologna: Benedictus Hectoris, 15 July 1523. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> FRANKLIN, BENJAMIN. 1706-1790. <i>Experiments and Observations on Electricity, made at Philadelphia in America…</i> London, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams NY, Mar 11:</b> BENIVIENI, ANTONIO. 1443-1502. <i>De abditis nonnullis ac mirandis morborum et sanationum causis.</i>Florence: Filippo Giunta, 1507. $8,000 to $12,000
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, <i>El Ingenioso Hildalgo Don Quixote de la Mancha . . . Nueva Edición,</i> first Ibarra edition, Madrid, 1780. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Prayer Book in Latin and French, France, 1530-40s. $20,000 to $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin, France, mid-15th century. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b><br><i>Die Ernsthaffte Christenpflicht,</i> earliest known edition of the first complete Mennonite prayer book, 1708. $300 to $500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Georg Agricola, <i>De ortu & causis subterraneorum Lib V.,</i> first edition, Basel, 1546. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Frederick Ruysch, <i>Icon durae matris in concava [convexa] superficie visae,</i> with 2 mezzotints by Jan Ladmiral, first edition, Amsterdam, 1737. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, <i>Eine Neue Art von Strahlen,</i> Würzburg, 1895. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pietro Carrera, <i>Il Gioco de gli Scacchi,</i> first edition, Militello, 1617. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> William Lithgow, <i>The Totall Discourse, of the Rare Adventures</i> [etc.], London, 1632. $2,000 to $3,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Michel de Nostradamus, <i>The True Prophecies or Prognostications,</i> first complete edition in English, London, 1672. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Pseudo-Methodius, <i>De revelatione facta . . . beato Methodio,</i> Basel, 1504. $2,500 to $3,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries, Mar 7:</b> Hrabanus Maurus, <i>De laudibus sancte crucis opus,</i> Pforzheim, 1503. $1,000 to $2,000.
  • <b>Chiswick Auctions: Autographs & Memorabilia. February 28, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Autograph album featuring signatures by prominent actors, politicians, musicians and authors, including Rudolph Valentino. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> An extremely rare working radio script for Crazy People No 29, the first series of <i>The Goon Show.</i> £600 to £800
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Manuscript prayer book, in German. 8vo, 1755 £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 28:</b> Italian Manuscript on Geometry, with diagrams, 18th century. £500 to £700
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Thorburn (Archibald). Sparrowhawk, original watercolour & gouache, signed & dated lower right, 1917. £1,500 to £2,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Burton (Sir Richard Francis). <i>Personal Narrative of a Pilgrimage to El-Medinah and Meccah.</i> 3 vol., FIRST EDITION, 1855-56. £1,000 to £1,500
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> [Mount (Richard) & Page (Thomas)]. <i>The English Pilot. Describing the Sea-Coasts…</i> 31 engraved maps, W. & J. Mount, T. Page, 1756 £4000 to £6000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions: Ornithology, Zoology & Voyages. February 27, 2019</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> D’apres De Mannevillette (Jean-Baptiste Nicolas Denis). <i>Le Neptune Oriental.</i> Paris & Brest, [1775 – 1781]. £10,000 to £15,000
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Loring (Josiah). Terrestrial Globe Containing all the Late Discoveries and Geographical Improvements. Boston, Gilman Joslin, 1846, £800 to £1,200
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Feb 27:</b> Shelley (G. E., Capt.). <i>A Monograph of the Nectariniidae, or Family of Sun-birds,</i> FIRST EDITION, by the Author, 1876-80. £4,000 to £6,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions