NEW YORK — Kevin Trudeau, the million-selling author, infomercial star and convicted felon, swears that his new health guide, "More Natural 'Cures' Revealed," is 100 percent true.
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Make that 100 percent true "in essence."`
"My point is I don't want to be caught in what is true, what isn't true, what is opinion, what is an idea," Trudeau, whose self-published "Natural Cures 'They' Don't Want You to Know About," thrived despite his criminal past and other legal run-ins, said.
"More Natural Cures," released in May and also self-published, is a sequel to "Natural Cures," a defense of "Natural Cures" and an advertisement for "Natural Cures," which advocates that diseases from diabetes to cancer can be treated without drugs or medical procedures. His findings have been widely questioned by consumer groups and medical officials.
In the new book, Trudeau, who has no formal medical training, repeatedly urges readers to buy his previous book, and defends himself against the "continued onslaught and attacks from the government, the media and the worldwide pharmaceutical medical cartels." In a playful reference to disgraced memoirist James Frey and other fallen writers, Trudeau even includes a disclaimer: "On occasion, names, dates, and events have been changed or made up for fun."
'A work of fiction'
"This book is considered a work of fiction, yet inspired by a true story. Some truth is sprinkled in to spice things up," Trudeau writes in his new book. "It contains the opinions, theories, and conclusions of what some people call a 'raving lunatic, conspiracy theorist,' snake oil salesman, political activist, consumer advocate, believer in immortality and delusional fraudster."
Trudeau is kidding, sort of. He says that names, dates and events have indeed been altered, but adds that the medical advice is honest. "The essence of the book is that there are natural cures for disease," he told the AP.
In "More Natural Cures," Trudeau endorses vitamin E, daily walks and organic sea salts and warns against deodorants, celibacy and farm-raised fish. He again asserts that the medical industry fears him, likens himself to Erin Brockovich — the activist-whistleblower immortalized in the Julia Roberts movie — and includes quotations from Abraham Lincoln, Robert F. Kennedy and Norman Mailer. He even speculates about an assassination attempt — the wheels of his car, he discovered, were improperly attached and would have loosened at high speed.
Banned from infomercials
Trudeau says the new book has a first printing of 1 million, a reasonable figure given the success of "Natural Cures." But as of Thursday afternoon, "More Natural Cures" ranked just 914 on Amazon.com, and both major superstore chains, Borders and Barnes & Noble, Inc., reported disappointing sales, noting the absence of Trudeau's greatest marketing asset: infomercials.
"I wanted to put this book out and have absolutely zero promotion. I wanted to see how it would do by word of mouth," says Trudeau, adding that his previous book was "a pretty unique amoeba" that would "be pretty hard to top."
Trudeau's TV spots have brought him wealth and trouble. In 2004, he reached a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission banning him from infomercials "that advertise any type of product, service, or program to the public, except for truthful infomercials for informational publications," according to the FTC.
"This ban is meant to shut down an infomercial empire that has misled American consumers for years," the FTC said when the settlement was announced, referring to various other products Trudeau has endorsed over the years, including an infomercial the FTC said gave misleading information on coral calcium as a cancer cure.
Trudeau was able to air infomercials for "Natural Cures" and says a new round would soon come out for "More Natural Cures." He alleges that 900 "independent stations" will show them, but could not name a specific channel when asked by the AP. An FTC official, Heather Hippsley, said the commission will be monitoring any advertisements.
"He cannot be misleading about the content of the book," said Hippsley, an assistant director in the FTC's division of advertising practices. "And he can't use infomercials to sell specific products outside of his book."
Trouble dating back to 1990
His legal record runs beyond infomercials. He pleaded guilty to larceny in 1990 in Massachusetts after being charged with depositing $80,000 in worthless checks. The following year, he pleaded guilty to credit-card fraud in federal district court and was sentenced to nearly two years in prison. The charges involved the use of credit-card numbers from customers of a memory-improvement course Trudeau was promoting, according to court records.
"Maybe I'm not the best messenger for what I'm trying to say, but I'm the only messenger," Trudeau says. "And I still have the right to ... expose ... fraud and deceit in government and how the drug companies lie to us."
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