Former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger is trying his hand at a political thriller, to be written with Peter Schweizer, a previous collaborator on nonfiction books. Pocket Books' George Lucas has signed it up for six figures for world English rights from Richard Abate at ICM, and plans to publish late next year or early in 2003. It's about a presidential assassination at Camp David... That huge $4-million, two-book deal for Yale professor and first novelist Stephen L. Carter paid out by Robin Desser at Knopf, which looked at first as if it was an internal bid against Random's Kate Medina, was in fact within the group's guidelines for such things, we're assured; an outside third bidder dropped out at that point, and it was left to agent Lynn Nesbit and Carter to choose between equal bids from the Random imprints. They picked Knopf because the author had been encouraged early in his work on the huge first novel, The Emperor of Ocean Park, by Sonny Mehta .... Dan Smetanka at Ballantine paid a "significant" six figures to preempt world rights on a proposal by Columbia-trained historian Daniel Myerson called The Linguist and the Emperor. It's the story of Jean-François Champollion, the French scholar in the entourage of Napoleon who unlocked the secret of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics from the Rosetta Stone. The agent was Noah Lukeman, making his first sale since his recent move to AMG/Renaissance.... S&S publisher David Rosenthal closed for a book on Larry Ellison, founder and CEO of Oracle Corp., the software giant that believes in one-stop software shopping and is going up against such systems integration behemoths as IBM and Andersen. Former Economist writer Matthew Symonds will spend a year watching Ellison in action in the battle, and the book, tentatively called Softwar, will appear in fall of next year. The agent was Andrew Wylie ....Former U.S. ambassador to the U.N. and noted author and coauthor Richard Holbrooke is doing a book on diplomacy for Random House that will be part memoir and part study of some crucial episodes in postwar American diplomacy. Trade publisher Ann Godoff signed him via Mort Janklow at Janklow & Nesbit.