Ex-Columnist's Lies May Haunt New Book

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Harcourt Brace would seem to have a major p.r. headache on its hands. The coauthor of one of its lead fall titles, "Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery," is Patricia Smith, the Boston Globe columnist who was asked to resign in June after she was found to have fabricated four columns. Harcourt executive editor Jane Isay says the firm still plans to publish the book, which was coauthored with novelist Charles Johnson and is the companion to a PBS series. "She is a wonderful writer. Her prose is riveting," says Isay, who nonetheless concedes that Harcourt Brace was forced to recheck the whole book after the scandal broke. "It's been vetted and vetted," she says. "The footnotes were double-checked." Let's hope that's enough. Last week the Globe said there are still 52 columns by Smith that it cannot confirm. Why would Smith be so accurate with Harcourt Brace and so loose with the Globe? "You'd have to ask her," says Isay.