Hannibal and Me: Title and Date

So I have them: the full title and the publication date.

(In fact, one of you has beaten me to it and found the nascent Amazon entry before I even knew it existed.)


Hannibal and Me: What History’s Greatest Military Strategist Can Teach Us About Success And Failure

Date: January 5th, 2012.

Yes, yes, I know that date seems rather late. What can I do? My publisher tells me that it was strategically chosen as the perfect time for this sort of book. So there.

Regarding the title: It’s quite ironic that my very first post on The Hannibal Blog, all the way back in summer of 2008 (my god, have I been at it this long?!), explained why Hannibal and Me is not the title. And now, it’s … the title after all.

Anyway, I’ll show you the jacket design soon. But feel free to weigh in on the title, from the gut.

34 thoughts on “Hannibal and Me: Title and Date

  1. The title, while prosaic, appears to be what your book will be about. This is perfect for imagination-attenuated book-browsers. We’ve had enough of catchy titles, is no doubt what your publishers thought.

    But, a book title is one thing. The other (arguably most important) thing is the cover illustration. Hopefully this’ll be eye-catching. Perhaps a brightly-coloured, sword-waving, blood-spattered Hulk Hogan-like warrior on an elephant?

    If I saw such an illustration on a book jacket, I couldn’t help but pick up the book out of curiosity.

    When are the Pulitzers announced each year? If close to the beginning, your publishing date of January 2012 is propitious.

    • Aha, so “prosaic” and “not catchy” is the first vote. I don’t disagree, I suppose. I think “straight-forward” is the alternative adjective: The subtitle tells you basically what you will get, and that’s a good thing with a slightly novel concept such as this (novel to anybody not brought up on Plutarch, hence almost everybody). 😉

      (That concept being: life lessons through comparative historical biography.)

      Incidentally, you have a good sense for the accompanying cover image. Basically, it does exactly what you describe. Curious what you’ll say when you see it.

  2. Congratulations, Andreas!

    The title is perfect and I know from personal experience and other writer friends’ experiences that Amazon puts its books out there 2 weeks ahead of publication more often than not.

    So now everyone can put your book on their holiday list! But do you miss not hanging out with your manuscript?

    • Thanks, Mary Jane.

      But I have a feeling I get to “hang out” with my manuscript a lot more before it’s all over. The publisher is suddenly having small armies of strangers “proof read” it, and each time I get the darn thing back and must scribble in the margins….

      A very, very odd process, this publishing business….

  3. Congratulations! I’m looking forward to January 2012.

    Regarding the title: ‘Hannibal and Me’ sounds as if the book focuses on how Hannibal’s story helped you deal with success and failure in your own life, which doesn’t seem to be the case. The subtitle explains it better.

    • Yes, I think you’re right, Susan:

      The “me” in Hannibal and Me is really YOU, ie the reader. But arguably that doesn’t matter, as long as it establishes the key relationship:

      ancient/epic = modern/ordinary > timeless

      the subtitle then “cleans up” by telling you what’s in hte book.

  4. January 5th. Perfect for Hannibal. Books about Alexander the Great should be published on the 7th; about Cyrus, on the 9th.

    So several other authors aren’t already using the and me conceit or some variation of it anymore?

    From the gut. Hmm. The subtitle scans poorly, and the combined title gives rise to two controversies right off the bat:

    (1) Some grammar wonks will bristle at Me as opposed to I.
    (2) Die-hard fans of other military strategists (Napoleon, Julius Caesar, etc.) will take umbrage at Hannibal being touted as the “greatest.”

    The only and me title I recall having read is Elvis and Me: The Intimate Story that Could Have Been Written Only By the Woman Who Lived It… (The three dots must have stood for and her ghostwriter, for the ghostwriter’s name was prominently featured on the cover, and it made no sense to insist that the book could have been written by one woman only and then put the names of two female authors on the cover.)

    Actually, I read that one in German, translated as Elvis und Ich rather than Elvis und Mich. Subtitle: Die Frau des legendären Stars erzählt.

    I predict that your title in German will be something like Hannibal und Ich: Erfolg und Niederlage aus der Sicht der Elefanten.

    • Well, as to (1), we sort of settled that. It’s OK. (By contrast, “Hannibal and I” would have been pompous and no more correct, thus disastrous.)

      (2) The “greatest” could indeed bring out one or two pedants, as could “strategist” (as opposed to “tactician”). I raised those points, but was told to get real. The reader will soon (in the book) find out just how great/ungreat a strategist he was. But on the cover, assume that some readers need reminding that we’re not talking about Lecter…

      And yes, apparently, the other writer(s) (I never found out who) at Riverhead or Penguin did not use the conceit “X and me”. Or perhaps he/she did. Who knows? All I know is Penguin changed their minds. (plural is correct).

