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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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people to get the facts, and a book publisher is one of the few people left who can give both sides of the question. A newspaper or a television station is naturally influenced by the policy of the ownership, but at Random House we will do a good book on any side. But I'm kidding myself if I think that we're accomplishing very much in shaping public opinion because I have discovered, rather to my sorrow, that ninety per cent of the people who read a book are people who already believe what the author says. They are reading this book to buttress their own opinion and reinforce their own convictions. They say, “See, I was right.” I can't get the people who are against Vietnam to read a proVietnam book any more than I can get the hawks to read a book by Senator Fulbright against Vietnam. In other words, we're not convincing people, I'm afraid, with books because the people who are buying them are people who already agree fully with the author's point of view.

Consider The Arrogance of Power by Fulbright, which we published recently. It has been a huge success in paperback, not so much in hardback. But, in paperback, it's sold over 200,000 copies, which is enormous for that kind of a book. Who's reading it? College kids who hate the whole business of Vietnam and agree with Fulbright, and incidentally with me, that the whole Vietnam war is a disgrace and that it's corrupting this entire country. I think that the Vietnam war is inexcusable.

I had a chaplain of the Marine Corps come in one day,

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