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Germany: Schroeder Throws The Book At Bush, Praises Putin

Gerhard Schroeder (right) shares a laugh with Russian President Vladimir Putin (file photo) (CTK) PRAGUE, October 26, 2006 -- Controversy sells. And the political memoirs of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder are selling well.

That’s because they’re anything but bland and diplomatic.

Many of the famous personalities Schroeder mentions in “Decisions: My Life In Politics” -- be they German politicians or world leaders -- come off negatively.

Tough Words For Bush, Cheney

Schroeder portrays Putin as a modest and disciplined leader with what he says is “one of the hardest jobs on Earth.”

Schroeder, who fell out with U.S. President George W. Bush over Iraq, paints the U.S. leader as a religious fanatic. He writes that he got the impression Bush made his decisions based on what Bush thought were conversations with God.

He has even stronger words for U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, calling his views on foreign policy “a string of mistaken judgments.”

Schroeder has equal scorn for some of his fellow German Social Democrats, as well as opposition figures.

That partly explains the cold reaction to the book from Schroeder’s former colleagues.

Former Social Democrat and trade-union leader Ursula Engelen-Kefer says that, before criticizing everyone else, Schroeder could use some introspection.

"I think it would be better if one considered where one's own problems are, how did they come about, and how could they be solved," she said. "Such acts don't help anyone."

Juergen Ruettgers, the Christian Democratic premier of Germany’s North-Rhine Westphalia state, also took a swipe at Schroeder.

"[Formula 1 driver] Michael Schumacher has shown how you really end a career properly," Ruettgers said.

Putin Garners Praise

Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the few people that Schroeder praises in his memoir is Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The two enjoyed a close working relationship. Too close, according to Schroeder’s critics, who have blasted the former chancellor for accepting a lucrative job as board chairman of a German-Russian gas pipeline consortium -- less than a month after leaving office.

In his book, Schroeder portrays Putin as a modest and disciplined leader with what he says is “one of the hardest jobs on Earth.”

The controversy surrounding Schroeder’s book has only boosted sales. And that means Schroeder is likely to have the last laugh.

The initial print run of 120,000 copies has already been raised to 160,000 copies -- even before the book's official release on October 27.

Unconfirmed reports say Schroeder received an advance of some 1 million euros ($1.26 million) from publishers Hoffmann und Campe for the book.