Now: why do I enjoy the story so much? Because, about three or four or five months ago, there was a long story about Rupert Murdoch in The New Yorker by Ken Auletta, and Rupert tells this story entirely differently: he had the idea for the Gorbachev book! So you see, history corrects itself.

KM (laughing): The first time as tragedy; the second time, as farce?

MICHAEL BESSIE: And either time, it’s profitable! (General laughter.)


MICHAEL BESSIE: That book was an immense success, it made a lot of money. It made millions. We had enormous foreign rights -- it was an immensely successful book. It was more than a book, it was an event.

CORNELIA BESSIE: Is this the moment for comic relief?


CORNELIA BESSIE: He [indicating MB] is still in London--

MICHAEL BESSIE: Collins [respected British publishing house bought by Murdoch and merged with Harper & Row] had the printing plant in Scotland--

CORNELIA BESSIE: What Gorbachev wanted: he didn’t argue about money; the one thing that he really wanted was to have it published on the 70th anniversary of the Revolution.

MICHAEL BESSIE: So it had to be published on November 1.

CORNELIA BESSIE: And this was September, October--

MICHAEL BESSIE: And I said it couldn’t be done. And he said, “Well, it has to be.” So we called London, and Ian Chapman said, “Of course it can be done, in our plant here.”

CORNELIA BESSIE: Actually, that was fudged; but that’s another story. Officially, we published on the day we had promised.

So: he is still in London. I’m in New York. They’ve had these excited calls from London, so they’re now, more or less, paying a little bit of attention. There’s a meeting.


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