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KRONOS Vol IX, No. 2KRONIKLES
WORLDS IN COLLISION IN MACMILLAN'S CATALOGUES
C. Leroy Ellenberger
Copyright (c) 1983 by C. Leroy Ellenberger
A long-standing question concerning how Macmillan listed Worlds in Collision in its catalogues has finally been answered by the discovery of a page from a catalogue in which the book appeared under the heading "Science". The allegation that the book had been listed as a science and/or text book by Macmillan has persisted for many years. In a prize-winning essay in 1979, Michael Chriss wrote without elaboration that "Macmillan listed the book in the science section of their spring catalogue of new releases''.(1) A critique of Chriss' essay appears in Appendix A. My attempt then to track down this listing through Macmillan was unsuccessful because no one contacted there could locate records or files from 1950. A year later, another essay reported Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin to have lectured at Smith College that "the publisher classified it as science".(2)
In an article published in KRONOS in 1981, Isaac Asimov's erroneous notion that "Macmillan planned to publish the book as part of its textbook line" was dispatched by reproducing Macmillan's announcement of Worlds in Collision as a "General Interest" trade book.(3) This did not exclude the possibility, however, that another listing as a science book also existed. Actually, the notice in Publishers' Weekly upon the book's publication classified it as science.(4)
THE PLOT THICKENS
Here the matter rested until I was led to Chester Longwell's April 13, 1951 letter in Science. Longwell was reacting to "The Silly Season" editorial in the November 18, 1950 Saturday Evening Post. In Stargazers and Gravediggers, Velikovsky discusses John Pfeiffer's letter in the July 13, 1951 Science,(5) in which Longwell's letter figures prominently. According to Longwell: "The publisher then advertised the book as a scientific contribution, listing it in the Macmillan spring catalogue under the heading 'Science', along with new books in several scientific fields."(6) My first reaction was to consider this just another "big lie" tactic until Charles L. Skelley, the Macmillan representative at the 1950 A.A.A.S. meeting in Cleveland, informed me that the book had indeed been listed in a textbook catalogue, but not as a textbook.(7) Henry B. McCurdy, the head of Macmillan's College Department in 1950, confirmed this, adding: "These catalogues were sent to [Macmillan's] complete list of college faculty members throughout the United States."(8) However, neither Skelley nor McCurdy could provide a copy of this catalogue or listing.
The prospect of this science listing being genuine came as a surprise because no pro-Velikovsky commentator, to my knowledge, had ever mentioned the listing or even acknowledged Longwell's allegation. Little credence was given the allegation because it lacked corroboration and many other assertions made by critics have been wrong.
As it turns out, Longwell's letter in Science was not his first protest of Macmillan's listing of Worlds in Collision. The book review by four Yale professors that Longwell assembled the year before for the American Journal of Science ended with a two paragraph truth-in-advertising editorial which included:
Since this review is the subject of Velikovsky's "Quartered at Yale'',(10) it may be noted that the challenge presented by Longwell's allegation was ignored. Nevertheless, Longwell's conclusion was rescued from obscurity by Walter Sullivan in 1974 when the final two paragraphs "by the indignant Professor Longwell" were quoted in Continents in Motion.(11)
Fortunately, some of Macmillan's early files, including those on Velikovsky, were donated to The New York Public Library in 1966 where they can be examined in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division.(12) When this was learned recently while on a visit to the East Coast, I made it a point to go to New York to look them over. The Velikovsky correspondence file contains the page from the catalogue that the astronomer Wasley S. Krogdahl, then of Northwestern University,(13) attached to his May 15, 1950 letter to Boyd T. Harris of the College Department. Krogdahl called this listing "a professional affront". This page is reproduced below.
Krogdahl's revelation evidently came as a surprise to at least one employee in the College Department. At the point in Krogdahl's letter where the "Science" listing is mentioned, the following comment was written in the margin: "He is mistaken on this point", beneath which, in darker ink, was penned: "Correction Catalogue attached."
The "General Interest" listing reproduced in KRONOS VI:4 was from Macmillan's corporate catalogue. The "Science" listing was from a College Department catalogue in which other new Macmillan books considered to be of interest to college faculty were listed under various headings in the back, separate from the textbooks. The main catalogue did not use "Science" as a heading. The copy for this shortened College Department listing borrowed five sentences from the main catalogue description. It should be noted that, in referring to a "spring catalogue" of Macmillan's, neither Chriss nor Longwell nor Sullivan discriminated between the two catalogues, if indeed they were aware of the difference.
