News Article

Making 'History'

Hillary Clinton's book sets a record. In the last decade, only the fourth ''Harry Potter'' has sold more books its first week on shelves

Hillary Rodham Clinton, Living History | 'HISTORY' BOOKS Clinton meets with readers in a White Plains, N.Y., bookstore
Image credit: Hillary Clinton: Nancy Kaszerman/ZUMA Press/NewsCom
'HISTORY' BOOKS Clinton meets with readers in a White Plains, N.Y., bookstore

Instead of Hogwarts and evil wizards, she writes of Yale Law School and vast right-wing conspiracies, but otherwise, Hillary Rodham Clinton has a lot in common with J.K. Rowling. According to USA Today, the former first lady's new memoir, ''Living History,'' is the fastest-selling nonfiction book since the newspaper started tracking best-sellers a decade ago, with publisher Simon & Schuster estimating sales of 600,000 copies since it was published last Monday. Only Rowling's ''Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'' has sold faster during its first week in stores (3 million copies), though Rowling's ''Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,'' out this Saturday, may well surpass both books.

''We certainly knew that this would be the biggest adult book of the year, and it could be one of the biggest of all time,'' S&S exec David Rosenthal tells USA Today. The Wall Street Journal estimates that the publisher has already earned back the $8 million it contracted to pay the New York senator. After an initial printing of 1 million copies, the book is already in a second printing of an additional 600,000 copies.

The book's sales have been strong despite the widespread repetition of its juiciest revelations, in advance excerpts in magazines, reviews in newspapers, and Sen. Clinton's high-profile TV appearances promoting the book. Already famous -- or maybe notorious -- are such passages as this one, describing what she says was her belated discovery that her husband really did cheat on her with Monica Lewinsky: ''As his wife, I wanted to wring Bill's neck. But he was also my President, and I thought that, in spite of everything, Bill led America and the world in a way that I continued to support.'' Or this one, regarding the couple's early courtship: ''One of the first things I noticed about Bill was the shape of his hands. His wrists are narrow and his fingers tapered and deft, like those of a pianist or a surgeon.'' The former president accompanied his wife to a book party in New York Monday night, where he joked to the crowd, ''People keep asking to see my hands.''

Mrs. Clinton's success has even spilled over to David Letterman, to whom she handed a rare victory over Jay Leno with her appearance on CBS' ''Late Show'' on Monday. According to Nielsen, the show scored its highest numbers since Letterman returned from his monthlong sick leave in March. The host asked her, ''Does it bother you that people like me still make fun of your husband?'' She answered, ''Well, one of the reasons I came on your show is I didn't know you did that.'' Letterman replied, ''Oh, so you're not watching the show.''

Originally posted Jun 18, 2003
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