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About Eric Dezenhall
Eric Dezenhall is an author of eleven books, including three non-fiction texts on crisis communications and corporate witch hunts, journalist and damage control expert based in Washington, D.C. He is the CEO of Dezenhall Resources, a nationally recognized high stakes communications firm. He frequently lectures in academic and business circles, and regularly appears as a damage control expert in the international media. He has appeared on network television and radio outlets including NPR, CNN, FOX, CNBC, and MSNBC; and has been quoted in publications including Fortune, USA Today, Forbes, and the Washington Post. He has written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, and writes for the Daily Beast and Huffington Post.
Eric's books have been widely cited in business, media and academic circles. In addition to his non-fiction books he is also the author of seven novels. His seventh novel, False Light, is a thrilling tale of revenge set against the vibrant backdrop of sensationalist modern media. A seasoned reporter embarks on an entertaining and complex plan to exact revenge on a predatory media star in the court of public opinion. Eric is a graduate of Dartmouth College, where he studied political science and the news media. He lives near Washington, D.C., with his family.
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Books By Eric Dezenhall
In 1978, CIA maverick Jack Platt and KGB agent Gennady Vasilenko were new arrivals on the Washington, DC intelligence scene, with Jack working out of the CIA's counterintelligence office and Gennady out of the Soviet Embassy. Both men, already notorious iconoclasts within their respective agencies, were assigned to seduce the other into betraying his country in the urgent final days of the Cold War, but instead the men ended up becoming the best of friends-blood brothers. Theirs is a friendship that never should have happened, and their story is chock full of treachery, darkly comic misunderstandings, bureaucratic inanity, the Russian Mafia, and landmark intelligence breakthroughs of the past half century.
In Best of Enemies, two espionage cowboys reveal how they became key behind-the-scenes players in solving some of the most celebrated spy stories of the twentieth century, including the crucial discovery of the Soviet mole Robert Hanssen, the 2010 Spy Swap which freed Gennady from Soviet imprisonment, and how Robert De Niro played a real-life role in helping Gennady stay alive during his incarceration in Russia after being falsely accused of spying for the Americans. Through their eyes, we see the distinctions between the Russian and American methods of conducting espionage and the painful birth of the new Russia, whose leader, Vladimir Putin, dreams he can roll back to the ideals of the old USSR.
Why the 1982 Tylenol cyanide-poisoning case is always cited as the best model for damage control, when in fact it has no relevance to the typical corporate crisis.
Why Audi never fully recovered from driver accusations of sudden acceleration”despite evidence that nothing was wrong with their cars.
What the crises faced by George W. Bush, Jim McGreevey, Sammy Sosa, Lance Armstrong, Martha Stewart, Coca-Cola, and the Catholic Church have in common . . . and what they don’t.
This new revised edition includes an additional chapter "Our Permanent Leakocracy" including information about WikiLeaks and what that notorious case means for business.
A thrilling tale of revenge set against the vibrant backdrop of sensationalist modern media
Seasoned reporter Sanford “Fuse” Petty is old-school in every way—anti-technology, anti-Millennial (don’t even mention Gen-Z), and anti-“gotcha” journalism. After Fuse is asked to leave his paper pending a disciplinary investigation, he has plenty of time on his hands. So when his oldest friend approaches him for advice after the man’s daughter says she was sexually assaulted by her boss, a prominent media star, Fuse agrees to help. He gives his buddy the only options he feels are available: report the incident to the police and risk a huge “he said/she said” smear campaign against the girl, or plan something even better—revenge.
As a journalist, Fuse has a colorful background investigating criminals, politicians, gangsters, drug lords, and all-around shysters—and knows plenty of shady sources—so he’s the perfect person to enact a complex (and ultimately, entertaining) plan to bring the popular media mogul down in the court of public opinion . . . and make him pay.
