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James Howard Hatfield (January 7, 1958 – July 18, 2001) was an American author.
Fortunate Son and controversy
Hatfield was the author of Fortunate Son, a book which alleges that George W. Bush received preferential treatment throughout his life, from his early schooling at Andover, Yale, and Harvard, to his business connections in Midland and his personal ownership interest in the Texas Rangers baseball team, to his candidacy for Governor and president. Hatfield argues that Bush succeeded in life not on merit, but on family connections alone, as a member of a modern oligarchy.
Hatfield's most controversial allegation involves Bush's alleged 1972 cocaine possession arrest in Harris County, Texas. According to Hatfield's book, three unnamed sources close to Bush claimed a judge had expunged Bush's drug case and given him community service as a favor to his father, who was then ambassador to the United Nations. Hatfield later claimed that his sources were Karl Rove, Clay Johnson, and Michael Dannenhauer.
Soon after the book's release, The Dallas Morning News reported that Hatfield was a paroled felon who had been convicted in 1988 of paying a hit man $5,000 to murder his former boss with a car bomb. It was also revealed that Hatfield pleaded guilty to embezzlement in 1992. Hatfield at first denied the allegations when his publisher confronted him, but he eventually owned up to his criminal history.
This was the second time that a book of Hatfield's had been challenged. In 1985 he had written an unofficial James Bond novel, The Killing Zone, which – although purporting to be officially sanctioned by Glidrose, Bond's literary copyright holder – was in fact a vanity novel.[not in citation given]
Due to the revelations of Hatfield's criminal past and the damage to his credibility, in October 1999, Hatfield's publisher, St. Martin's Press, recalled 70,000 copies of Fortunate Son and left an additional 20,000 books in storage. Even so, the book had already reached the New York Times bestseller list. Hatfield responded that, before the Bush campaign brought pressure to bear, St. Martin's had publicly stated that the book had been "carefully fact-checked and scrutinized by lawyers."
The book was later republished by Soft Skull Press, a company headed by New York punk musician Sander Hicks. The relationship between Hicks and Hatfield was explored in the movie Horns and Halos, an award-winning documentary film directed by Suki Hawley and Michael Galinsky. In one scene from the DVD extra disc, Hatfield says to the camera, "If anything happens to me, get it out to the press."
Hicks stated that Rove and other Bush campaign officials had cooperated with Hatfield in the research for his biography precisely because they knew of his criminal record. Hicks wrote:
When the media stumbled upon a story regarding George W. Bush's 1972 cocaine possession arrest, Rove had to find a way to kill the story. He did so by destroying the messenger.
According to Detective John Hubbard of the Bentonville, Arkansas Police Department, on July 17, 2001, the Police went to Hatfield's house to arrest him on charges of credit card fraud but they were unable to locate him.
On July 18, 2001, Hatfield's body was found by a hotel housekeeper in room 312 at a Days Inn in Springdale, Arkansas, an apparent suicide by prescription drug overdose. According to the police, notes were left listing alcohol, financial problems and Fortunate Son as reasons for killing himself.
- Fortunate Son: George W. Bush and the Making of an American President. (1999). Soft Skull Press. ISBN 1-887128-84-0 (third edition, 2002)
- Why would Osama bin Laden want to kill Dubya, his former business partner? by James Hatfield
- The Death of Jim Hatfield by David Cogswell
- Interview with James Hatfield, Democracy Now!
Horns and Halos
- Official site
- Horns and Halos at the Internet Movie Database
- Village Voice article about Horns and Halos