Leak adds to furore over Hillary memoir

Simon & Schuster may have taken a colossal gamble in shelling out an $8m (£4.8m) advance for Hillary Clinton's memoirs. But leaks, threats of lawsuits and the media furore have provided a publicity platform for next week's launch of which publishers dream.

American front pages were full yesterday of the Associated Press scoop - the publishers threatened to sue AP for quoting from a leaked copy; of juicy titbits chronicling Hillary's devastation when her husband finally confessed to his liaison with Monica Lewinsky, and her description of the miserable family holiday on Martha's Vineyard that followed. Then she touches on the six "brutal" months after Inauguration Day in 1993, when her father died, and Vincent Foster, deputy White House counsel and friend of the First Lady, killed himself. Her mother-in-law was dying and critics were making hay with the missteps of a new administration.

Yesterday, reporters were hunting for the elusive volume, one million copies of which have already been printed and sealed in warehouses across the country - except for the one seen by AP. Was it by accident or design? Simon & Schuster wrote to the news agency this week, objecting to the leak, complaining of copyright infringement and muttering about legal action. But AP declared: "We disagree completely with their legal conclusions concerning our story."

Time magazine, which planned to publish excerpts in its next issue, is mulling its options now that the secrecy has been lifted. But any loss of the rights from Time are likely to be made good by added public interest. The book will be in bookshops on Monday, 9 June. The evening before, Mrs Clinton will do a prime-time television interview with Barbara Walters, and some local bookshops plan to open specially at midnight for those readers who just can't wait.

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