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John F. Baker -- 2/14/00

Yeltsin 'Diaries' for PublicAffairs
Boris Yeltsin
, who stepped down as Russia's president at the end of last year, is doing a memoir, in the form of excerpts from his diaries and conversations with his longtime confidant Valentin Yumashev, for PublicAffairs publisher Peter Osnos. The deal was consummated, with a handshake at Yeltsin's dacha outside Moscow, by the former Russian leader, journalist Yumashev, and London-based agent Andrew Nurnberg during a visit Osnos paid early in the new year. "He clasped our hands and said: 'It's a deal!' in English," said Osnos, who learned to speak Russian when he was a Washington Post correspondent in the Soviet Union. Nurnberg said he chose PublicAffairs because it could move swiftly to get the book out while there was still strong interest in Yeltsin and his regime; Osnos plans to publish as early as October. The publisher said Yeltsin, whose book is tentatively called Midnight Diaries, will discuss a wide range of subjects, including Russia's difficult struggle toward democracy, his persistent health problems and even accusations of corruption against members of his regime. Osnos bought only North American and open market rights, and Nurnberg is selling the book elsewhere in the world.

'Bounty' Book by 'Endurance' Author
Caroline Alexander
, whose book on Ernest Shackleton's immortal Antarctic voyage in the Endurance was a bestseller last year, has signed with Viking senior editor Wendy Wolf for two new books, the first of which will be a new look at the celebrated mutiny aboard HMS Bounty in the South Seas. Her book, tentatively called Justice for the Bounty Mutineers, brings the perspective of the crew, as revealed in the later court-martial proceedings in London, to bear on the story of their dealings with Captain Bligh (Charles Laughton in the famous movie). The deal, in which Wolf bought North American, audio and first serial rights, was made with Alexander's agent, London-based Anthony Sheil. The book is tentatively due for publication in fall 2002; a date and theme for the second have not been set.

Berg to Bestler with Three
Novelist Elizabeth Berg, who has built a solid readership at several different publishers, is moving to Pocket Books on a three-book deal signed by executive editorial director Emily Bestler with agent Lisa Bankoff at ICM. The first of the three, to be called The Courtship of Falcons, is due in the summer of next year, and the deal was for world rights, with first serial, too. In other recent multiple-book deals, Bestler also signed French author Christian Jacq for a two-book series about ancient Egypt, called The Stone of Light. This was bought direct from the French publisher, XO Editions, and the first volume, Nefer the Silent, is due in April. The first in a three-book series of legal thrillers by Robert K. Tannenbaum, called True Justice, is due in August. The agent is Bob DiForio.

Chronicle Sells Beatles to Britain
In an unusual transatlantic deal, San Francisco's Chronicle Books, which bought world rights in a collection called The Beatles Anthology from a British limited editions publisher, Genesis Publications, at Frankfurt last fall, has sold U.K. rights to John Mitchinson at Cassell for what is described as "a significant six-figure sum." The book, told in the voices of all four Beatles, and illustrated by nearly 1,300 pictures, many never seen before, was authorized by the surviving members of the group and the Lennon estate, and was initiated by their company, Apple Corps Ltd. It was six years in the making, and the American edition, which Chronicle aims to publish October 5, will retail for $60. The sale was made by Chronicle's rights director, Sarah Williams, who is still fielding offers from other countries; publicity director Sarah McFall Bailey is selling first serial later this month. When Chronicle's Christine Carswell originally bought the rights, she said: "What makes this book unique is that it's the Beatles by the Beatles."

Short Takes
A book about Cajun fishermen in Louisiana, BackCountry Bayou, has just been bought by Dan Frank at Pantheon from agent Jennifer Lyons at Writer's House for a price just below six figures (North American). The author is Washington Post travel writer Mike Tidwell, who has made several journeys with the fishermen already and plans, says Frank, another stay down there soon. "No one has written about them since A.J. Liebling," says Frank.... Richard Bruce Nugent (1906-1987) was a significant figure in the Harlem Renaissance, an author and painter who was perhaps the first African-American to write as an openly gay man. His companion, Tom Wirth, has put together an anthology of his writings and art called Richard Bruce Nugent: Gay Rebel of the Harlem Renaissance, with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates Jr., which agent Wanda Akin of the Akin & Randolph Agency sold to Duke University Press; the buyer there was Richard Morrison, who has since moved on.
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