From January 2005, Russian bookshops will stock the translated version of Bill Clinton's memoirs, "My Life." The book has already become a bestseller in the US with the American reading public buying over a million copies between its June 22 release and early July.
"The first print-run of Clinton's 'Life' in Russia will be 15,000 copies but we hope to sell 20,000-30,000 copies," Alexander Limansky, marketing director of the Alpina Business Books publishing house, which acquired the right to publish the book, said at the project's launch at RIA Novosti. "Publishing such books is commercially profitable and prestigious."
"American readers only wanted to read what Clinton wrote about White House intern Monica Lewinsky," said prominent political scientist Vyacheslav Nikonov, president of the Politika (Policy) foundation. But Russians will search for other things, in particular, what the US president writes about Russia. According to Mr Nikonov, the ex-president showed "a good knowledge of Russian life."
Mr Clinton's romance with Russia began long ago. As a young man, he loved reading Russian classics and he came to Moscow for the first time in 1970, bringing along novels by Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky. According to Mr Nikonov, the part of the book about Moscow mentions "a good old man from the KGB who held salutary talks with the young American" and "a girl from the Patrice Lumumba People's Friendship University who attended the Moscow parties" of the future US president.
Mr Clinton's relations with Boris Yeltsin were almost cloudless. "Clinton viewed Russia as the battleground between the forces of darkness and light," says Mr Nikonov. "Yeltsin and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin symbolised the light forces, while Communist leader [Gennady] Zyuganov and Liberal Democrat leader [Vladimir] Zhirinovsky were the forces of darkness." Clinton always wanted Yeltsin to remain in power, concludes the political scientist.
He thinks Mr Clinton "tried to avoid complicating Yeltsin's life" over NATO enlargement. In 1995, he promised his Russian counterpart that NATO would not expand before the 1996 presidential elections in Russia. When "Boris Yeltsin joined the Partnership for Peace programme, it was taken as his agreement to NATO expansion," stresses the scientist.
Mr Clinton admits in his book that the US decision to withdraw from the 1972 ABM Treaty, which kept back the arms race, was promoted by a desire to get Congressional approval for more appropriations for missile programmes.
"Clinton's 'Life' is a 'political Harry Potter,'" said chief editor of Book Review Alexander Gavrilov. He believes that the US president's memoirs could become a non-fiction bestseller. He especially likes the part about the grand jury, when Bill Clinton had to describe, under oath, the intimate details of his relationship with Ms Lewinsky.
"It is a book about a private man who is an interesting object of study," Alexander Gavrilov concludes. "It is a story about a political leader fighting back against his bad luck. The experience of defeating bad luck has no national borders and can be applied anywhere."
There are many interesting facts in the book. Mr Clinton, whose royalties ran into $10 million, lived from hand to mouth in his student days, spending only $1 a week on food. In his youth, he seriously thought of becoming a musician or doctor. But he chose politics because he thought it was an easier profession. He is also a distant relative of President George Bush Jr. (they have common ancestors 13 generations back).
Will Mr Clinton's memoirs affect this year's presidential campaign in the US? Hardly, thinks Vyacheslav Nikonov. But the strongest democratic candidate at the 2008 elections will most probably be Hilary Clinton, another talented memoirs writer.