Letting Katz out of the Bag

Via the Sidebar, Peter M. Heimlich (son of Henry J. Heimlich) asks whether a prominent Yale professor and Huffington Post columnist reviewed his own book on Amazon. The review, which awarded a total of five shiny gold stars: 

I found the writing- prose that nonetheless managed to hint at epic poetry- as enthralling as the story was riveting. In reVision, Colleen McCullough meets John Milton; Yeats meets Yourcenar. In the blend of rollicking adventure with utopian aspiration, J.K. Rowling meets Gene Roddenberry. Where characters are vividly rendered and complex ideas distilled to stunningly simple clarities, Dickens meets Dawkins. As a clash of other worlds illuminates the better ways our world might be, Plato’s Republic meets Lord of the Rings. Where lyrically beautiful writing and deep currents of humanism traverse expanses of law and folklore, science and faith, passion and politics- the Bible, Bill of Rights, and Bhagavad Gita commingle. I love a good epic adventure, and had a great deal of fun reading reVision- falling in love with several characters along the way. But I also finished with a sense of illumination from a deep source – and the gift of fewer shadows in my corners. The most opportune comparison may be to truly great wine. There are depths and complexities to reward those inclined to seek them. But there is also a great and simple pleasure, readily accessible to all. 

This puffed-up appraisal reappeared in the Huffington Post two days after its Amazon debut, buried nine paragraphs deep within a book review by David Katz, M.D. The book under review, titled reVision: Lore of the Corners Trilogy, was supposedly authored by one Samhu L. Iyyam. The sub-heading on the review reveals the truth:

Update April 1, 2014: Samhu Iyyam is a pseudonym of David Katz, M.D. reVision is his work.

Poor Professor Katz, blowing his own trumpet to an audience of one. But what a glorious sound! Comparisons with Milton, Yeats, Dickens and Plato aren’t quite good enough. The book resides on a higher plane, where the Bible, the Bill of Rights and Bhagavad Gita “commingle.” Signing-off (“-fin”), he likens his masterwork to a “truly great wine.”  

Ethically, whether or not David Katz the Amazon user is revealed as David Katz the Huffington Post columnist, it’s hard to imagine how a doctor and university professor could sink any lower. Financially, he could probably do worse. Heimlich, professional fraud hunter, is on the case.

To: amazon-pr@amazon.com
Subject: blogger inquiry re: book review
From: Peter Heimlich
Date: 9/30/2015 3:47 PM

Public Relations

To whom it may concern:

I’m blogging an item about what may be a problematic book review posted on your site. I’d appreciate you reviewing the following information and answering two quick questions.

Here’s a screen shot I just took of a February 16, 2014 Amazon review by David L. Katz of a book of fiction entitled reVision: Lore of the Corners Trilogy, Book 1 by Samhu L. Iyyam:

14-2-16 David Katz review of reVision

Here are screenshots I just took from a February 18, 2014 Huffington Post column entitled To See By Common Light by David Katz MD — red rectangles added by yours truly.

14-4-1 HuffPo update id of Samhu HL

14-2-18 HuffPo pull HL

The red-lassoed text above is identical to the Amazon review published two days before. Therefore, Amazon user David L. Katz may be Huffington Post columnist David L. Katz MD, a prominent author, physician and professor at Yale.

Here are my questions. Would you please determine if the reviewer is Dr. Katz? And if so, does his Amazon review of reVision comply with your company’s guidelines?

Thanks for your time/consideration and I look forward to your reply, preferably by Tuesday, October 6. If you need more time, please advise and I’ll do my best to accommodate.

Cheers, Peter.

Note that Amazon has verified Katz’ purchase of his own book and wonder what drives a professional of note to such unprofessional lengths. Guess we’ll have to wait and see. 


3 thoughts on “Letting Katz out of the Bag”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s