Pentagon attempting to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of Afghan war memoir

The New York Times reports that US Department of Defense officials are "negotiating to buy and destroy all 10,000 copies of the first printing of an Afghan war memoir" from St. Martin's Press, which they claim includes intelligence secrets. But those objections came a bit late: "Several dozen copies of the unexpurgated 299-page book had already been sent out to potential reviewers, and some copies found their way to online booksellers. The New York Times was able to buy a copy online late last week." Streisand Effect, here we come.


  1. Um, wouldn’t announcing that you were trying to find and destroy all copies of a book because it contained sensitive information pretty much guarantee that the other side would track it down as well?

    1. The “other side” is probably the American people themselves. That’s who most government secrets are kept from anyway.

  2. I wonder if there’s an ebook edition planned. Like to see the Pentagon try and buy up all those copies!

  3. Silly Pentagon. They don’t really understand how the Internet works, do they.

    Once information is out it’s everywhere and forever.
    Making a big deal out of suppressing it gets it more attention, which makes more copies get created.

    If someone wrote a book and sent a copy to a publisher, you can bet there are copies. They will end up on the Internet. Everything does.

    Antinous said it. The only way to fight information you don’t like on the Internet is to overwhelm it with the information you do want.

  4. A far more evil type of book burning than symbolically destroying a few copies of the Quran, but for some reason this gets much less attention.

  5. Incidentally…I think we have to consider the possibility that buying up this book actually IS disinformation. Maybe the book is as innocuous as the military initially thought it was and now they want to black out bits and make a big to do about it, get people talking about buying up all the books, get people searching for a copy in order to distract from the Iraq War Papers that WikiLeaks is about to come out with.

    I mean, maybe that’s giving the military too much credit for being WAY too smart, but hey…it’s a possibility.

  6. what Delaney said. maybe we’re falling right into their ploy. or maybe we’re giving them waaaaaay too much credit. I mean, look at what they’re trying to cover up.

  7. Major Major’s father was a sober God-fearing man whose idea of a good joke was to lie about his age. He was a long-limbed farmer, a God-fearing, freedom-loving, law-abiding rugged individualist who held that federal aid to anyone but farmers was creeping socialism. He advocated thrift and hard work and disapproved of loose women who turned him down. His specialty was alfalfa, and he made a good thing out of not growing any. The government paid him well for every bushel of alfalfa he did not grow. The more alfalfa he did not grow, the more money the government gave him, and he spent every penny he didn’t earn on new land to increase the amount of alfalfa he did not produce. Major Major’s father worked without rest at not growing alfalfa. On long winter evenings he remained indoors and did not mend harness, and he sprang out of bed at the crack of noon every day just to make certain that the chores would not be done. He invested in land wisely and soon was not growing more alfalfa than any other man in the county. Neighbors sought him out for advice on all subjects, for he had made much money and was therefore wise. “As ye sow, so shall ye reap,” he counseled one and all, and everyone said, “Amen.”

    1. Catch 22, great book.

      I really had to dig in to stay attached to that book, it was weird for me. I love comedy, I love books about war/stories and accounts of peoples lives in wars, but the repetitiveness of the jokes in that book really wore on me.

      Back on topic, it’s funny how any information about current wars or military actions which isn’t some watered down version passed on to the mass media is considered extremely sensitive and covered up.

      I understand hiding details of locations and current partnerships etc, but what have you got to hide, dear old government?

  8. It just occurred to me that something similar to this “stop publication” was attempted with the Malleus Maleficarum (Witch Hunter’s Bible), but failed due to the invention of the Gutenberg printing press. I find the parallels interesting.

  9. An important gloss on this: one assumes that if the Pentagon buys out the whole print run that St Martins will do the same thing any publisher does when it sells out a print run: go back to the presses and print some more. Presumably, St Martins can print as many as the Pentagon has budget to buy, and then print some more for bookstore distribution (by which point, St Martins could drop the cost to basically zero and let us all enjoy a copy using the Pentagon’s subsidy).

    1. “..let us all enjoy a copy using the Pentagon’s subsidy.”

      And, bankrupt the Pentagon at the same time! :)

    2. “..let us all enjoy a copy using the Pentagon’s subsidy.”

      And, bankrupt the Pentagon at the same time! :)

  10. Wow, that is as silly as Peanut Pie. So mind numbingly pointless that it makes me sad for the current administration. Antinous is right on the money on this one, as is Cory.

    OOOHHHHH, let me go all Rubicon on you. Maybe they are trying to feed us disinformation by making us think that the book reveals security compromising information, but in fact is what Antinous suggests what they should have done in the first place.

    Who is more stupid? Us or them? It would be cheaper if they just realized we are them, and sadly, they are us.

    This shizzit is getting as nutty as the Bush Administration, or at the very least as nutty as, well you know…

  11. In Denmark, the military tried to ban a soldier´s personal record of the afghan war. What happended was that one of the largest newspapers (“Politiken”) printed the WHOLE book.

  12. Happy 9th anniversary of the Donald Rumsfeld speech in which he mentioned that DoD was missing $2300 billion.

    Anyone who has to take the trouble to keep track of spending $5 here and $5 there should appreciate the irony.

  13. Today’s Washington Post sheds a little more light on the story:
    “The Pentagon is now negotiating with Shaffer’s publisher to buy the entire first print run, according to a source familiar with the negotiations. […]

    A new print run, without the disputed passages, is being prepared by the publisher. Meanwhile, the first printing is sitting in a warehouse in Virginia. Several dozen review copies of the first edition have already been circulated to media outlets, including The Washington Post.”


    Apparently, the author claims that the DoD already reviewed and cleared the book, and then changed its mind. I have no doubt the contents of the first edition will make their way to the internet, though. Wikileaks, perhaps?

  14. Wasn’t this in Swimming with Sharks? Kevin Spacey reads a bad review and orders his smack to buy up every copy. “But…it’s Time Magazine.”

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