The 'Science" Listing.
Krogdahl was not the first to complain about the "Science" listing; but his was the first such letter discovered in the file. Astronomer Frank K. Edmondson, Director of the Goethe Link Observatory of Indiana University, complained vehemently about this listing in his April 5, 1950 letter to George P. Brett, Jr., Macmillan's president.(14) Also enclosing the page from the catalogue, he wrote:
This advertisement was a self-mailer for Worlds in Collision which Edmondson also enclosed. In replying to Edmondson on April 17, Brett defended Macmillan's publishing Velikovsky's book and explained:
Not to be placated easily, Edmondson then sent a vigorous reply to Brett on April 19 in which he forcefully suggested Macmillan sever its bonds with Velikovsky.
The same two requirements were stated by Dean B. McLaughlin, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Michigan, in his May 20 diatribe to Brett. In conclusion, Edmondson next reiterated the closing of his first letter, requesting that his name be removed from Macmillan's mailing list and that their textbook representatives no longer call at his office.
Brett's brief reply on April 28 was confined to persuading Edmondson not to shut himself off from Macmillan. In part, Brett consoled, "I feel confident . . . that in time you will again get to appreciate our keeping you informed; and I hope that, having 'blown your top', so to speak - and I can well understand your feelings - you won't be too unkind to our representative when next he calls."
Thus, we can see that although Worlds in Collision was unquestionably a trade book, it did appear - as some critics have alleged - under the heading "Science" in a department catalogue that was mailed to college faculty members. Several protesters at the time viewed this listing with extreme prejudice in their letters to Macmillan. Statements to the effect that Worlds in Collision "was widely advertised as a science book'',(15) however, are clearly exaggerations because the major thrust of the advertising as a trade book in popular media did not classify the book.(16) Since no evidence has been found that scientists in the 1950s accused Macmillan of offering the book as a college textbook, it is not clear when this particular allegation originated.
A PLAUSIBLE EXPLANATION
Whether the listing as a science book was intentional or inadvertent is another matter. Brett certainly wanted critics to think the latter after the furor began. However, it is likely that this listing was prepared well before there was any inkling of the virulence of the coming controversy and before Brett became personally involved in January. This can be inferred from the February publication date and $5.00 price shown in the catalogues. February slipped to March and finally April after the Harper's article appeared in January.(17)
The evaluations of the three scholars, assembled by McCurdy for Brett after Shapley's warnings in January, were completed by the middle of February.(18) That Macmillan was serious about these evaluations is attested by the wording in a memo from J. Randall Williams, General Manager, to Brett dated February 7th, a Tuesday. Therein, Williams wrote in terms of ". . . if the book is cleared satisfactorily and if we do go ahead with its publication". This was written the day after Velikovsky finalized the text.(19) However, by the end of the week and before the three evaluations were ready, the presses were running.(20)
The $5.00 price was contemplated before the high sales potential was fully recognized and when the book was to be printed from type instead of plates.(21) When the higher volume looked assured, the production order was changed from type to plates, thereby lowering costs. The catalogues evidently were either printed too soon to take account of these changes or never revised to reflect them .
The verification of this "Science" listing appears to contradict the comment of Harold S. Latham, head of the Trade Department, in his memoirs: "Never once was Worlds in Collision included in textbook listings or catalogues of texts, nor were scientific claims ever made for it."(22) Perhaps a listing in the back of a textbook catalogue in a supplemental list rescues the "Science" listing from contradicting Latham, but this would be a fine point. Also in apparent contradiction to Latham's saying that Macmillan received many hundreds of letters protesting publication is the fact that on June 8, 1950 a short form letter dictated by Brett was sent over Latham's signature to only twenty protesters.(23) The letter informed them that Macmillan's contract with Velikovsky ". . . has been cancelled by mutual consent as of this date".
This small number of protesters is consistent with the account Velikovsky gave at his press conference on June 21, 1950. He was quoted as saying there was "no flood of letters, only a few, and these were written in very violent terms".(24) The experience at Harper's appears to have been similar. On February 28, 1950, Larrabee sent Putnam a copy of their "Universal, All Purpose Velikovsky Letter Answerer which [had] been sent to the several dozen agitated physicists, etc. . . ."
This listing under "Science" is genuine, not a fabrication of the critics. While it was not the primary motivating factor influencing critics in 1950 the prepublication magazine articles did this(25) - it played a part which deserves recognition in the interest of historical accuracy. Despite the listing, what is presented here should not be construed as a justification for the inexcusable boycott of Macmillan, a matter that has already been treated elsewhere.