In boxing terms, a tough-looking fighter who can't take a punch is said to have a "glass jaw," and so it is these days with targets of controversy. Down the rabbit hole of scandal, the weak are strong and the strong are weak. Just consider this slate of recent reputational body blows: Toyota, Susan G. Komen, Paula Deen, Tiger Woods, Joe Paterno, BP, the Duke Lacrosse players, Lance Armstrong, and Anthony Weiner. Glass Jaw is a manifesto for these times, written by crisis management veteran Eric Dezenhall, who has spent three decades dealing with some of the most intense controversies, both known and . . . handled with discretion. In the current digital age, the fundamental nature of controversy is viral, rendering once-mighty organizations and individuals powerless against scandal. In Glass Jaw, Dezenhall analyzes scandal and demystifies the paper tiger "spin" industry, offering lessons, corrective measures, and counterintuitive insights, such as: How there really is no "getting ahead" of a bad story (and other cliches from the media) The perils of navigating the "Fiasco Vortex" The art (and transaction) of the public apology Why a crisis is not an opportunity The Nixon Fallacy: if only he had just said "I screwed up," the whole thing would have gone away (not a chance) How you are the enemy: the self-sabotage of selfies, tweets, emailing before thinking, technology creep, the privacy vacuum, and the industrialization of leaking. From the boardroom to the parenting messaging board, scandals erupt every day. Glass Jaw explains this changing nature of controversy and offers readers counterpunches to best protect themselves.
Based on real events, The Devil Himself is a high-energy novel of military espionage and Mafia justice.
"I'll talk to anybody, a priest, a bank manager, a gangster, the devil himself, if I can get the information I need. This is a war." -- Lt. Commander Charles Radcliffe Haffenden, Naval Intelligence Unit, B-3
In late 1982, a spike in terrorism has the Reagan Administration considering covert action to neutralize the menace before it reaches the United States. There are big risks to waging a secret war against America's enemies---but there is one little-known precedent.
Forty years earlier, German U-boats had been prowling the Atlantic, sinking hundreds of U.S. ships along the east coast, including the largest cruise ship in the world, Normandie, destroyed at a Manhattan pier after Pearl Harbor. Nazi agents even landed on Long Island with explosives and maps of railways, bridges, and defense plants. Desperate to secure the coast, the Navy turned to Meyer Lansky, the Jewish Mob boss. A newly naturalized American whose fellow Eastern European Jews were being annihilated by Hitler, Lansky headed an unlikely fellowship of mobsters Lucky Luciano, Bugsy Siegel, Frank Costello, and naval intelligence officers.
Young Reagan White House aide Jonah Eastman, grandson of Atlantic City gangster Mickey Price, is approached by the president's top advisor with an assignment: Discreetly interview his grandfather's old friend Lansky about his wartime activities. There just might be something to learn from that secret operation.
The notoriously tight-lipped gangster, dying of cancer, is finally ready to talk. Jonah gets a riveting---and darkly comic---history lesson. The Mob caught Nazi agents, planted propaganda with the help of columnist Walter Winchell, and found Mafia spies to plot the invasion of Sicily, where General Patton was poised to strike at the soft underbelly of the Axis. Lansky's men stopped at nothing to sabotage Hitler's push toward American shores.
THE GOVERNOR: "Rebound" Rothman -- married, family-values New Jersey Republican with White House fantasies, a terrible secret, and a controversial position on young interns: He's for 'em.
THE TART: Simone Lava, the voluptuous Miss Little Egg Harbor Township. Rebound keeps her hidden away in Atlantic City's seedy Celebrity Motel where she practices waving like a First Lady -- a title she's been promised, if she'll just lay low during election season.
THE FIXER: Jackie Disaster, an ex-boxer who runs the Jersey shore's most ruthless damage-control firm. Jackie digs up the macabre truth about the governor.
THE POLLSTER: Jonah Eastman, maverick political strategist raised by his mobster grandfather, who gave Rebound his start. Jonah knows only one thing can save the congenitally deceitful governor: A whopping, heartfelt lie.
Shakedown Beach rips open the slats of the Atlantic City boardwalk to impart the big lesson of American politics: When forced to look into one's soul and confront the painful truths of murder, corruption and sexual depravity, don't be a schmuck -- hire the nastiest operatives money can buy and duck, dodge and spin to November.
From his curved-glass desk in a casino overlooking the Atlantic City boardwalk, Jackie "Disaster" Sesto—an ex-welterweight boxing champ and former top flack for the Atlantic City Police Department—has a great view of the hustlers he now makes his living nailing.
Jackie runs Allegation Sciences, a crisis management firm known for helping businesses with uncomfortably public problems. That's why Sally Naturale, America's deliciously loathsome doyenne of good taste and wholesome living, hires him after a pregnant South Jersey woman blames her miscarriage on Sally's organic soy milk.
Jackie doesn't buy the poor woman's story and, worse, he doesn't buy Sally Naturale's version either. His suspicions are confirmed when assassins from the Jersey Pine Barrens try to kill him one night in his sleep.
