Saturday, December 13, 2008


I'm editing a new book by one of America's top intellectuals.

He has, among other things, founded a think tank; been a professor at Columbia, George Washington, and Harvard; served as a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a White House advisor; and published more than 20 books.

The book deals with many of the current geopolitical and sociopolitical issues faced by the United States, Europe, and the Middle East. While some of the material is new and was written for the book, the author to a large extent drew on his past writings.

As a result, the book is woefully out of date with regard to Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the global financial crisis, and the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign and election.

In addition, the rampant inconsistencies in style, and the structure of endnotes and references, suggests that the book was cobbled together by perhaps a grad student.

The author will not be pleased by the number of queries he will face when he receives the edited manuscript.

But when an author recycles past work and tries to rest on his laurels, the editor stands between him and the reading public who expect a book that reflects the author's expertise.