August 29, 1946
Mr. Leonard E. Read
The Foundation for Economic Education, Inc.
Irvington-on-Hudson, New York
I am enclosing the letter from your friend, Mr. Harper, which you asked me to return. I did not gather from your note whether you wanted to ask him to do a review of ANTHEM for the New York Times or for the Saturday Review of Literature.
As far as the Times is concerned, I want first to hear whether Lorine Pruette will want to do the review. I will send ANTHEM to her as soon as I get a copy of the bookstore edition. But it might be a good idea to have Mr. Harper do a review for the Saturday Review of Literature—if he has connections there and if it does not involve submitting a review copy first to their editor, as it’s quite a pinkish publication. Before you ask him to do it, let me know what is Mr. Harper’s literary background and experience. Has he done reviews before?
I am enclosing two comments on ANTHEM. One is a copy of a “fan” letter I received from Paris from Paul Palmer. The other one is a surprising notice from a surprising source—a grocery market bulletin, of all places. Note how the writer of the article paraphrases what I said in my foreword. This is the way ideas spread. I really enjoyed seeing this.
Your little booklet, “Samplings of Important Books”, which I received, is an excellent idea. It will be a valuable undertaking if you help to promote good books of our side in this manner. But be extremely careful in your selection of books to endorse. Of course, Henry Hazlitt’s book was safe to recommend.
As an advance warning, for God’s sake DON’T recommend “Animal Farm”. You have probably heard about it—it’s a little booklet that has just come out and is being whooped up as a lesson against Communism, which it is not. I have read it. It made me sick. It is a book against Stalin, not against Communism. In fact, it is the mushiest and most maudlin preachment of Communism (I suppose the author would call it Socialism, but there is no difference), that I have seen in a long time. The moral of the book is not: “Communism is evil,” but: “Stalin’s Communism is just as evil as Capitalism.” Don’t let’s help to preach that idea.
I am sorry to say that I could not finish reading “Profits and the Ability to Pay Wages”. It is too elementary for a
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serious book on economics, and much too dull and too involved for a popular book. But I won’t go into a long criticism of it, since you told me yourself that you were disappointed in it.
I telephoned Ruth Meilandt yesterday to ask her about the publication date of ANTHEM, since I have not heard from you about it. I was very disturbed to learn that things seemed to be very vague. Miss Meilandt could not tell me what was going to be done, or when. She asked my advice on how to handle the situation; so I am having the whole of the Pamphleteers for a conference at my house next Tuesday.
The thing that disturbs me most is the fact that something has gone very wrong on our timing. As the ad for the Publishers’ Weekly is not yet placed or even written, we will not get the book into the bookstores before October, and this is too long a period of time since the appearance of the magazine edition. I am afraid that we have wasted whatever interest was created by the magazine copies and the free copies that have gone out. Maybe we can correct the mistake, maybe not; I don’t know. I shall write to you in detail about our conference.