Massive Book Tour for Nixon Biography Unlikely, says Conrad Black

By: Conrad Black's biography of ex-U.S. president Richard Nixon is set to be released in the United States in October, but the former media baron, who is awaiting sentencing after being found guilty of fraud, says a massive book tour is out of the question.

The nearly 1,200-page U.S. edition is titled Richard M. Nixon: A Life in Full. The book was released in Canada earlier this year under the title The Invincible Quest: The Life of Richard Milhous Nixon.

Black, who's free on $21-million US bond and will be sentenced on Nov. 30, said his July conviction of mail fraud and obstruction of justice in a multimillion-dollar fleecing of Hollinger International will complicate his book promotion.

The Montreal-born executive is barred from straying beyond the Chicago area or south Florida, where he and wife Barbara Amiel Black own an estate.

"As it is now, my geographic limitations are not conducive to a massive book tour," the 62-year-old told weekend editions of the Chicago Tribune.

Black begged off comparisons to the much-maligned, widely disgraced former president.
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"It's hard not to acknowledge his sleazy side, which I do not have," Black said. "Nixon was in many ways, a morose and very solitary figure, and I'm not."

His U.S. publisher hopes Black's legal trouble won't affect how the book is received by readers.

"We're making a calculated guess that we can get past this issue and get people to appreciate the book on its own merits," said Peter Osnos, the founder of PublicAffairs Books. "Whether we succeed or not, it will remain that he has written an extremely fine book."

This isn't Black's first book on a former U.S. president.

He released a critically acclaimed biography of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2003, which went on to sell more than 40,000 copies in the U.S. and Canada.

In writing about Nixon, Black had the advantage of knowing his subject personally. The avid historian met Nixon on many occasions, and would take notes about their conversations.

Nixon, according to Black, was aware he intended to write a biography.

"I chose [to write about] Nixon because it was time to re-integrate him into American history and stop pretending that he was a freak with cloven feet and horns who just happened to be elected to national office four times," Black said in a recent e-mail.

Black said he wrote about 3,000 words a day starting in April 2006, and finished his first draft in November despite having to grapple with his legal defence.

"You don't have much to do when you're being persecuted by prosecutors," he said. "Brooding is a fundamentally unproductive activity. It was a strong temptation, but I rose above it and took on the project."

Black was convicted recently during a trial in Chicago of paying himself millions of dollars in corporate money and disguising the money as stemming from payments made in conjunction with the sale of Hollinger assets. He plans to appeal.

The jury acquitted him of nine other charges ranging from racketeering to tax fraud. Three co-defendants were also convicted of mail fraud.

Federal prosecutors have said in a written motion presented to the court that they calculate the potential sentence Black faces as 24 to 30 years in federal prison.

Hollinger International, based in Chicago and renamed Sun-Times Media Group Inc., was once one of the world's largest publishers of community newspapers. At its peak, its holdings included a chain of big-city Canadian dailies, the National Post, the London Telegraph and the Jerusalem Post, as well as the Sun-Times and hundreds of smaller publications.


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