NOTES AND REFERENCES1. Michael Chriss, "Scientists in Wonderland: the Strange Case of Dr. Velikovsky," Griffith Observer (September 1979), pp. 2-10 (6). Awarded first prize in the 1979 Hughes Griffith Observer essay contest . See Appendix A, "Anatomy of a Prize-Winner".
2. Judith Fox, "Immanuel Velikovsky and The Scientific Method," Synthesis 5:1 ( 1980) pp. 45-57 (52). The notes for this lecture, which was delivered April 13, 1950, are in the possession of Dr. Owen Gingerich of Harvard's Center for Astrophysics.
3. Ralph E. Juergens, "Asimov's Guide to the Velikovsky Affair," KRONOS VI:4 (1981), pp. 65-70 (66-67). Asimov's allegation appeared in the October 1974 Analog James Oberg appears to have copied Asimov on this point when he wrote that "Macmillan brought out the book through its textbook division" [Skeptical Inquirer V: I (Fall 1980) pp. 20-27 (22)] . Although Henry H. Bauer corrected this and other errors in Oberg's article two issues later [Skeptical Inquirer V:3 (Spring 1981), pp. 74-75], when the article was reprinted, no corrections had been made [Kendrick Frazier, ed., Paranormal Borderlands of Science (Buffalo, 1981), pp. 401408 (403)] .
4. "Weekly Record," Publishers' Weekly (April 8, 1950), p. 1719.
5. Immanuel Velikovsky, Stargazers and Gravediggers (New York, 1983), p. 221. John Pfeiffer is the author of The Emergence of Man ( 1969) and The Creative Explosion (1983), and contributing editor for Science 83.
6. Chester R. Longwell, "The 1950 Silly Season" (letter), Science 113 (April 13, 1951), p 418. As the first mention of Velikovsky in Science, the week before Warren Guthrie's report from the 1950 AAAS meeting on the panel discussion on pre-publication review, the absence of Longwell's letter from both DeGrazia's The Velikovsky Affair and Velikovsky's Stargazers and Gravediggers might be called, to borrow a phrase, a "strange oversight".
7. Letter, Skelley to Ellenberger (April 18,1983).
8. Letter, McCurdy to Ellenberger (June 1,1983).
9. Chester R. Longwell, American Journal of Science 248 (August 1950) pp. 584-589 (589). ' 97
10. Immanuel Velikovsky, "Quartered at Yale," KRONOS 11:3 (1977), pp. 49-55 and Stargazers and Gravediggers, pp. 162-168. Longwell's review was also discussed in The Velikovsky Affair, pp. 28-29, 220-21 (U.S.)/pp. 34-35, 204-5 (U.K.).
11. Walter Sullivan, Continents in Motion (New York, 1974), pp. 29-30.
12. New York Times (October 20, 1966), p. 50. Ten years later, James Putnam's papers were also donated to The New York Public Library. N. B. These files on Velikovsky, while extensive, are by no means complete.
13. According to Who's Who in America, 38th Ed., Krogdahl went to the University of Kentucky in 1958. In April 1950, Krogdahl had just completed the manuscript for a beginning astronomy textbook. His letter to Macmillan informed them that his manuscript was in the mail and then turned "to the matter of Velikovsky's book". Two weeks later Paul Herget of the Cincinnati Observatory refused to give Macmillan a reader's report on Krogdahl's manuscript [McCurdy to Brett, June 2, 1950] .
14. Heretofore, the description of Edmondson's role in the Velikovsky affair has been confined to his book review in the April 9, 1950 Indianapolis Star. Besides this volunteered review and correspondence with Brett, Edmondson also wrote a re-review for the Louisville Courier-Journal (April 23,1950). At the June 1950 meeting of the American Astronomical Society held at Indiana University, all of Edmondson's correspondence on Worlds in Collision was exhibited [Edmondson to Ellenberger, June 23, 1983].
