March 10, 1998
369 Lexington Avenue
New York, NY 10017
I have been struggling to resolve a dilemma, admittedly one mostly of my own making. Before I address that dilemma, let me first respond to the written comments on my book:
I too believe that, on the whole, Croatia has been one-sidedly represented in the Western media. That is one reason why a fair and accurate portrait of Franjo Tudjman is needed. I also believe, however, that if I were to incorporate the changes suggested by you it would only do more damage to the reputation of Tudjman and Croatia for the simple reason that such changes would render the book just another propaganda mortar in the already overcrowded Balkan propaganda wars.
I sincerely believed our mutual task was to put to rest the myths and lies about Tudjman, but not to skirt any controversy either. Contrary to the letter from "Eddie Bell", controversy only enhances the commercial viability of books.
Specifically, many of the issues mentioned in the letter and within the notes in the manuscript are off-base. First, nowhere in my book do I say that Tudjman became a fascist supporter. He was, as I detailed, supported by many hard-line émigrés, some of whom had fascist leanings. Second, Tudjman has always used the 1939 Croatian map as his ideal. This is irrefutable. As I wrote, his designs on Western Herzegovina were not only for security purposes to protect Dalmatia and prevent Croatia from being cut in half during the war, but also to create an ethnically-pure statelet depended on Zagreb. This also is irrefutable.
Finally, I do not believe the book paints Tudjman as a dictator. As we both know, he is a military general whose style befits a bygone era, and whose autocratic tendencies have caused great trouble for Croatia in the eyes of the West.
Nevertheless, I still believe that to totally expunge these elements from the book would do both Tudjman and Croatia a huge disservice; it would neuter the arguments and leave the book conpletely devoid of credibility. Wouldn't you rather have the Western media say, "Maybe we were wrong about this country: look how forthcoming it is about its own president."?
As you recall from our very first discussions and as written in my contract, I retain the creative control of the book. That does not mean I am unwilling to listen to comments. I welcome the opportunity to discuss the book with any representative from the publisher.
Now to my dilemma: Another reason I am reluctant to make the suggested changes in the book is the damage it would do to my own name and professional reputation. If I am seen as just a mouthpiece of the Croatian government, my future writing career would be severely limited indeed. I also realize, however, that I would not able to make these changes and then release the book under a pseudonym, primarily because every person I interviewed for this book is aware that I am writing it; hence the pseudonym would be a transparent veil. I am particularly concerned about the effect such a book would have on the very important people I interviewed who have placed their confidence in me: Richard Holbrooke, for example. I could also be faced with significant legal ramifications: misrepresentation is just one of them.
So, we are now faced with a limited number of options; but these options are still viable, and with your help and suggestions, they could resolve our mutual dilemma.
One: Since you owe me a final payment of $_______ on my contract, you could withhold that payment, in effect breaking the contract, which would allow me to publish the manuscript on my own. I would also consider repaying you the initial $______ if and when I succeed in placing its publication elsewhere, and if and when I receive said monies from its publication.
Two: You could use the book's structure as a base to write your own biography of the President, providing you do not use any of my interviews, or copy my use of language in the book. This would not preclude you from conducting your own interviews, of course. As a payment for keeping my book off the market, you would then pay me the $______ you still owe, plus another $_______: this would represent the anticipated lost earnings from my book's exploitation in all media and markets.
I'm sure there are other options, if we both are willing to put our heads together and attempt to work this out. I am most concerned that you understand my position, and realize that I am honestly trying to find a workable solution.
enc: Croatian translation of this letter