Osama bin Laden, SEAL books hurtling down the publishing pipeline

Watch for the next book wave: anything about Osama bin Laden and the Navy SEALs.

In "Seal Team Six," Howard Wasdin takes readers deep inside the world of the elite Navy unit.

Before the ink even dried on the latest craze in publishing – the flurry of royal wedding books – publishers are scrambling to address another, very different one.

Yes, Osama bin Laden is in vogue.

At breakneck speed, publishers are cooking up a storm of bin Laden books they can rush to print fast: digital titles, essay collections, and insta-books.

They’re also accelerating plans for existing bin Laden books in the pipeline. The one everyone’s talking about? The incredible made-for-Hollywood, Jason Bourne-like daring do of the counterterrorism unit credited with killing bin Laden, SEAL Team Six.

“SEAL Team Six: Memoirs of an Elite Navy SEAL Sniper,” by Howard Wasdin and Stephen Templin, was originally scheduled to be published May 24. Now St. Martin’s Press, an imprint of Macmillan, is rushing publication, hoping to have it distributed next week.

Even before publication, the book is surfing its way up bestseller lists, already second place in Amazon’s list of books that have made the biggest gains in sales over the last 24 hours. “SEAL Team Six” is No. 29 place on the Amazon list overall – up from No. 4,000.

According to the publishers, the memoir explores the rigorous training and tests author Wasdin endured to join SEAL Team Six, as well as describing his time in combat.

“More than learning how to pick a lock, they learned how to blow the door off its hinges,” says the publisher.

We’re betting Hollywood producers are busy adapting the screenplay.

Another existing book gaining fresh attention is the stunning 2009 photo book, “SEAL: The Unspoken Sacrifice,” by documentary photographer Stephanie Freid-Perenchio and Jennifer Walton.

Through raw, gripping photos, the book offers a rare glimpse inside the military’s most elite – and secretive – special operations units.

Not to be outdone, just about every publishing house is rushing bin Laden-related books to print, specifically with an eye to speed: Under executive editor Jon Meacham, Random House is planning an essay collection about the Al Qaeda leader, “Beyond Bin Laden: America and the Future of Terror,” to be released as an ebook next week.

The Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, is looking to Peter Bergen, the journalist-author and “bin Laden expert” behind the well-received “The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda,” for another bin Laden-related piece, this time digital.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Mr. Bergan said he is “thinking about a book that would look at how and why bin Laden was caught and the history of the hunt.”

A gripping portion of the book is expected to focus on the last 40 minutes of bin Laden’s life, the approximate duration of the Navy SEAL operation.

One thing is for sure – rarely in history has so much attention been paid and so much ink spilled on a brief 40 minutes in history.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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