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Milken Book to Put Readers at His Trading Desk

From Associated Press

Michael Milken, imprisoned in Wall Street’s biggest scandal and portrayed as an inside-trading megalomaniac in books such as “Den of Thieves,” will write his autobiography for Walt Disney Co.

Milken’s book, to be ghost-written by William Novak (Nancy Reagan’s “My Turn,” Oliver North’s “Under Fire”), will be published by Disney’s Hyperion press. It will examine how the junk bond financing that Milken popularized at Drexel Burnham Lambert transformed American business.

In announcing the deal Tuesday, Hyperion Publisher Robert Miller said he hopes Milken’s book will convey what it was like at the “white-hot center of a revolution.”

“The controversy that has surrounded him has overshadowed the fact that he has always been a visionary, and it is that vision--and his explanation of how he implemented it--that promises to make this one of the most compelling autobiographies in many years,” Miller said.

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Milken, 47, savagely protected his privacy from public scrutiny during his years as Drexel’s junk bond chief.

He pleaded guilty to six felonies stemming from the federal investigation of Wall Street speculator and inside trader Ivan Boesky. Friends contend the book deal was a “business decision” to close a horrifying chapter in his life and allow him and his family to go forward. He served 22 months in a prison camp.

Eight months after his release, Milken is serving three years of court-ordered community service working for Dare America, an anti-drug organization. He is also being treated for prostate cancer that was diagnosed shortly after his release.

His defenders contend he was a job creator without peer who made capital available to huge segments of American business to whom it had been denied. They include casino magnate Stephen A. Wynn, whose Mirage Resorts prospered with $100 million in funding.

Wynn, who became a close friend of the financier, said Milken now “realizes that the biggest mistake of his life was not discussing himself or his work when there was such a thirst to hear about it.”

“He always thought it was immodest,” Wynn said in a telephone interview with Associated Press. Wynn said he told Milken it was a mistake because “you have to define yourself or the press will do it for you.”

Milken declined to be interviewed Tuesday, but he said in a statement: “My intent is that the readers feel as if they were sitting at my desk. . . . (I) hope that my frank discussion will address some of the pitfalls I encountered as a result of living in a period when perception became reality.”


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