      Den deutschen Titel nehme ich! 🙂

  5. Yeah, I’d like to have the science of that launch date decision explained to me. I am sure it’s fascinating and extremely subtle.

    Good luck with the book, glad it’s finally coming out. Must be a bit like the final stages of a pregnancy, eh?

  6. Well, what can I say Andreas, ALL has been said.

    Hence I send you my best congrats and, it must be said, ALL the pain you had in writing your book, you have passed unto us 😉

    Since, we became compassionate in the original Latin sense: cum (together) + passio (we did suffer).

    Which, after all, was fun and instructive and, after all this passion, I cannot but buy the book as soon as it is possible 😦 🙂 🙂 🙂

    And don’t mind my words. An old man, what has he left but wine and laughter, the former helping the latter lol? (actually I am moderate)


    Bonne Paque donc, or Happy Easter if you prefer – to you and your beloved ones.

    Hombre Romano

  7. I wish you the very best, Andreas and look forward to reading your book. Your transparency in all stages of its writing has been enlightening, to be sure. Maybe you have written this before and I missed it, but in what section of a bookstore will this book be categorized? History? Psychology?

    I will look forward to your posts about the marketing and sales of Hannibal and Me. I am especially interested in the eBook sales and how that works.

    Every writer writes to be read. Finally you will have the byline that the Economist won’t give you. 🙂

    Time to plant your tree. We are putting in olives this fall. Let me know if you want to plop one into the ground and then, my son, you’ll be a man!

    • I wish I knew, Cheri. That dreaded “which aisle?” conversation has hovered over me since I pitched this book. I haven’t the foggiest.

      Thanks for everything!

  8. Hi Andreas,

    I am very keen on how the cover illustration will look like. The cover of ‘Papillon’ by Henri Charrière is my personal favourite. It showed a butterfly in mid-air being pulled down by a huge chain tethered to its tail. (But I have not read the book)

    A friend suggests a see-saw on the cover for your book…

    • A seesaw. How interesting.

      Except it would be a metaphor, and I don’t take it up in the book.

      Philippe’s guess, above, comes pretty close, in terms of color, theme, etc. Except the tony is not gory but witty, almost a wink….

  9. Congratulations, Andreas.
    The title is easy to remember.

    If there’s an elephant on the jacket (or close up of the head showing the small eye) it will be eye-catching to a range of ages.

    • Yes, Geraldine: Elephant, with Hannibal on top, bearing down on little modern guy in suit and tie. On orange background. Much less ridiculous than it sounds, and in fact quite cute and striking….

    • Funny you should mention videos and podcasts and speeches, Kempton. Right now (ie, this week), our publicity folks at The Economist are taking me from one media event to the next to “market” my Special Report on California, which is on the cover and in the current issue. You might say it’s good practice, but it’s draining. I don’t know if I have the stamina for a book tour….

    • Abhishek, Thanks for the link to your Sept 2008 interview with Andreas. I’ve downloaded it and started to listen to it. The first few minutes sounded great.

      Andreas, I understand it is draining but I suppose it is good practice to “market” your Special Report now so you have more experience when it is time to promote your book on a book tour.

      What I am thinking is more in the line of what these two authors did that can been seen by more people online and can continue to help sell the books.

      For example, Alice Schroeder, author of “The Snowball – Warren Buffett and The Business of Life”, did a bunch of videos where she talks about the book and even give some additional historical video footage,


      William Poundstone, author of “Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)”, also did a series of videos talking about some ideas in his book,

      As a fan of these two books, I appreciate them and actually have written a few posts to plug the books.

  10. Congratulations, Andreas!

    Your journey of writing this book, captured so well in this blog, has been nothing short of enlightening and inspiring.

    While I certainly look forward to your book, I hope you are not forsaking this blog, now that the book is due for its release.

    • Thank you Kaushik!

      No danger of forsaking this blog, I’m glad to affirm. In fact, I will ramp it up. My original idea was to write about the book, ie about the stuff in it. But then my publishers told me to wait and not give too much away, so that’s when this blog turned into an “ideas” blog for intellectuals. But soon, I can actually start blogging about Hannibal, success and failure. 🙂

  11. But I have a feeling I get to “hang out” with my manuscript a lot more before it’s all over…

    So this is not the end? Nor perhaps even the beginning of the end.  But I daresay, it’s the end of the beginning. 


    I suspect the ideal location for your book would be in one of those upright cardboard fixtures at the store entrance, thence to “Bestsellers”, thence to “Classics”.

    • The “location” within a physical bookstore (are there any left besides B&N?) is a subject of great suspense to me, Jim M. I do wonder where they’ll put me, I mean, it.

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