So with his band of subversives (a.k.a. the Imps), Jackie embarks on a gonzo damage control campaign to vindicate Sally and catch the folks who are trying to drag him down with her.
In turns suspenseful and hilarious, Jackie Disaster is a spin-till-you're dizzy dance through the mysteries of media manipulation and South Jersey.
When a gorgeous woman appears at the gates of the White House bearing a mysterious letter, disgraced Presidential Press Secretary and professional spinmeister Jonah Eastman knows that his past has finally caught up with him. Raised by a Jewish mobster in Atlantic City, Jonah was only seventeen when he met Claudine Polk, an unabashed Southern belle, and placed her on an unshakable pedestal for one glorious summer of reckless youth and first love.
Now Claudine desperately needs Jonah's help to save Rattle & Snap, her family's plantation in Tennessee, from the hands of her crooked soon-to-be-ex-husband. Jonah must use all of his connections, from shady undercover agents to the President himself, to engage in Operation Dixie Knish and save his Southern belle's ancestral home.
A perfect mix of "The West Wing," "The Godfather," and Gone with the Wind, Spinning Dixie is an epic novel full of adventure, romance, and unforgettable characters that will have readers laughing out loud.
TURNPIKE FLAMEOUT is a black comic ride through the underbelly of mega-stardom and the spins employed by handlers to ensure that crime pays. Quite well, actually.
When a private jet crashes in the New Jersey Pine Barrens on the Fourth of July, the search begins for faded rock and roller, Turnpike Bobby Chin. The singer suspiciously survives and turns up wandering in the haunted woods. Soon after, a celebrity sculptor vanishes after unveiling his unflattering statue of the star. The cops say it's homicide, and make plans to bust Turnpike Bobby.
When the media circus begins, gangland-bred pollster Jonah Eastman is hired to devise a "P.A.S." (Plausible Alternative Scenario) for the sculptor's death. A beautiful au pair vanishes from Atlantic City, and it's all the media want to talk about – not Bobby. Which angers Bobby because he hasn't gotten this much attention since the Reagan Administration. As he works to vindicate the rocker, Jonah enters the inner-sanctum of the celebrity icon, a world so seductive and lethal that Jonah waxes nostalgic for his days working for the Mafia.
That's the threat made against Eric Dezenhall's clients - usually corporations and well-known people - by aggressors trying to launch media-hyped smear campaigns and attacks because they feel they've been wronged, or just because they want publicity. From Pepsi and ValuJet to Michael Ovitz and Kathy Lee Gifford, businesses and celebrities today are finding themselves the front-line targets of attacks by the headline-seekers, the news media, corporate stalkers, disgruntled former employees, individuals looking for a few minutes of fame, and many others. And it's crisis managers like Dezenhall who step in to reduce the damage, fight the bad publicity, and sometimes even turn the wave of negative opinion on the attackers themselves.
Nail 'Em! is an exploration of the personalities, conflicts, and motivations involved in such attacks and Dezenhall's unique communications approach to slowing, preventing, and reversing such situations. While illustrating that these attacks are not merely communications problems, but real conflicts that can only be stopped when the aggressor is placed in jeopardy, the author examines the psychology of the attacker, notorious recent cases, his personal experiences, facts versus falsehoods, the role of the news media, and the popularity of victims in contemporary America. Nail 'Em! lays out a blueprint for reclaiming the public's good favor while erasing the attacker's allegations.
Jonah Eastman, disgraced Presidential pollster, is summoned home to Atlantic City by his ailing grandfather Mickey Price--a legendary Atlantic City gangster and owner of the Golden Prospect casino. When Mickey dies, Jonah is "persuaded" by mob boss Mario Vanni to help improve his image by launching a misinformation campaign aimed at gaining public acceptance and ultimately a way "outta the life."
So Jonah goes to war through a comical and audacious manipulation of the media which includes online rumoring, exploiting romantic myths of the mob, and orchestrating a union-backed pseudo-vigil after Vanni is arrested. To pull off these stunts, he enlists the help of his grandfather's Prohibition-era cronies, pimply-faced hackers, a disgruntled Secret Service agent, a cagey Washington lobbyist, a slick Philadelphia publicist, and a street-fighting rabbi.
Money Wanders is a wild and uproarious tour of spin and media manipulation from the lobbied halls of Congress to the dilapidated boardwalk of Atlantic City.