Magazine article The New Yorker

Cain's Ghosts

Magazine article The New Yorker

Cain's Ghosts

Article excerpt

Like many couples, Jerry and Deborah Strober have a few small but persistent disagreements. Deborah is a registered Republican, and Jerry is a registered Democrat. And Deborah has what she calls a "nasty little habit": she likes to have cable news nattering in the background, while Jerry prefers silence. Even so, they have been married for thirty years, and they have written ten books together, including "Reagan: The Man and His Presidency" and "Israel at 60." The Strobers, who are in their seventies, live in a tidy Upper East Side apartment, lined with books and photographs of their grandchildren. When they are working on a manuscript, they sit facing each other at a desk barely big enough for their mismatched laptops. "When you have a husband and wife working together the way we do, either it works beautifully or one or the other goes running into the street screaming," Jerry says. "I don't think there's any in-between."

It was Deborah's habit that led the Strobers to their most recent project. Watching Fox News this past spring, they came under the spell of an African-American businessman from Georgia who seemed convinced that his future included the Presidency. His name was Herman Cain, and the Strobers thought he might like to introduce himself to voters by way of a book. They sent a proposal to his campaign, and eventually received a call from the man himself. "This is Herman Cain," he said. "You have my voice." They spent five days on the road with him, in May, and turned their interviews into an autobiography, "This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House," which was published last month and landed at No. 4 on the Times best-seller list. Although the Strobers aren't credited as authors, Cain thanks them, in his acknowledgments, for "expert and professional assistance."

One recent afternoon, the Strobers seemed slightly surprised by the book's success, and much less surprised by Cain's position atop political polls. Deborah, a former actress, was wearing a sleeveless off-white blouse and a black skirt; Jerry, who has a white goatee and wore a plaid flannel shirt, wouldn't have looked out of place in certain parts of Brooklyn, where he grew up. Their professional commitment to Cain has become a personal one. "You want him to succeed, because you want people you like to succeed," Jerry said. "Now, granted, this isn't a small success we're talking about."

Deborah nodded at Jerry. She said, "I wake him up at three in the morning sometimes--"

Jerry interrupted. "She did! She said, 'Cain won the Nevada straw poll! …

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