Few fledgling authors have received a ringing endorsement from a former president. Unlike Ian Klaus, they didn't date Chelsea Clinton.
"In Elvis Is Titanic, Ian Klaus tells the extraordinary story of his time teaching in Iraqi Kurdistan," Bill Clinton says in an e-mail to USA TODAY.
"He shows how much very different people can learn from each other through shared experiences. A fine book by an exceptional young man."
In 2005, Klaus, 28, spent a semester teaching English and American history at Salahaddin University in Arbil. Elvis Is Titanic (Knopf, $24), just published, is an account of his time there.
The former president's Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World, also from Knopf, is on sale next week.
Klaus and Chelsea met at Oxford University in England, where he, like the former president, was a Rhodes Scholar. They dated from late 2001 to 2005. He dedicated his book "To my mother and Chelsea, for understanding."
"The dedication just reflects an immense gratitude I have for (Chelsea's) friendship," Klaus says, "but also for her being an intellectual and an incredible person to share ideas with."
Elvis Is Titanic is an illuminating look into the hearts and minds of students in this city 300 miles north of Baghdad.
The title comes from a discussion Klaus had with them about Western music. They had never heard of The Beatles or Frank Sinatra, but they knew about Elvis Presley. "Of course," one student said, "we know who Elvis is. Elvis is Titanic (a reference to the hit movie). He is like Titanic of music.
George Andreou, Klaus' editor at Knopf, says he knew of Klaus' connection to the Clintons before reading his book proposal. "I'm an avid reader of the tabloids and the first to admire anyone's amatory résumé, but that didn't figure into the process. Obviously, he has an interesting story to tell, and he's a talented writer."
The book has been well received. Booklist called it "engaging."
Klaus, now working on his doctorate in international history at Harvard, writes briefly about his discomfort when it became public that "Chelsea Clinton's boyfriend" was working in Iraq. "If I had had my way, it never would have come out," he says.
Was it difficult to be in the spotlight during their relationship?
"You're talking about weighing a relationship with a wonderful person vs. the media attention," he says. "It was just an easy choice."
Chelsea, 27, is now in a relationship with childhood friend Marc Mezvinsky. Asked whether he's dating anyone, Klaus says: "I am enjoying my private life being private."