Publisher Drops Michael Hastings’ Afghanistan Book

Agent Andrew Wylie is shopping it to other houses

Publishing house Little, Brown has dropped Michael Hastings’ book on Afghanistan, reports the New York Post’s Keith Kelly. Titled The Operators, the book was to have been based on Hastings’ controversial Rolling Stone article, “The Runaway General,” about Gen. Stanley McChrystal and the war in Afghanistan.

The Department of Defense launched an investigation into the article, which detailed serious high-level insubordination in the Army and led to McChrystal’s firing, and said that it was unable to find people to corroborate certain details of Hastings’ story. Yesterday, a Rolling Stone spokesman said, “We absolutely stand by the reporting.”

Hastings signed the book deal with Little, Brown shortly after his article was published in June 2010, supposedly grabbing a “high-six-figure advance.” With the book’s cancellation, Hastings could forfeit a big chunk of that advance, says Kelly.

Amazon still has The Operators listed for a December 2011 release, published by Little, Brown. But sources said that literary agent Andrew Wylie has quietly begun offering the manuscript to other publishers this week.

Michael Pietsch, the publisher and president of Little, Brown, wouldn’t provide any details as to why Hastings’ manuscript was rejected at the last minute. When reached by phone yesterday, he told Kelly, “I'm not going to talk about that,” and disconnected his phone.