Asking famous people to say something nice about one’s new book is embarrassing and difficult, and so I was happy to leave the responsibility for collecting blurbs in the hands of my editors. What happened next blindsided me: An ambitious young intern took on the task, looked at the index of “Addicted to Reform: A 12-Step Program to Rescue Public Education,” and wrote to the people who were mentioned most often. Someone there slipped me a copy of the responses, which are, quite frankly, pretty disappointing. I once had high hopes that my book would sell thousands and thousands of copies, but now I’m feeling pretty depressed. Here’s how they responded:
FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: “People made fun of me when I slipped up and asked ‘Is our children learning?’ but I care a lot about education and there’s no way I will say something nice about a book that makes fun of President Obama and I.”
FORMER PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: “This foundational book belongs in my Presidential Library. In fact, I promise you that I will personally see that it is shredded and mixed in with the wet cement when the foundation is poured.”
FORMER SECRETARY OF EDUCATION ARNE DUNCAN: “When I read what he wrote about my “Race to the Top” program, I created one just for Merrow’s book. I’m calling it “Race to the Dumpster.”
PRESIDENT DONALD J. TRUMP: “I know that John Merrow is the son of the famous CBS broadcaster Edward R. Merrow, but, even if you put them together, I am more famous than them. If I were going to read a book, it would not be this one, unless maybe Frederick Douglass recommended it to me personally!”
SENATOR MARCO RUBIO (R, FL): “I looked in the index. I’m not even mentioned, so why would I buy this book?”
THE WALTON FAMILY: “We respectfully decline to endorse this book. Not only does it criticize our effort to improve education, but the author is known to shop at Costco.”
BILL GATES, co-founder of Microsoft and co-president of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation: “I find it remarkable that Mr. Merrow has the temerity to challenge our reform approach. The author spent his entire life working in public broadcasting and probably never made more than $50,000 a year. Ergo, he has minimum credibility.”
MICHELLE A. RHEE, former Chancellor of the public schools in Washington, DC: “WTF?”
EVA MOSKOWITZ, CEO of Success Academies: “Ditto!”
VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: “There’s no way that I would allow myself to be alone in a room with this book. For one thing, John Merrow’s wife is attractive. Very, very attractive, as a matter of fact. And, come to think of it, Merrow was a good looking guy when he was young. Temptation, begone. If you want to risk damnation and read it, do it in a crowded public library…but please pray first.”
BETSY DEVOS, United States Secretary of Education: “Because this is America, I have choice about the books I read, and I choose not to read it. Now we need all children to have school choice.”
JOHN FALLON, CEO of Pearson: “John Merrow was on our Board of Directors for one day back in April, 2015, so it would be a conflict of interest for me to endorse it. And when he wrote about it, he greatly exaggerated the truth, so why should I trust anything he writes?” https://themerrowreport.com/2015/04/01/teaming-up-with-pearson/
WILLIAM J. BENNETT, former United States Secretary of Education: “I’m pleased that he left out that story about me peeing in the bushes, but, other than that, I can see no reason for recommending this book.”
The New Press will publish “Addicted to Reform” on August 1, 2017, without any of these blurbs. It will be available in hardcover and as an e-book (which includes links to dozens and dozens of videos from my 41-year career.)
7 thoughts on “Famous People Don’t Like My Book”
Funny and appreciated in this challenging times.
Very cute and clever, but you missed a few who might have other controversial comments such as Mike Kirst, Mike Smith, Arne Duncan, George Miller, Tom Harkin, Mike Petrilli, Checker Finn, etc. Can’t wait to read it knowing you.
Bill Gates, Eli Broad, and the Waltons, too.
Please feel free to add your own….
The CEO of Pearson and Secretary DeVos have added their thoughts…
Love it! Spot on! You are always insightful and candid. Keep it up!
Didn’t all of these blurbs actually arrive exactly 47 days ago? [4/1/2017]
Delighted that “my” publisher, The New Press, is bringing out you book, John.