Remember the days when political books had regal, important-sounding titles like Theodore White's The Making of the President and Jay Winik's The Month That Saved America?
Those days are gone. Today, readers of books on presidents and politics are more likely to be subjected to titles that read like verbal gut-punches.
Ann Coulter, the right-wing pundit, has been the most notable employer of invective-laden titles, riding the recent books Treason and Slander to the top of The New York Times best-seller list.
But Coulter, a skilled cable TV mud wrestler (of the rhetorical variety, of course), is a minor-leaguer at this game.
Want mean-spiritedness in your book titles? How about political hack Dick Morris' recent Off With Their Heads or Mona Charen's Useful Idiots, the conservative columnist's screed against the left? Fox News commentator Sean Hannity is scheduled to publish a new book that labels those who disagree with him as "evil" (Deliver Us From Evil), and pundit Laura Ingraham is busy promoting the pleasantly titled Shut Up and Sing.
Liberals, realizing that the blame game helps to sell books, have adopted the same strategy. The title of Joe Conason's Big Lies tells you just what the New York Observer and Salon.com columnist thinks of the right wing, as does political activist Jim Hightower's Thieves in High Places. And who can forget Al Franken's Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them and Michael Moore's Stupid White Men?
All of which means one thing: If you're trying to get publishers interested in a political book you're writing, try a snappy, confrontational title.
The Hartford Courant is a Tribune Publishing newspaper.