Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Neither the authors - nor the subject - of the authorized biography are available to hustle the book on TV talk shows, but Simon & Schuster did manage to launch its latest publication in grand style Tuesday night.
The setting was the gilded, mirrored elegance of the Soviet embassy's second-floor drawing room. At the entrance, on the table, propped upright to show off the cover, were copies of the book, "Leonid I. Brezhnev: Pages From His Life."
It will cost $11.95 to read the 320 pages (with more than 60 photographs) written under the imprimatur of the Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. with a foreword from Brezhnev himself. The story moves from childhood through such chapters as "In the Fire of Struggle Against Fascism" and "Tackling the Tremendous Job of Building a New Society."
Simon & Schuster hopes to turn a capitalistic profit from the biography authorized by the Soviet leader. Some 35,000 copies will be printed on the first run, Dan Green, associate publisher said Tuesday night.
"We think there will be enormous interest in a book written with the approval of the Russian head of state in power," he said.
Micheal Korda, the publishing house's editor-in-chief and himself author of best-sellers "Success" and "Power," also expects the Brezhnev biography to be a market success.
"It was all very simple. I just wrote Brezhnev," Korda recounted Tuesday night, explaining the origin of the idea for the book directed at American readers.
Well, it really wasn't quite that simple. Novosti, the Soviet press and publishing agent, came to Korda and asked if he had any suggestions for books.
"When asked what book I would most like to have, I answered an autobiography of Brezhnev," Korda recalls.
As it worked out, Novosti agreed to supply an authorized biography instead. After delicate negotiations in a joint Soviet-American publishing venture, the manuscript - already translated in English - was delivered to the Simon & Schuster offices.
"It did not need a great deal of editing," said Korda in a statement uncharacteristic of most editors.
About the only changes, he said, came from translation of some phrases into more understandable Americanisms.
Korda said the Brezhnev authorized biography might be turned into a paperback but he can't see it as a movie.
Neither Korda nor Green would say how much they paid for the rights to the biography. Green said it was a "normal book contract," and the company never discusses money unless the writers want to reveal such figures.
The money from Simon & Schuster will go to Soviet Life magazine, the Life-style magazine published by the Soviet Union for consumption in the United States, according to Gerogi Isachenko, information counselor for the Soviet embassy.
Vladillen M. Vasev, the Soviet embassy's minister counselor, hosted Tuesday night's reception, with a brief appearance from Russian Ambassador Anatolly Dobrynin, just returned from Moscow.
As book-promoting parties go, the Soviet embassy reception had a social flair, particularly at the buffet table with its Russian delicacies. Simon & Schuster rounded up several of its Washington-based authors, including Woodward and Bernstein, Judith Voist and Patrick Anderson.
Before getting a chance at the buffet table, the nearly 200 guest first had to watch a 20-minute documentary on the life of Brezhnev. Unfortunately, it was filmed for showing within Russia and had no English subtitles. An embassy official did give some commentary as the film was shown.
In his foreword to the book, Brezhnev said he wrote the introduction to help "the American reader get a better knowledge of the life of the Soviet people" and thereby to promote understanding.