Thomas Nelson is recalling all copies of David Barton’s The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You’ve Always Believed About Thomas Jefferson, released in April with a foreword by Glenn Beck, after a number of factual inaccuracies and historical misinterpretations were brought to its attention. In a statement, Nelson said, “[We were] contacted by a number of people expressing concerns about The Jefferson Lies. We took all of those concerns seriously, tried to sort out matters of opinion or interpretation, and in the course of our review learned that there were some historical details included in the book that were not adequately supported.” In the wake of these accusations, Nelson has recalled copies of the book in retail stores, asked online retailers to stop selling it, and suspended printing and distribution. Jefferson Lies has sold 20,000 copies at outlets tracked by Nielsen BookScan. Nelson declined to provide in-print figures.
“Although we do carefully edit every book we publish, Thomas Nelson relies on the expertise of our authors concerning their subjects,” a company spokesperson told PW yesterday. “It is extremely rare that the company would have to withdraw a book from the market based on concerns about its content.”
Chief among Barton’s critics have been Warren Throckmorton and Michael Coulter, professors at conservative Grove City College and the authors of Getting Jefferson Right: Fact Checking Claims About Our Third President (Salem Grove Press, May). Throckmorton and Coulter refute Barton’s claims that Jefferson was not only sympathetic to Christianity, but himself an orthodox evangelical, a view espoused by those who want to “reclaim” Jefferson and support their arguments that America was founded as a Christian nation. Barton has been a frequent guest on Glenn Beck’s show and also received media attention for The Jefferson Lies in The New York Times (in a 2011 profile and recently on the hardcover nonfiction bestsellers list) and with multiple appearances on The Daily Show.
Asked about the ramifications of the recall, Nelson’s spokesperson said,“All legal and contractual agreements are confidential and we have no further comment on that.” Nelson confirmed it has severed its publishing relationship with Barton and reverted the rights to The Jefferson Lies to him. “Thomas Nelson does not expect to publish his works in the future,” the company spokesperson said.