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Stupid White Men

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Stupid White Men cover

Stupid White Men ...and Other Sorry Excuses for the State of the Nation! (ISBN 0-06-039245-2) is a book by Michael Moore published in 2001. As of April 2003, it had spent 50 consecutive weeks on the New York Times bestseller list (eight weeks at #1) for hardcover nonfiction and is in its 43rd printing. It is generally known by its short title, Stupid White Men.

The book is highly critical of recent U.S. government policies in general, and the policies of the Bush administration in particular. It has been criticized by media watchdogs as well as moderate and conservative critics for several factual inaccuracies.

Moore completed Stupid White Men shortly before the September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attack. His publisher, HarperCollins, initially refused to release the book, fearing bad publicity in the wake of this event (despite an advance printing of over 50,000 copies).

HarperCollins wanted Moore to rewrite 50 percent of the book. They asked him to tone down criticism of the President. They also wanted to change the title to Michael Moore: The American.; delete two or three chapters, including one called "Kill Whitey!" and insisted that Moore himself would have to pay the cost of printing the revised book. If he didn't comply, they would simply abandon the project and pulp the books already printed.

On December 1st, Moore found himself giving a presentation in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He told the audience about the struggle to get his book published and that the only copies in existence were about to be recycled and probably would come back as Rush Limbaugh or Bill O'Reilly books. Moore read the first chapters of his book to the group. "You're probably the only people in America who will ever hear these words," he said. He asked the people in the room that day not to go to the media and make a big deal about it. It was his battle and he was determined to fight alone, away from the public eye. In the audience that day was Ann Sparanese, a librarian from Englewood, New Jersey. She did not take note of his warning about going public.

Sparanese sent word to various email lists including SRRT (Social Responsibilities Round Table) and Library Juice, explaining Moore's predicament. She expressed that this battle wasn't just one man's struggle with a publishing house, but was a battle to preserve free speech and to stop censorship.

Two days later HarperCollins phoned Moore. "What did you tell the librarians?" they asked. "We're getting hundreds of letters a day from angry librarians. Do you know how much business we do with these people?"

HarperCollins eventually gave Stupid White Men the green light but not before informing Moore "you are out of touch with the American people." They handed him the list of cities for the book tour. There were only three listed: Ridgewood, New Jersey, Arlington, Virginia, and Denver, Colorado. The message was clear to him; HarperCollins wanted no association with his book: Moore was on his own.

To the chagrin of HarperCollins, the book became enormously popular, becoming the largest-selling nonfiction book for the year 2002 at such major outlets as Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, and occupying the #1 spot in the U.S., the UK (including being the number one seller on Amazon.co.uk before a British printing was even proposed), Germany, Ireland, and elsewhere.

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