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Dishing dirt from the shadows

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Anonymous authors have been digging up dirt and stirring up controversy since, well, there have been authors. The latest brave soul to not attach their name to their work is the person behind “O: A Presidential Novel,” out  Jan. 25.

The novel is rumored to be a fictionalized account of President Barack Obama in the White House. History shows that the writer eventually will be unmasked. Here’s a look at a few past tomes of this nature:

'Democracy: An American Novel,' 1880

Who: Henry Adams. His authorship was revealed by his publisher after his death in 1918.

What: This is the work that set the template for later Beltway satires. Though not tied to specific Washington players, this novel tackles the use and abuse of power by political elites.

Reception: It was an instant best-seller.

'Primary Colors,' 1996

Who: Newsweek journalist Joe Klein, who repeatedly denied writing it.

What: Klein’s novel recounts the presidential run of a skirt-chasing Southern governor who sounded an awful lot like Bill Clinton.

Reception: The Washington press corps ate it up, although its members cried foul when they found out that they’d been betrayed by one of their own.

'Through Our Enemies’ Eyes: Osama bin Laden, Radical Islam & the Future of America,' 2003
'Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror,' 2004

Who: CIA official Michael Scheuer. It was an open secret by the time he published his second book, but the CIA insisted that he publish anonymously.

What: Scheuer’s nonfiction books are a harsh critique of the Bush administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

Reception: A war-weary public welcomed this takedown of Bush administration policies.

'O: A Presidential Novel,' 2011

Who: Anonymous for now. Joe Klein denies that it’s him.

What: Much like “Primary Colors,” this book fictionalizes a presidential election, in this case Obama’s 2012 run. A leaked excerpt on Slate shows that the book ends with Obama losing. The general feeling is that the author is someone with an ideological ax to grind.

Reception: The anonymous publication is being called a PR stunt, but political junkies are still eagerly awaiting the juicy details.

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