The Report From Iron Mountain



The Report From Iron Mountain was a hoax written by Leonard C. Lewin in 1967 and published by the Dial Press. 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 on 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 (the hoax came out during the Vietnam War) and the stupidity of the arms race. With these aims in mind, Lewin wrote the hoax.

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, later 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.

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 Mr. Lewin received more than a thousand copies of the bootlegged version."

The hoax claimed that 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 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 lifeforms and out of control pollution. Another facet of the supposed report was the reinstitution of slavery.

After the report's release, Report From Iron Mountain was on the New York Times bestseller list and was translated into 15 different languages. From the first there was controversy over whether it was real or a hoax. Lyndon Johnson was not happy with it. U.S. embassies disclaimed the report, noting it was not official government policy.

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. Trans-Action devoted an issue to the debate over the book. Esquire published a 28,000-word excerpt.

Three men were accused of writing it: Lewin himself, because he had written the report's introduction, John Kenneth Galbraith, because he had written reviews in the Washington Post and Chicago Tribune under an alias, and the economist and philosopher Kenneth E. Boulding.

It was not until five years later that the work was finally revealed as a hoax. In 1972, fretting how the Pentagon Papers and other documents about the Vietnam War "read like parodies of Iron Mountain rather than the reverse", Lewin confessed in the March 19 New York Times Book Review that he had written the entire report. It was even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the "Most Successful Literary Hoax" (although some may argue that that title should be bestowed upon the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion").

Even after his admission, however, there are those who still believe the hoax is real. As mentioned above, the far-right Liberty Lobby, believing the report was a government publication, printed their own copies and were sued by Lewin for copyright infringement. In 1991, Oliver Stone used a quote from the hoax in the movie, JFK. One of Stone's story consultants, former Air Force officer L. Fletcher Prouty, believed the hoax was real.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home