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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Session:         Page of 1029

Q:

Did you discuss this with him?

Cerf:

Yes, when he came back from Japan from the War. But then later on when he was quite well known, the story went around that he was not quite happy with his publishers, Morrow. I had lunch with him to talk possibilities one day and we got along very well. I liked Teddy White, and I'm crazy about his wife, Nancy (I like girls). Then the two boys who ran Morrow, Lawrence and Hughes, called me up. They had heard that White was talking to lots of publishers, and asked me to have lunch with them. I liked them. I came back to the office and said to Don, “Listen, we've gotten big enough. We don't have to go around trying to steal authors from small publishing houses. There's something degrading about that, anyway. They've done darned well by Teddy White; and if he wants to go, he should go to somebody else.” So we dropped out.

Well, when he went to Atheneum, I was a little annoyed because I figured, “He obviously was going to change, anyway. I should have pushed him harder.” Of course the book was The Making of a President. Well, those are the things that happen in publishing. Sometimes it's common courtesy. Other times it's bad judgment. In this case it was a combination of both. If I had known that he was going to leave anyway, I suppose that I would have been in there pitching with everything that I had. But that lunch was an expensive one for me. I don't know if Lawrence or Hughes ever knew that it was because of our one lunch that I just dropped out of the Teddy White competition!



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