A controversial biography of Republican presidential front-runner George W. Bush has found a new backer after being pulled from bookstore shelves in October because its original publisher lost faith in the author's credibility.

Sander Hicks, 28, founder and senior editor of Soft Skull Publishing, a tiny independent publisher based in New York's Lower East Side, said today that it would reprint "Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President" in January with an initial run of 25,000 copies.

New York publisher St. Martin's Press had recalled the book only days after its release in October amid reports that author J.H. Hatfield was convicted in 1988 for attempted murder.

"Fortunate Son" quoted unnamed sources as saying the Texas governor had been arrested for cocaine possession in 1972, but that a Republican state judge had the record expunged in exchange for community service as a favor to his father, who had helped him get elected. Both Bushes denied the allegations.

Hicks said the book would have a new introduction and a new index, but there would be no other substantial changes.

Asked if there would be any alterations to the book's afterword, which contained the controversial allegations, Hicks replied: "No. And there doesn't need to be."

Hicks, a former shift manager at a Kinko's document copying shop in Manhattan, said the book stood on its own. "It's not like we have to trust him [Hatfield] as a person. We only have to trust him as an author."

Hicks, who started Soft Skull on an informal basis in 1992 and incorporated it in 1996, said he had conferred with St. Martin's legal counsel about the research the publisher did on the book before he decided to revive it.

In a statement on the publisher's Web site (www.softskull.com), Hicks said Hatfield stood by his story and his sources. Hatfield was not available for comment. Hicks said he had not contacted Gov. Bush about his intention to reprint the book, nor had he been contacted by Bush.

Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said in October that St. Martin's "should be ashamed they printed it in the first place."