Entry 42: Paperback Writer

February 9, 2018

Editor’s Note: This is the 42nd installment in Van Jackson’s daily writing journal, “Nuke Your Darlings,” which tracks his six-month battle to write a new book on North Korea. Will he meet his deadline?

Today was productive—just under 800 words.  They were the kind of words that really helped anchor the current chapter too, explaining the causes of Obama’s policy of strategic patience toward North Korea after the collapse of diplomatic engagement in 2012.

I got my complimentary copies of the paperback edition for my first book in the mail today.  You get a certain number of free copies when you contract with a publishing house.  This was a big deal for my first book because the paperback edition has a $29 sticker price as opposed to $99 for the hardback edition.

Sort of exciting to see the book in a new format, but it’s also anti-climactic since even the paperback edition has been available for several months—and it took more than a year after the hardback edition was out before the paperback edition was released.

The big news today was that Trump met with Henry Kissinger to discuss North Korea and China.  It wasn’t the first time, but I think the last time Kissinger counseled Trump public discourse hadn’t been so obsessed with the preventive attack option for North Korea.

Incidentally, I was admiring the paperback copies of my last book when I saw the news about Trump sitting down with Kissinger.  As I documented in one of it’s chapters, Kissinger was an advocate for attacking North Korea in April 1969, even if the conflict went nuclear.  After North Korea shot down a U.S. aircraft and Nixon was itching for retaliation, Kissinger said “We might have to go to tactical nuclears and clean it up.  All hell will break loose for two months, but at [the] end of [the] road there will be peace in Asia.”

Gives me the willies.  Let’s hope the Kissinger who advised Trump today wasn’t the Kissinger of 1969.


Van Jackson is a senior editor at War on the Rocks and an associate editor of the Texas National Security Review.