Random's Ann Godoff has signed Washington Post managing editor Steve Coll to a book about the vexed history of U.S. relations with Afghanistan, including the covert struggle against the Soviet Union there and the abandonment of the country after the Russian pullout, up to the present embroilment with the ruling Taliban. She bought world rights in the untitled book from agent Melanie Jackson and will publish in 2003 after Coll, who has won a Pulitzer for his reporting, returns to the region for further research.... Scribner senior editor Gillian Blake just bought a first novel by a 23-year-old Columbia grad now interning at Harper's magazine; he's Will Heinrich, his book is a literary novel called The King's Evil, and the North American rights buy was from Bill Clegg at Burnes & Clegg.... A book about the family-owned construction company that built the World Trade Center by a scion of the family was bought at auction by executive editor Kristin Kiser at Crown. It's called Men of Steel by Karl Koch III writing with award-winning journalist Richard Firstman, and tells of the problems Koch Erecting Company overcame in building what were then the world's tallest towers; the North American rights buy was from agent Faith Hamlin at Sanford Greenburger.... Long before her present PB contract runs out, the house has signed up for four more books contemporary this time from western historical romance author Joan Johnston; editorial director Maggie Crawford signed the North American rights deal, which also promotes the author to hardcover by PB Press, with agent Robert Gottlieb at Trident Media Group.... Spelling Television has optioned the At Large series of comic mysteries about oversize amateur detective Jo Fuller, written by Lynne Murray for St. Martin's Press, for screenwriter Shawn Schepps to adapt as a TV series; the sale was made by Bill Contardi at William Morris on behalf of Murray's agent, Michelle Rubin at Writers House.