139 East 35th Street
New York City
November 28, 1943
Mr. Earle H. Balch
G. P. Putnam’s Sons
2 West 45th Street
New York City
Dear Mr. Balch:
To supplement our recent conversation, I am writing this to urge upon you my conviction on the tremendous historical importance and the great commercial possibilities of “The God of the Machine” by Isabel Paterson.
“The God of the Machine” is the greatest book written in the last three hundred years. It is the first complete statement of the philosophy of individualism as a political and economic system. It is the basic document of capitalism.
No historical movement has ever succeeded without a book that stated its principles and gave shape to its thinking. Without a formulated system of thought, no consistent human action is possible; such action can result only in self-contradictory confusion and ultimate tragedy. Capitalism has never had this basic statement. That is why the American system, which gave mankind the greatest, unprecedented, miraculous blessings, is now in the process of destroying itself. Men do not know what they had, what they are losing and how they are losing it. They had no book to tell them.
But they have the book now. “The God of the Machine” is a document that could literally save the world—if enough people knew of it and read it. “The God of the Machine” does for capitalism what the Bible did for Christianity—and, forgive the comparison, what “Das Kapital” did for Communism or “Mein Kampf” for Nazism. It takes a book to save or destroy the world.
There is a tremendous market for “The God of the Machine”, a vast audience, waiting and ready—but it must be reached in the proper way. As you can see now—and most particularly since the last election—the American people are desperately anxious to preserve the system of free enterprise. But they are bewildered and confused. They would grab a book that would give them the arguments and ammunition they need. But they must be told that this is the book.
During the presidential campaign of 1940, I worked as
head of the Research Department at the National Headquarters of the Associated Wilkie Clubs. It was my job to find and spread literature in support of capitalism. At that time I saw the desperate public need for intellectual ammunition. We received letters by the thousands, begging us for information. People said in effect that they wanted to defend free enterprise, but did not know how to do it; they got stumped by collectivist arguments and had no answers. They begged us for answers. More than that: whenever we sent out some mild, ineffectual, compromising piece of campaign literature, we got no response. Whenever we sent out a clear, strong, consistent piece of writing—we got requests for thousands of reprints, we could not keep up with the demand from local clubs and private individuals.
The same situation is true now—only more so. There is a huge public demand for ammunition against collectivism, an actual public hunger—which no one tries to satisfy. There is a market which is simply going begging. “The God of the Machine” is the answer—and a potential gold-mine for its publishers, if properly exploited.
But to do this, you must inform the public that:
a) It is not just another book on free enterprise. So many of them have been published and they were so bad, weak, muddled, unconvincing and ineffectual “that the public has been disappointed too often and is now wary.
b) It is not another “middle-of-the-road” mess, but a clear, strong, fighting document. (Don’t soften the nature of the book—stress it.)
c) It is the book on capitalism and individualism, the book that will give readers ammunition in any argument with collectivists, the book that will answer their every question and tell them everything they want to know about Americanism—philosophically, historically, economically, morally.
If this were told to the public—through a clear, well-thought-out campaign of publicity backed by a few intelligent ads—(such a campaign would not even need to be too costly, merely well-planned and through the right channels)—there would be no stopping the sale of the book. The response would astonish you—not merely response from “important” men and intellectuals, but from average people and the general public. Let me assure you of this. I know.
As a minor illustration, let me mention the fate of my own book “The Fountainhead.” It is a novel on individualism.
Ten publishers rejected it—because it was “too strong”, “too intellectual”, and they said it would not sell. Look at it now. It has sold about 25,000 copies at this writing, has had seven printings in six months, and the sales are growing every week. The original exploitation campaign of my publishers was not large—but they did inform the public of the nature of my book. The public did the rest. From the fan mail I am getting, I know that it is not the story or any particular literary merit of mine, but the idea of the book, the philosophy of individualism, that is selling the book. The idea answers a public need. “The God of the Machine” would answer it much more effectively—precisely because it is not fiction.
Incidentally, don’t let anyone tell you that “The God of the Machine” is “too difficult to understand” or “above the head of the average reader.” I have given copies of it to many people, most of them men and women without formal education. They had no trouble reading and understanding the book. They were enthusiastic about it.
As a practical suggestion, I would like to urge you to make mimeographed publicity releases along the lines of this letter—and send them to editors, columnists, political commentators all over the country, as well as to industrial leaders, and even to bookstores. But not just to book reviewers and the usual trade channels. These alone will not do the job.
I would suggest that you take a few ads—they don’t have to be large, but they must be most carefully worded along these lines, for full effect.
I would suggest that you discuss the book and enlist the help of the men [conservative business leaders] listed below. It would be most helpful if you met them in person. I have spoken to them about “The God of the Machine”, but a conversation with the publisher could have better practical results. These men represent organizations with thousands of members. If you make the proper arrangements, they would send out circulars and publicity to their memberships—a ready-made field of readers most interested in the subject. They are doing this for my book.
Mr. Fred G. Clark, American Economic Foundation, 295 Madison Avenue, New York City
Dr. E. Rumely, Committee for Constitutional Government, 205 East 42nd Street, New York City
Mr. Merwin K. Hart, National Economic Council, 350 Fifth Avenue, New York City
Dr. Virgil Jordan, National Industrial Conference Board, 247 Park Avenue, New York City. (This last organization cannot send out outside publicity material, but Dr. Jordan can be greatly helpful and is an enthusiastic admirer of “The God of the Machine” which he has read.)
In conclusion, let me say that “The God of the Machine” is a book that will live forever and will have a great influence on the thinking of mankind. But if you, as a publisher, take advantage of it now and stand behind it, it can also become a great commercial asset—which is a proper reward for its author and publisher.
With my best wishes for success,
AR’s final assessment of The God of the Machine was expressed in her review of the book in the October 1964 issue of The Objectivist Newsletter. It is, she wrote, “a brilliant and extraordinary book that narrowly misses greatness.” Though stressing the virtues of the book, AR points out some relatively minor organizational and philosophic flaws, but concludes her review: “The battle [for human liberty] is not over—and in that great line of heroic and intellectual effort, The God of the Machine itself is another illustrious link.”
AR and her husband returned to California in December.