15. Michael W. Friedlander, The Conduct of Science (Prentice-Hall, 1972), pp. 42-46 (43).
16. See the following Macmillan ads: Publishers' Weekly (February 25, 1950), Harper's (April 1950, p. 111) The New York Times Book Review ( April 2, 1950, p. 14; April 23, p 14; and May 7, p. 22), Saturday Review (April 15, 1950, p. 5) and New York Herald Tribune Book Review (April 16, 1950,* p. 12; April 30, p. 9; and May 14, p. 18). By no stretch of the imagination can these ads be called "lurid" as Chriss would have us believe. An ad set in type whose only decorations are three stylized comets represented by five-pointed stars with ruled lines to suggest tails simply is not harshly vivid or terrible, ie., lurid. Perhaps Chriss has confused Macmillan's ads with the illustrations in Collier's, which disturbed even Velikovsky. Even Doubleday's ads (e.g, PW, June 17;NYHTBR, June 25,* p. 15 and NYTBR, June 25, p. 20), while less abstract, are not lurid. Macmillan's ad in Harper's is interesting because it borrows the graphics of the Harper's ad in the January 8 NYTBR, p. 21. [*Reproduced by Chriss in his essay; see footnote 1.]
17. Macmillan's simple announcement in the January 28, 1950 Publishers' Weekly listed the book as "General Interest" for March 14 at $5.00. The full page ad in the February 25 Publishers' Weekly said "COMING APRIL" and "Probably $4.50".
18. The evaluations, two of which were dated February 14, the third, February 13, were addressed to McCurdy. In addition to C. W. van der Merwe (professor of physics at New York University), who was named in The Velikovsky Affair, the other two scholars were Edward M. Thorndike (head of the Physics Dept. at Queens College) and Clarence S. Sherman (associate professor of chemistry at Cooper Union). While they had their criticisms, none recommended against publication. They were selected because McCurdy knew them and respected their judgment. A fourth evaluation was prepared by Macmillan's C. L. Skelley. It is interesting to note that Thorndike is the nephew of Lynn Thorndike who in 1946 was Shapley's first choice to screen Worlds in Collision, a role played by Kallen after Thorndike declined [Stargazers, p.49]. The deliberations of these three college professors were solely for internal use. However, it is doubtful their opinions would have carried any weight with the scientists who protested to Macmillan. On this point, Edmondson commented: "Approval by two physicists and a chemist whose names I do not recognize would not make me feel any better about the publication of a 'crank book'. Macmillan should have consulted some experts in the field of celestial mechanics, such as Brouwer, Clemence or Herget" [Letter, Edmondson to Ellenberger, June 23, 19831. Krogdahl expressed the same sense in his August 20, 1983 letter to the writer.
19. Stargazers, p. 78.
20. The evaluators were provided finished, bound books. Thorndike received his copy on Friday, February 10 [Postcard, Thorndike to Ellenberger, June 14,1983] . This does not necessarily contradict Kallen's comment in Pensee IVR I (p. 38) that the presses were running in January. This is because, with the only hold-up being the Epilogue and Index, the bulk of the book could have been printed first before that last signature became a bottleneck. Cf. Stargazers, p. 87 and PW (June 24,1950), p. 2739. However, the reconstruction above conflicts with Faulkner Lewis' January 17,1950 forecast of having bound stock on February 24 providing the Index was ready by January 30 [Memo to Williams, Prink, and Putnam] .
21. Interestingly, the jacket proof was printed showing four prices: $4.25, $4.50, $4.75 and $5.00
22. Harold S. Latham, My Life in Publishing (New York, 1965), p. 74.
23. For the record, these are the twenty people, with the dates of their letters:
Curiously, considering the footnote in Stargazers (p. 153) about the letter writing
campaign at the University of Chicago, none of the above is identified with that university
while only one is from Chicago. Also, it is ironic that Pfeiffer's letter was not a protest,
but a letter of gratitude for being sent a complimentary copy. Marshall was the host of a
nationally televised science program on NBC-TV, Sunday afternoons.
ANATOMY OF A PRIZE-WINNER
The September 1979 Griffith Observer printed an essay ''Scientists in Wonderland: The Strange Case of Dr. Velikovsky" by Michael Chriss which won first prize in the annual Hughes Griffith Observer contest. The author, an astronomy instructor at the College of San Mateo, reviews the origin of Worlds in Collision, its reception in 1950 and the AAAS symposium in 1974 and then attempts to explain why scientists reacted as they did. Although registering no animosity toward Velikovsky, Chriss has the audacity to imply that Shapley's role as an opinion leader in scientific circles against Velikovsky's book was a figment of Velikovsky's imagination. Clearly, Chriss is completely amiss in his understanding of what happened and why. His superficial analysis fails to convince. His bizarre narrative sets a new record for total errors in a single article, displacing Howard (not Harold) Margolis' performance in the April 1964 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
How much constructive thought can be expected from a writer who transposes two words and adds three of his own while presenting introductory quotes from Lewis Carroll and then, without acknowledging it, trades on the Walt Disney version of "Alice in Wonderland" in order to set the mood of the essay? Chriss repeatedly either asserts or implies that Velikovsky (a) was a biblical scholar before embarking in 1939 on the research that led to Worlds in Collision, (b) attacked his critics with "bitter denunciations" and (c) compared himself with Copernicus and Galileo. All of these are untrue.
