Is the author of ‘O’ Mark Salter?


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The book ‘O’ is a novelized, imagined account of the Obama 2012 campaign, one that our reviewer Tim Rutten found ‘dispiriting and, ultimately, irritating.’ But Rutten had no one to hold to account: When it hit shelves earlier this month, the author of ‘O’ was listed, tantalizingly, as ‘Anonymous.’

But the authorial mystery may be over. On Thursday, Time magazine reported that sources confirmed that Mark Salter is the author. Salter was a chief aide to John McCain and his speechwriter during the 2008 campaign.


Salter was considered a likely candidate by both the New York Post and Politico.

Apart from following in the footsteps of Joe Klein, who wrote ‘Primary Colors,’ a fictionalized account of President Clinton’s 1992 campaign as Anonymous, Salter may have had other reasons for keeping his identity secret -- it’s just not that good. Rutten found little to like about the book:

Perhaps this dreary book’s largest shortcoming is its implacably earnest tone. Politics can be raffish, ribald, antic, chaotic and mind-boggling, but an authentic account never reads quite like something pulled out of a newspaper’s pile of unsolicited op-ed page submissions from assistant poli-sci professors at the local state college, as this novel too frequently does.

Is Time right -- is Salter the author of ‘O’? Neither he nor his publisher is saying.

-- Carolyn Kellogg