High Stakes

Putnam's Neil Nyren has preempted Stanley Alpert'sThe Birthday Party. It's a memoir of urban survival that recounts a federal prosecutor being kidnapped off the streets of Manhattan on the eve of his 38th birthday, the psychological duel with his captors that eventually sets him free and the investigation that leads to their arrests. The book makes use of police reports, court records and interviews with NYPD detectives, FBI agents and witnesses. Nyren acquired world rights from agent Ronald Goldfarb, and Putnam plans an early 2007 publication.

Harmony's John Glusman has acquired North American rights to Agent Zigzag by London Times writer Ben Macintyre. Based on recently declassified documents from MI5's archives, the book tells the story of Eddie Chapman (code-named "Zigzag"), one of WWII's most notorious spies and a career criminal recruited by the German Secret Service. He operated successfully as a double agent for England, at one point even hatching a plot to assassinate Hitler. Macintyre is the author of several books, all of which were published by Glusman at FSG. Agent Ed Victor brokered the deal.

A useful resource in both cases above might have been a new book by journalist Amanda Ripley titled Danger: Surviving the Unthinkable, which Crown's Rick Horgan preempted, on the eve of what was to be an auction involving seven houses. Ripley will zoom in on epic calamities around the world. Zachary Shuster Harmsworth's Esmond Harmsworth sold world rights, and Crown will publish in 2008.

Douglass and Lincoln

Warner Twelve publisher Jonathan Karp has acquired world rights to a biography examining the intersecting stories of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, to be written by Harvard professor John Stauffer, who will focus on the ways in which these two men reinvented themselves throughout their lives. Stauffer is the author of The Black Hearts of Men (Harvard Univ. Press), which was a co-winner of the 2002 Frederick Douglass Book Prize, as well as the editor of the Modern Library edition of Douglass's My Bondageand My Freedom; he has written extensively on aspects of cross-racial friendship. Karp acquired rights directly from the author and plans to publish Douglass and Lincoln: The Lives of Self-Made Men in fall 2008.

Inside Cheerleading

Touchstone's Amanda Patten acquired North American rights, at auction, to Jane magazine editor Kate Torgovnick's Making the Castle: A Year in the Extreme World of Competitive College Cheerleading. This is a behind-the-scenes look at this burgeoning sport, from spring tryouts and televised NCAA nationals to debilitating injuries and steroid use. Laurie Abkemeier at DeFiore and Co. brokered the deal, and Touchstone plans to publish in January 2008 to coincide with the United Cheerleading Association championship.

The Briefing

Ecco's Dan Halpern acquired North American rights, at auction, to The Fairway Market Cookbook by Fairway senior manager and Cheese Primer author Steve Jenkins; it will include recipes from the famed New York grocery's consulting chef Mitchel London; agent Jane Dystel made the six-figure sale.... Pulitzer Prize—winning presidential biographer James MacGregor Burns has signed with Lara Heimert at Basic to write a new book on the rise of the imperial presidency, titled Running Alone: Presidential Leadership from JFK to Bush II: Why It Has Failed—and How We Can Fix It. Ike Williams at Kneerim & Williams sold North American rights, and Basic will publish this September.... Norton's Morgen Van Vorst acquired North American rights to St. John's University professor Dohra Ahmad's Rotten English, an anthology of vernacular literature that includes Robert Burns, Zora Neale Hurston and Peter Carey; Inkwell's Michael Carlisle brokered the deal.