WASHINGTON — Former California congressman Gary Condit has penned an "explosive" book that will "leave readers startled," his co-author said in an interview Friday.
Co-author Breton Peace said the Condit book will be published once prosecutors have finished trying the man accused of killing former Modesto resident Chandra Levy. The title is still under wraps, but the themes are already fleshed out, including an emphasis on the enduring marriage between Condit and his wife, Carolyn.
"In the end, it's about what kept Gary alive — Carolyn Condit," Peace said in an e-mail Friday. "It's a love story that puts all of the bad things that have happened in this country over the past decade into a common perspective."
Peace indicated the book had been in the works for more than two years. He said Condit, "out of respect for the ongoing prosecution," insisted that publication be withheld until the trial of accused killer Ingmar Guandique concludes.
Guandique's defense attorneys will present witnesses Monday, with closing arguments expected Tuesday or Wednesday.
Prosecutors say Guandique killed the 24-year-old Levy on May 1, 2001, in Washington's Rock Creek Park. At the time of her disappearance, Levy had finished her graduate studies and a federal Bureau of Prisons internship.
Levy had also "had an affair" with Condit, Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines told jurors at the start of the trial Oct. 25. Forensic evidence was subsequently presented linking Condit's DNA to sperm found inside a pair of Levy's panties.
"It matched his DNA profile from his known sample," FBI forensics examiner Alan Giusti testified.
Condit's relationship with Levy helped rivet attention to her disappearance in the first place, and it still draws media attention to Guandique's trial. During two hours of testimony, Condit said he didn't kill Levy, criticized police and refused to say whether he'd had an affair with the much younger woman.
"I do believe we are entitled to some level of privacy," Condit insisted.
Condit's resistance on the witness stand leaves unclear how he'll handle the Levy affair in his book. Peace said the manuscript is "not really what anyone is going to expect at all," suggesting it will be surprising in its reach. He first discussed the book with a Washington news website called TBD.
"It's not a tell-all book or a rehash of things everyone already knows," Peace said in an e-mail. "It's about politics and war. It's about a botched murder investigation. It's about the absurd way in which we now create and distribute information."
The war is apparently the one begun Sept. 11, 2001. A former member of the House intelligence committee, Condit appeared to tear up on the stand at only one point — when he was recounting the 9/11 terrorist attacks. That day, he said, the television crews that had been hounding him abruptly disappeared.
Peace is a San Diego-based attorney, educated at Stanford and the University of Michigan Law School. His father, Steve Peace, served with Condit in the California Assembly during the 1980s, when both were members of the "Gang of Five" alliance that opposed then-Assembly Speaker Willie Brown.
Peace said he originally agreed to help Condit try to organize the manuscript. After some initial work, and after consulting with prominent Los Angeles attorney Bert Fields, Peace said he and Condit decided to "have a go at writing the whole thing."
The book is fleshed out with "extensive records" maintained by Condit and his attorneys, Peace said; he said these include "private communications" that will be made public.
"It's about how high-profile institutions and individuals participated in all this, and then tried to cover it up," Peace said. "It's a tragedy that ensnared a lot of people; most significantly, Chandra Levy."
McClatchy Newspapers 2010