May 17, 2016

Out-of-print Trump bio will remain out-of-print due to fear of financial repercussions

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A really good book cover

In 1993, W.W. Norton published a book entitled Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, an unauthorized, tell-all biography of Donald Trump by journalist Harry Hurt III. Now, correct us if we’re wrong, but given The Donald’s ascendancy to ever-greater fame, and now potentially the most powerful position in the free world, this seems like just the time to warn the public—right?

Wrong!

In a decision described by the book’s author as “really chickens sh-t,” Norton has decided against reprinting the biography for fear of legal repercussions. According to Page Six’s Richard Johnson, a Norton executive reached out to Hurt and informed him, “The lawyers think it would be a very dangerous book for us to publish as is, and it would take legal readings, corrections, resetting, proofing and so forth. And so they don’t want to go ahead.”

Sadly, this fear of litigation is warranted, as the very real threat of lawsuits works its chilling effect on everyone on the Trump beat (just look at his recent lashing out against Jeff Bezos). Trump has sued a lot of people, from his ex-wife Ivana Trump to Rosie O’Donnell. This is not to mention the author and publisher of another book about him: in 2005, Tim O’Brien, author of TrumpNation: The Art of Being the Donald, and his publisher Warner Books were sued by Trump for $5 million after O’Brien reported that the touchy mogul may not be worth as much as he claims.

And while Lost Tycoon does feature some discussion of Trump’s finances, it’s far more notable for being the book that revealed the rape allegations against the presumptive presidential nominee that came out in a deposition of Ivana as part of their divorce proceedings. The Daily Beast offers a summary of the horrific accusations Hurt first reported. This makes a note from Ivana on the flyleaf of the book especially troubling. It reads:

I stated that my husband had raped me… As a woman, I felt violated, as the love and tenderness, which he normally exhibited toward me, was absent. I referred to this as a ‘rape,’ but I do not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.

Was the flyleaf added as an afterthought—or a preventative measure? With the book out of print, it’s hard to say.

So Lost Tycoon could be important, then. Nonetheless, Norton is sticking with their decision; they’ve even returned the book’s rights to the author. But Hurt isn’t worried: “My book has held up for a very long time,” he told Page Six. “I’m getting calls from major media outlets from all over the world … A New York Times reporter recently told me that my book’s become ‘the Rosetta Stone for in-depth Trump articles.’ The American public needs to know the truth about The Donald’s life history before they cast their ballots.”

 

 

Chad Felix is the Director of Library and Academic Marketing at Melville House, and a former bookseller.

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