With all the press being generated by the controversy surrounding a late addition to the Dutton list, an eyewitness account of the killing of Osama Bin Laden, No Easy Day, by pseudonymous Navy SEAL Mark Owen and Kevin Maurer, the publisher moved the pub date up a month to September 11 and the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Despite the media spotlight on Owen’s memoir, which has held the number one slot in books at Amazon for several days, Atlantic Monthly Press is holding firm to its October 16 on-sale date for its own account of the al Qaeda leader’s death, Mark Bowden’s The Finish, which is shaping up to be one of the fall’s big books.
Atlantic Monthly Press head Morgan Entrekin told PW that he sees the two books as complementary. “We’re going to get helped by [No Easy Day],” he said.“He wasn’t involved in the tactical decisions; he was the sharp part of the spear. He’s going to tell the story of one Navy SEAL, Mark will be able to put this in a bigger context. Obviously I’m an optimistic publisher. Mark’s been covering the special forces for 15 years. He’s probably the pre-eminent reporter on special forces.”
Atlantic Monthly’s pub date hinges on an agreement with “a major media outlet,” which Entrekin declined to name, to break the news in the book. (Reviewers have to sign a nondisclosure statement.) Entrekin believes that the October pub date won’t be a sales impediment. No Easy Day will whet readers’ appetite for more information, as will the approaching presidential election. “This [operation] is the most pivotal thing in Obama’s first term,” he says. Atlantic Monthly is planning a significant first printing of 125,000 copies. It’s also sending Bowden on a 14-city tour that begins at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square on October 25 and ends at the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago on December 12, with stops along the way at bookstores from coast to coast, including the one at West Point.
Entrekin wasn’t originally planning for fall publication for The Finish. He gave Bowden as much time as he needed to write the book, which grew out of a suggestion from Jerry Bruckheimer, who produced the film based on Bowden’s bestselling Black Hawk Down. Bowden called in the spring to say that the book would be ready for the next season. In the intervening months Bruckheimer has decided not to make a movie about the 2011 killing of Osama Bin Laden.
While Bowden’s book still has a hefty climb at Amazon (it’s hovering around 160,000), sadly Owen has rocketed to the top of a very different list. According to a Reuters report, his real name and photograph appear on an al Qaeda Web hit list.