U of T prof's own Fire and Fury book a bestseller thanks to Donald Trump

A University of Toronto professor's 10-year-old book is back on the bestseller list thanks to rampant public interest in Capitol Hill tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Buyers may have purchased Hansen's book by mistake, but the prof hopes they learn from it anyway

Randall Hansen wrote on the viciousness of war in 2008, when the University of Toronto professor chronicled a period of intense bombing by Allied forces on Germany during the Second World War. (Supplied by Randall Hansen)

A University of Toronto professor's 10-year-old book is back on the bestseller list thanks to rampant public interest in Capitol Hill tell-all Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.

Randall Hansen, interim director at the Munk School of Global Affairs, wrote his own Fire and Fury to chronicle an Allied bombing campaign on German civilians during the Second World War.

The similarity in titles between Hansen's book and Michael Wolff's instant bestseller about U.S. President Donald Trump means both get called up in an online search.

CBC's Heather Hiscox chats with the Toronto author about his book, written a decade before Wolff's Trump book:

Canadian author's Fire and Fury book surges in sales

5 years ago
Duration 4:43
CBC's Heather Hiscox chats with Toronto author about WW II book written a decade before Trump book

While Hansen dug into 1940s military history in his 2008 read, Wolff's book portrays Trump as a leader who doesn't understand the weight of his office and whose competence is questioned by aides.

The latter has seen "unprecedented demand" running up to its release on Friday, according to the publisher, and has since latched onto the top spot on Amazon's bestseller list.

The similarity apparently also confused or enticed more than a few buyers into ordering Hansen's book, landing it in the top 100 in three of Amazon's sales categories. 

'I had a chuckle'

Attending a conference in Washington, D.C., itself when Wolff's book was released, Hansen joked with colleagues about the titular similarities.

"I was hearing Fire and Fury left and centre and perking up a little bit," he said, but aside from gentle amusement thought little of the coincidence. 

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff has seen 'unprecedented' success since its release on Friday, and a Toronto professor found himself caught up in the storm. (Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press)

Later on Friday night, he searched for the title on a whim, surprised to see his 2008 book featured on Amazon alongside Wolff's new release.

"I saw that my book, which came out 10 years ago and had been languishing for quite a while in terms of sales numbers, was suddenly in three Amazon bestseller lists," he said. "I had a chuckle to myself."

'Ironic' coincidence

Hansen tweeted casually about his work's resurgence on Friday when he noticed sales were up, but woke up on Saturday to another surprise — the tweet went viral.

Hansen, who describes himself as a "devout critic" of Trump and the president's former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, can't put his finger on why, but he hinted at another possible cause of his boosted sales. 

Some may have found it amusing, he guessed, "that someone like me was benefiting from something, published with Bannon's help, about Trump."

More seriously, Hansen said, the book's renewed popularity might highlight the time-worn risks of relying on military force, even though the two tomes have little else in common. 

A screen capture of some of the latest reviews of Hansen's book, which he suspects may have either confused some buyers or sparked their interest in military history. (Amazon)

Hansen argued that the bombing campaign against Hitler's Germany that killed half a million civilians was "needless," and hopes Fire and Fury: The Allied Bombing of Germany, 1942-1945 can highlight the immutable consequences of war for the book's newest readers.

"If at this moment we have this unstable demagogue as president — who loves threatening war, and saying, 'My nukes are bigger than your nukes," and all this rubbish — if at this moment people reflect through my book on the utter horror of war, what it does to human bodies, its appalling consequences above all for civilians, then that'll be both politically important but also gratifying."

With files from the Canadian Press