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Canada

‘Are people that dumb?’: Canadian professor’s decade-old military history, ‘Fire and Fury’, is an unexpected bestseller

‘He said, I bought this book by accident and there’s no way I’m reading it. I thought well, it’s not quite my fault, mate’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 8:33am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2018, 10:12pm

When it was released 10 years ago, Randall Hansen’s book performed as expected, racking up strong sales that gradually tapered off. But this week the Canadian professor’s 2008 military history unexpectedly leapt back on to bestseller lists.

The reason lies in the book’s name – “Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945” – just a subtitle away from the Michael Wolff’s explosive exposé of the Trump White House.

“I haven’t seen this level of interest since the book first came out,” said Hansen, a political-science professor at the University of Toronto.

He was in Washington on Friday when Wolff’s book was released and had joked with his colleagues about the book he had written long ago with the same title.

After dinner on Friday Hansen logged into Amazon and found that his book – which explores civilian perspectives on the Allied bombing of Germany during the second world war – had edged back on to three of the site’s bestseller categories. “It amused me and part of me thought, can people really be that dumb to be confusing these books?”

In a few cases, it appeared that this was exactly what had happened. “I had a couple of bitter comments,” said Hansen. “There was one tweet, he came forward and said, ‘I bought this book by accident and there’s no way I’m reading it,’ in kind of this accusatory tone. I thought well, ‘it’s not quite my fault, mate.’”

Others had stumbled upon Hansen’s work during their search for Wolff’s book, and had bought the critically acclaimed book out of interest.

Hansen said he wouldn’t know how many copies of his book had sold in recent days until his royalty statements came in next month. But he was delighted that his book was now part of the wider conversation about Trump and his administration.

While Wolff used fire and fury to reference Trump’s threat of war against North Korea, Hansen’s book delves into what fire and fury looks like in practice, exploring the horrific consequences war holds for civilians.

“And we’re talking about that at a moment when we have this warmongering, unstable, deranged demagogue in the White House,” he said. “So that coincidence actually makes me happier than the sales.”