Presidential Reading

by John J. Miller on December 7, 2009

in Explore the Vault

  • Sumo

Last week, I blogged on the West Point cadets who were seen reading several books as they waited for President Obama’s speech. Talk about great P.R. for the books! They probably sold thousands of additional copies, just for having been spotted in this setting. (Provocative titles such as Kill Bin Laden didn’t hurt, either.)

It reminded me of the story about how Stephen Coonts, the bestselling author, made his first commercial splash. I described it for the Wall Street Journal a few years ago:

Even more important was then-Navy Secretary John Lehman. He didn’t know Mr. Coonts, but he enjoyed a prerelease copy of the book so much that he sent it to his boss, telling him that if he liked “The Hunt for Red October,” then he would love “Flight of the Intruder.”

Ronald Reagan left this copy on his desk, beside a jar of jellybeans, on the day a photographer for Fortune visited the Oval Office. When the picture appeared in the magazine, publicists at the U.S. Naval Institute made sure that everybody knew what was on the president’s reading list.


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