On the first point, Chriss confuses pride in a Jewish heritage with being a biblical scholar. Phrases such as "lifelong studies" and "major interest" are used to describe Velikovsky's interest in the Bible at a time when he was a full-time doctor and psychoanalyst in Palestine. Chriss' emphasis is out of all proportion to the role the Bible played in Velikovsky's life before 1939, and after. While Velikovsky was not ignorant of scripture, neither was he then, in any special sense, a "biblical scholar". Even after 1939, the Bible was just one of many sources he used to support his theory of cosmic catastrophes. Being Jewish and writing for largely Judeo-Christian audiences, his focusing on biblical incidents is most appropriate.
On the second point, three times Chriss asserts that Velikovsky attacked his critics with, for example, "bitter denunciations". Of course, Chriss quotes none of these alleged tirades because none exists. Velikovsky's toleration of and conduct toward his critics was exemplary. Albert Shadowitz and Peter Walsh described Velikovsky's conduct as follows: "Throughout all this, Velikovsky maintained a dignified and gentlemanly attitude. . . ." (p. 216) and: "We have praised Velikovsky's attitude and actions in his long fight with organized science. There was none of the denigration, on his part, that seemed to characterize the remarks of many of his opponents" (p. 223) [The Dark Side of Knowledge (Addison-Wesley, 1976)] . Ann Waldron noted: "He [Velikovsky] never lost his dignity nor became bitter, no matter how virulent the attacks on him became" [Science Digest Special No.4 (Sept/Oct 1980), p. 94] .
Lastly, while Velikovsky was not above comparing himself with great men of science, he never compared himself with Copernicus and Galileo. That Velikovsky "wrapped himself in the cloak of Galileo", as E. C. Krupp put it in his In Search of Ancient Astronomies ( 1978), has become a popular misconception. Any such comparisons were made by critics or followers. In point of fact, since Velikovsky did not hold Galileo in high esteem, his sense of ethics would not permit him to don Galileo's cloak.
Furthermore, in representing that scientists in 1950 "refuted" Velikovsky "with the light of scientific logic" and "biting argument", Chriss appears not to know the difference between either denouncing and refuting or polemic and argument. His position on this issue clashes with Sagan's discounting the early criticism in Scientists Confront Velikovsky (1977). This is not the only example of Chriss confusing history with fractured fairy-tales. He also states the naive point of view "that Copernicus was right only because his heliocentric theory gave a better description of the way the universe was observed to behave. . . ." As is well-known to students of the history and philosophy of science, at the time that Copernicus was accepted, observations were simply not precise enough to favor Copernicus over Ptolemy.
Many careless errors of fact clutter Chriss' text, some of which, ironically, are presented correctly in the references listed in his one-sided "Selected Bibliography". Yet, he gives no reason for contradicting his own sources. As for his one-sidedness, except for the Menzel-Larrabee pairing in the December 1963 Harper's, Chriss typically ignores rebuttals to critics. Thus, for example, the Velikovsky-Stewart debate in the June 1951 Harper's is missing from the bibliography as well as DeGrazia's rebuttal to Margolis in the October 1964 American Behavioral Scientist and, most tellingly, KRONOS' own Velikovsky and Establishment Science, the rebuttal to Scientists Confront Velikovsky. Typical of his breaches of accuracy, attention to detail, and proper scholarship are the following:
1. Has Velikovsky as a contributor, which he was not, to the Scripta Universitatus instead of founder and co-editor.
2. Says the idea for a "great catastrophe" came to Velikovsky in 1939 in Palestine instead of in 1940 in New York. Similarly, Velikovsky did not come upon the Ipuwer Papyrus in 1939, but sought it out in 1940.
3. Leaves the impression that Macmillan rushed to sign a contract with Velikovsky when the contract was signed six months after first seeing the manuscript.
4. Creates the false impression that Velikovsky's brief letter in the March
1950 Harper's was written in reaction to Payne-Gaposchkin's article in the March 14 The Reporter which is impossible because Harper's came out before The Reporter.
5. Considers publication dates of March 14 and April 3 to be "late spring".*
6. Implies that Macmillan planned the pre-publication magazine articles when they were conceived entirely by the individual magazines.
