Behind the Scenes

Putnam's Neil Nyren won an auction for Hidden America, a new book by Jeanne Marie Laskas, via agent Andrew Blauner. Laskas, a GQ correspondent and nationally syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Magazine, will write about the unseen world of the people who make everything work, from coal miners to long-haul truckers, beef farmers, freight train engineers, landfill operators and air traffic controllers. Putnam holds world rights.

Smuggling Flowers

Marjorie Braman at Harper has preempted North American rights to Craig Welch's Shell Games via agent Wendy Strothman. This book will reveal the world of environmental poaching, following an informant-turned-rogue smuggler in the little-known black market for flora and fauna, a market that ranks just behind illicit drugs in profitability. Welch is a Seattle Times reporter and 2006—2007 Nieman Fellow; tentative pub date is fall 2009.

Summers to FSG

Former Harvard president Lawrence Summers has signed a two-book deal with Eric Chinski at Farrar, Straus & Giroux via Andrew Wylie, who sold North American rights. The first book is on universities and is scheduled for a 2009 pub, and the second book, on the new global economy, will follow. Before joining Harvard, where he is now the Charles Eliot University Professor, Summers served as chief economist of the World Bank as well as the secretary of the treasury during the Clinton administration.

Toxic Farming

Evidence of Harm author David Kirby has sold a new book, Animal Wars, to George Witte at SMP via agent Todd Shuster, who sold world rights. Kirby will examine the toxic impact of large-scale factory farming, looking at how the waste produced by pigs, poultry, cattle and other livestock is creating a potentially massive public health crisis, while pitting powerful companies against rural communities.

Fantasy Deals

Former Zoetrope editor Chris McCoy has sold a debut middle-grade fantasy novel, Scurvy Goonda, to Cecile Goyette at Knopf in a two-book deal via agent David Kuhn. The book centers on a 15-year-old on Cape Cod whose attempt to finally get rid of his childhood imaginary friend through prescription medication results in all of the imaginary friends of all the kids across the world disappearing at once. McCoy, 26, has also contributed to McSweeney's; Knopf has world rights.

Jean Feiwel has bought North American rights to a new book by Ellen Potter, creator of the Pish Posh and Olivia Kidney series, for her Feiwel & Friends imprint via Alice Tasman at Jean Naggar. Title and content are under wraps; the third book in the Kidney series, Olivia Kidney and the Secret Beneath the City will be published this June.

War of Words

Victoria Wilson at Pantheon has bought North American rights to Robert Patton's new book, Lurid Splendor: American Journalists and the "Little Wars" in Europe Between 1867 and 1887 via agent Harvey Klinger. Patton, a grandson of Gen. George Patton, will recount the forgotten bloody battles fought in Europe while America was still in its Reconstruction period, while highlighting the reporters, from the original Forbes (a Scottish journalist) to Florence Nightingale, who covered these wars.


Broadway's Charles Conrad has acquired world rights to Neil Bennun's Bad Magic via Stephanie Cabot at the Gernert Company. This will be an investigative nonfiction account of the history and uses of "assault sorcery," or the dark arts of long-distance murder, hexing, cursing and cheating in cultures worldwide, from the Stone Age to today. Bennun is the author of The Broken String, shortlisted for the John Rhys Llewellyn Prize in 2005.