To start, a brief apology.  A combination of a virus and a heavy schedule this week means that this entry will be brief.  

I’m just going to point to this news item, which details a class action that’s been filed against former President Jimmy Carter’s book Peace Not Apartheid

[A] group of Carter’s detractors have filed suit against the 39th President of the United States, alleging that the book was falsely marketed as “the absolute truth” on the subject of peace negotiations between Palestine and Israel.

The action says that Carter’s book contains “demonstrable falsehoods, omissions, and knowing misrepresentations designed to promote Carter’s agenda of anti-Israel propaganda,” and that Simon & Schuster has refused to issue corrections despite “irrefutable proof” that the book contains falsehoods.

The plaintiffs’ counsel for the suit points to a previous class action against controversial author James Frey, who had admitted on The Oprah Winfrey Show that he marketed a novel as a recovery memoir.  

The Frey suit settled quickly, mainly because it was following on some epically bad publicity for the publisher.  If I had to guess (and I should stress I have absolutely no more information than what I can glean from the New York Times), this suit will be much tougher for plaintiffs.  Leaving aside the fact that the defendants are unlikely to settle quickly, the plaintiffs will have to demonstrate that each class member relied on the truth of the allegedly false statements.  Historically, that has been extremely difficult for plaintiffs to prove.  

The case bears watching though, because if political critics start using the class action device as a way of raising the costs of writing controversial non-fiction, there is no shortage of books, and no shortage of critics.