7. Erroneously cites an April 16 ad as Macmillan's first for Worlds in Collision when earlier ads appeared on February 25 and April 2; see footnote 16 in article.
8. Criticizes Macmillan's pre-publication publicity on the basis of an ad actually run by Doubleday on June 25 in the New York Herald Tribune Book Review.
9. Identifies Macmillan's president as vice-president.
10. Charges Macmillan with irresponsibilty in promoting the book, but ignores its decision to convene a last minute review panel of three scholars.
11. Quotes from Shapley's two January letters to Macmillan as though they were a single letter.
12. Quotes Shapley's "would venture into the Black Arts" as "a retreat into the Black Arts".
13. Claims Velikovsky wrote the Collier's articles and cancelled the third installment when actually they were excerpted and adapted from Worlds in Collision by John Lear who opted for maximum sensationalism and Collier's cancelled the third one.
14. Has Velikovsky "asking Huber if he could speak Assyrian" when the question was actually could Huber read Sumerian.
15. Omits any mention of Irving Michelson and his supportive role at the 1974 AAAS symposium, thereby leaving the impression that all participating scientists "pummelled" Velikovsky's work. Also, the symposium, lacking an afternoon session, was not a "full day" while attendance of close to 1,500 people is described as merely "over 500 people".
16. In discussing the attempted suppression of Worlds in Collision, refers to "the privilege of publication" when it is a constitutional right and then places pragmatism above morality in saying: "But it was worse than immoral; it was a blunder, too."
17. Claims Velikovsky was "virtually ignorant . . . in the fields of physics and astronomy" when the opposite is conceded by Asimov in the foreword to Scientists Confront Velikovsky.
18. Charges that "Velikovsky never stopped to show how his theory was reconcilable" with conventional points of view which ignores the Epilogue to Worlds in Collision where Velikovsky tried to do just that. Chriss may not think the effort adequate, but he has no right to say: "Velikovsky never stopped to show . . ."
While Chriss has a right to his own opinion, he also has an obligation to state the facts as correctly as possible using the sources at his disposal. At this he fails utterly.
Despite this abysmal performance, and as incredible as it may seem, Chriss does manage to get one fact correct which was stated incorrectly in The Velikovsky Affair. Worlds in Collision was, as Chriss states, a top ten best seller for twenty seven consecutive weeks, but only on the New York Times list. Contrary to Juergens' saying "the book topped the best seller lists . . . for twenty successive weeks in 1950", it was number one for only nine straight weeks, eleven overall, at the New York Times. On the New York Herald Tribune list, the book was in the top ten for twenty-three straight weeks, where its longest run at number one was six weeks, eleven overall. This is not to forget Chriss being correct about the "Science" listing,*but for some reason that was not mentioned in The Velikovsky Affair. Also, merely repeating an unverified allegation is not in the same class as reconstructing the best seller statistic which could not have been copied from any published source.
This brings up a related error in Juergens' account. The bracketed sentence following the best seller statistic is unwarranted, too. There was no "strange oversight" that the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year covering 1950 omitted Worlds in Collision. Based on Publishers ' Weekly for January 20, 1951, Velikovsky's book simply was not in the top ten. Kon Tiki (published in September) was No. 5 with 128,848 copies. No. 10 sold about 81,000 copies. Dianetics just missed the top ten with 80,000 copies, ranking No. 12. Between Macmillan's sales of 54,000 copies and Doubleday's reduced volume implied by reports in Publishers' Weekly, it is difficult to reconstruct sales for Worlds in Collision exceeding 75,000 copies for 1950.*
Uneven in his research, Chriss is positively incorrigible as a proofreader. At the risk of nit-picking, let me point out that Harper's and Collier's are consistently spelled sans apostrophes. Little respect is shown proper names with Weizmann, Kallen, O'Neill, and Payne-Gaposchkin misspelled as well as isolated misspellings of Velikovsky, Larrabee and Oursler.
Considering the plethora of errors in Chriss' essay, it is sobering, and somewhat disappointing, to realize that they prompted very little reader response. The only reaction came from three people, Harry Mongold, George R. Talbott and the writer. Although lengthy correspondence ensued, very little was conceded the protesters. With a prize-winning as riddled with errors as this one is, one wonders who deserves criticism more, Chriss or the judges? And, finally, one wonders who really belongs in Wonderland, Chriss or Velikovsky?
Acknowledgment : The helpful insights provided by Henry H. Bauer and Joseph May are greatly appreciated.