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The Report From Iron Mountain is a book, published in 1967 (during the Johnson Administration) by Dial Press, that states that it is the report of a government panel. The book includes the claim that it was authored by a Special Study Group of fifteen men whose identities were to remain secret, and that it was not intended to be made public. The best selling book purportedly details the analyses and conclusions of a government panel that states that war, or a credible substitute for war, is necessary for governments to maintain power. Report from Iron Mountain was on the New York Times bestseller list and was translated into fifteen different languages. Controversy exists concerning whether the book is the result of a hoax authored by Leonard Lewin or the real result of a secret government panel.

Contents

Publishing history

The book was first published in 1967 by Dial Press, and went out of print in 1980. E. L. Doctorow, then an editor at Dial, and Dial president Richard Baron agreed with Lewin and Navasky to list the book as nonfiction and to turn aside questions about its authenticity by citing the footnotes.[1]

Simon & Schuster later brought out another edition under their Free Press imprint. Liberty Lobby also put out an edition, claiming that it was a U.S. government document, and therefore inherently in the public domain; Lewin sued them for copyright infringement, which resulted in a settlement. According to the New York Times, "Neither side would reveal the full terms of the settlement, but Lewin received more than a thousand copies of the bootlegged version." (Kifner, 1999)

Contents of the report

According to the report, a 15-member panel, called the Special Study Group, was set up in 1963 to examine what problems would occur if the U.S. entered a state of lasting peace. They met at an underground nuclear bunker called Iron Mountain (as well as other, worldwide locations) and worked over the next two years. A member of the panel, one "John Doe", a professor at a college in the Midwest, decided to release the report to the public.

The heavily footnoted report concluded that peace was not in the interest of a stable society, that even if lasting peace "could be achieved, it would almost certainly not be in the best interests of society to achieve it." War was a part of the economy. Therefore, it was necessary to conceive a state of war for a stable economy. The government, the group theorized, would not exist without war, and nation states existed in order to wage war. War also served a vital function of diverting collective aggression. They recommended that bodies be created to emulate the economic functions of war. They also recommended "blood games" and that the government create alternative foes that would scare the people with reports of alien life-forms and out of control pollution. Another proposal was the reinstitution of slavery.

Reaction by Lyndon Johnson

U.S. News and World Report claimed in its November 20, 1967 issue to have confirmation of the reality of the report from an unnamed government official, who added that when President Johnson read the report, he 'hit the roof' and ordered it to be suppressed for all time. Additionally, sources were said to have revealed that orders were sent to U.S. embassies, instructing them to emphasize that the book had no relation to U.S. Government policy.[2]

Hoax or real?

In 1996, Jon Elliston wrote that the book is generally believed to be a hoax authored by one man, Leonard Lewin,[3] and the book was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Literary Hoax." Some claim that the book is genuine and has only been called a hoax in order to discredit it. Trans-Action devoted an issue to the debate over the book. Esquire magazine published a 28,000-word excerpt. (Kifner, 1999)

In the March 19 1972 edition of the New York Times Book Review, Lewin took credit for writing the book.

Consistent with the belief that the book is the result of a hoax, the idea for the Report came from Victor Navasky. In 1966, Navasky, then editor of the satiric Monocle magazine, read an article in the New York Times about a stock market downturn due to a "peace scare". This gave him an idea for a report that would get people thinking about a peacetime economy and the futility of the arms race. With these aims in mind, Lewin wrote the book.

Some who state that the book is authentic cite statements made by Harvard professor John Kenneth Galbraith in support of their claims.

On November 26, 1976, the report was reviewed in the book section of the Washington Post by Herschel McLandress, which was the pen name for Harvard professor John Kenneth Galbraith. Galbraith said that he knew firsthand of the report's authenticity because he had been invited to participate in it. Although he was unable to be part of the official group, he was consulted from time to time and had been asked to keep the project a secret. Furthermore, while he doubted the wisdom of letting the public know about the report, he agreed totally with its conclusions.

He wrote: 'As I would put my personal repute behind the authenticity of this document, so would I testify to the validity of its conclusions. My reservation relate only to the wisdom of releasing it to an obviously unconditioned public.'[4]

Six weeks later, in an Associated Press dispatch from London, Galbraith went even further and jokingly admitted that he was a member of the conspiracy. [5] The following day, Galbraith backed off. When asked about his 'conspiracy' statement, he replied: 'For the first time since Charles II The Times has been guilty of a misquotation... Nothing shakes my conviction that it was written by either Dean Rusk or Mrs. Clare Booth Luce. '[6]

The original reporter reported the following six days later: 'Misquoting seems to be a hazard to which Professor Galbraith is prone. The latest edition of the Cambridge newspaper Varsity quotes the following (tape recorded) interchange: 'Interviewer: 'Are you aware of the identity of the author of Report from Iron Mountain?' Galbraith: 'I was in general a member of the conspiracy, but I was not the author. I have always assumed that it was the man who wrote the foreword - Mr. Lewin[7]

Those who state that the book is really the report of a government panel state that on at least three occasions, Galbraith publicly endorsed the authenticity of the report, but denied that he wrote it.

See also

  • Iron Mountain Incorporated, company that operates a deep underground storage facility in Pennsylvania where an unknown quantity of government documents are housed.

References

  1. ^ John Kifner, "L. C. Lewin, Writer of Satire Of Government Plot, Dies at 82" (obituary), New York Times Late Edition (East Coast), Jan 30, 1999. pg. A.11.
  2. ^ Hoax of Horror? A Book That Shook White House, U.S. News & World Report, November 20, 1967
  3. ^ Jon Elliston, “Report from Iron Mountain: Highbrow Hoax Mocks National Security Speak,” Copyright 1996, Parascope, Inc,
  4. ^ News of War and Peace You're Not Ready For., by Herschel McLandress. Book World, in The Washington Post, November 26, 1967, p. 5.
  5. ^ The Times Diary', The Times, February 5, 1968, p. 8.
  6. ^ Gailbraith Says He Was Misquoted,' The Times, February 6, 1968, p. 3.
  7. ^ Touche, Professor,' The Times, February 12, 1968, p. 8.

External links

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