[Ed. – Which he has said he will distribute among the poor … not!]
According to literary agent Andrew Wylie, President Obama’s post-White House memoir could fetch an advance of up to $20 million . First lady Michelle Obama’s memoir, which she has apparently already started, could bring in an additional $12 million — not a bad nest egg for their golden years.
Presidents have long relied on memoirs to secure their financial futures. Calvin Coolidge got a $65,000 advance, back when that was real money, and every presidential memoirist since Ronald Reagan has received well beyond $1 million for his recollections. But money is just one factor in the decision to write a memoir, and not necessarily the most important one. Much like a presidential library or a new foundation, the post-presidential memoir is an effort to influence history’s verdict. Through these books, presidents try to retell their stories, recast their decisions and redefine their legacies — competing with the journalists, historians and former staffers who will try to do the same.
So, can a memoir bolster, or at least salvage, a president’s reputation? As it turns out, successful presidents don’t always produce successful books, and unsuccessful presidents have often produced books that are better than their administrations. When it comes to legacies, though, the best works do provide human insights that can soften history’s harshest judgments — but rarely overturn obvious ones.