The Cutline

After Palin cover, Robert Draper turns to Congress

The Cutline

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Sarah Palin in New York Times Magazine


Journalist Robert Draper woke up the morning after Republicans took control of the House of Representatives and knew what subject he wanted to tackle next.

Draper told The Cutline by email Monday that he "realized that the story of this new House was one I was dying to read, and it took about one minute before deciding that it would be a kick to write." A week later, he sold the book idea to Simon & Schuster imprint Free Press.

It's been a busy few days for Draper. His cover story on Sarah Palin's inner circle — the most comprehensive piece yet on the topic — ran in the New York Times Magazine over the weekend.

Palin, who rarely speaks to anyone but Fox News and conservative radio hosts — along with her Twitter followers and Facebook friends — actually gave an hour-long interview to Draper. He hasn't heard yet from Palin since publication but said that "several of her top advisers have told me they thought the piece was fair."

On Sunday, Draper discussed the Palin story on "Meet the Press." By Monday, he was back in the news for another reason, with Politico's Mike Allen getting the scoop on his forthcoming book on the Congress.

The Free Press release noted that "Draper will document the struggles facing the governing body — negotiations between the moderate and conservative Republican factions that war within the party, the Democrats' efforts to move forward on their agenda despite the loss of power, and the search for common ground between the establishment Republicans and the freshly minted, fiercely independent Tea Partiers."

There's been no shortage of insider books on political campaigns and the presidency, such as Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's "Game Change" and  Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars." But political writers haven't similarly churned out  flies-on-the-wall accounts of what's happening in the halls of Congress.

"I don't know of any book on the House that has presented the inner workings of the Lower Body in narrative form," Draper said. "I'd been contemplating such an endeavor right after I turned in the Bush book [2007's "Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush"], but the time didn't seem right. It certainly does now."

As Draper plunges into the Congress book, he's putting another project — his 40-year history of race in America — on hold. That book, originally slated to be published in 2012, is now expected two years later.

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