Encounter Books

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Encounter Books masthead, screengrab from http://www.encounterbooks.com/ Encounter Books

Encounter Books is a publisher of neocon books; an enterprise started by Peter Collier and David Horowitz. It describes itself as "an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a tax exempt, non profit corporation". It currently is the publishing arm for books of authors usually appearing in FrontPage magazine, and similar neocon writers elsewhere.

What others say

Bill Berkowitz reviews Kate Coleman's book and this is his assessment of the publisher:

Given Encounter Books’ anti-progressive bent and anti-environmental mission and record, one can't help but wonder whether journalistic standards were plowed aside in the rush to publish a pre-emptive strike against environmentalists…[1]

And about Encounter Book's publication list:

Encounter has published a number of books attacking liberals and leftists: The Hillary Trap and The World According to Gore by Debra Saunders, The Anti-Chomsky Reader, edited by both Collier and Horowitz, and Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left by Ronald Radosh.[2]

Books Published by Encounter

It has published books by:

  • J. Bowyer Bell Murders on the Nile, The World Trade Center and Global Terror. Blurb: 'In Murders on the Nile, the World Trade Center and Global Terror, J. Bowyer Bell takes us back to the cradle of Islamic discontent, showing how Islamic terror arose along the banks of the Nile a century ago amidst the grievances of an Egypt held in bondage by foreign imperialists and local despots. Two generations of clerics, sheiks and imams, became obsessed with the luminous appeal of the absolute. And the most zealous of these lethal idealists found in righteous murder—a holy war—a proper means to shape an ideal Islamic society free from the contaminating influence of Westernization.'[3]
  • Michael Fumento, Bio-Evolution: How Biotechnology Is Changing Our World, Encounter Books, October 2003.
  • Kate Coleman'sThe Secret Wars of Judi Bari: A Car Bomb, the Fight for the Redwoods, and the End of Earth First!, January 2005. ISBN 1893554740. Reviewed by Berkowitz[4]
  • Jessica Gavora her book was funded by the John M. Olin Foundation[2]
  • David Horowitz and Peter Collier, The Anti-Chomsky Reader;
  • Myron Magnet
  • Douglas Murray, Neoconservatism: Why We Need It, Abstract: "is a defense of the most controversial political philosophy of our era. Douglas Murray takes a fresh look at the movement that replaced Great-Society liberalism, helped Ronald Reagan bring down the Wall, and provided the intellectual rationale for the Bush administration's War on Terror."
  • David Pryce-Jones Betreyal, (abstract: "believes that France has done more damage to the Middle East than any other country, backing Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian cause, supporting Saddam Hussein, giving safe harbor to the Ayatollah Khomeini. Middle East geo-politics are spreading from French soil to an increasingly Islamized Europe").
  • Melanie Phillips, Londonistan, Abstract: "The suicide bombings carried out in London in 2005 by British Muslims revealed an enormous fifth column of Islamist terrorists and their sympathizers. Under the noses of British intelligence, London has become the European hub for the promotion, recruitment and financing of Islamic terror and extremism—so much so that it has been mockingly dubbed 'Londonistan'."
  • Ronald Radosh Commies: A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left;
  • Debra Saunders The Hillary Trap and The World According to Gore;


Critical Overview: 'Serious Books for Serious Readers'

According to its catalogue Encounter Books’ topics range from “global warming hysteria” to “the dysfunctional culture of the CIA” to America’s efforts to “spread democracy globally” the “battle against Islamofascism”, on the relation between “virtue and successful capitalist enterprise”, and on that old standard “corruption of the mainstream media.”[5]The media that many right-wing reactionaries railed about included the 'underground press' of the 1960s, and indeed, David Horowitz, previously a founder of the New Left movement in the 1960s, now with FrontPageMag.com, and Encounter. The catalogue — prefaced by a warm testimonial endorsement of Encounter’s Roger Kimball from the late William F. Buckley Jr. —is a useful index on crackpot realism, which we will sample from their catalogue and present below. According to Encounter's catalogue they are "Celebrating Ten Years of Serious Books for Serious Readers", but serious in what sense: "seriously deranged"?

The critics of capitalism have emerged from every corner to harangue those who create wealth with charges of greed, thievery, and malice. Theodore Roosevelt Malloch answers these charges head-on. In Spiritual Enterprise, he explores the opportunity of doing virtuous business—a concept that has been disappearing from our public consciousness. Malloch argues that the creation of wealth by virtuous means is the most important thing we can do for ourselves and for the world at large. [6]

One immediate generalisation might be that the world seems a little topsey-turvey to Encounter’s inmates:

Everyone knows that the American health care system is in crisis. Skyrocketing costs and ever increasing bureaucracy have traumatized consumers and doctors alike. In The Cure, Dr. David Gratzer brings a welcome dose of common sense to bear on this subject. Drawing on personal experience in both the Canadian and the U. S. system, he shows how paternalistic government involvement in health care has multiplied inefficiencies, discouraged innovation, and punished patients. The key word in Dr. Gratzer’s prescription for saving American health care is “choice.” The Cure offers a detailed and practical approach to putting individuals back in charge. The prescription? A healthy dose of capitalism. [7]

Blame and responsibility for this inversion are to be found from a wide-range of differing and contradictory source's: Encounter’s David Pryce-Jones believes that France has done more damage to the Middle East than any other country. [8] Theodore Dalrymple shows that addiction is not a disease, but a response to personal and existential problems. He argues that withdrawal from opiates is not a serious medical condition but a relatively trivial experience, and says that criminality causes addiction far more often than addiction causes criminality. [9]

In 'Encounterland' Herb London, president of the Hudson Institute, is “one of America’s leading public intellectuals,” although London has little use for intellectual faculty, he has nevertheless spotted a zeal gap:

Opposition to traditional religion; multiculturalism and cultural relativism; materialism; belief in scientific rationality as the ultimate arbiter of human value: taken together, these features of the secularist’s creed underwrite a view of life that is ill-equipped to meet the challenge of a zealous enemy with totalitarian ambitions. In undermining the traditional roots of America, argues London, secular humanism has destroyed the West’s only beliefs worth defending. [10]

What — it has destroyed the profit motive? What emerges after even an initial foray into the catalogue is perhaps there is no real difference in the voices in that sustained exposure to each writer's weltenschauung produces a weltschmerz. To take any significant number of them seriously would be to adopt a conspiratorial paranoid tone which lends itself to the notion that sooner or later you yourself may come under one of its many areas of suspicion — you may have ‘ideological DNA’ that controls how you think:

In the United Nations, on university campuses, and among a growing number of our most prestigious Western newspapers, the historical record has been re-written so thoroughly that Israel is seen as the worst of the oppressive Western occupiers of the Third World. So successful has this campaign been that Palestinian spinmeisters and their apologists have effectively declared that the Israelis, a people living in the shadow of the Holocaust, are themselves “ Nazis.” How could this happen? How did unacceptable anti-Semitism morph into justifiable anti-Zionism, and odious Jew-hatred turn into a politically correct Israel-hatred? In History Upside Down, David Meir-Levi traces the ideological DNA behind Palestinian nationalism and its ludicrous “alternative” histories, revealing how Nazi fascism gave the Arab world’s amorphous hatred of the Jews an intellectual structure and how Soviet communism masked its genocidal intentions with the mantle of national liberation. Meir-Levi then explodes the cornerstone myths that this movement created—myths that rationalize and celebrate decades of unremitting terror and genocidal ambitions, in effect turning the history of the Middle East upside down and inside out, making the victim the aggressor and the aggressor the victim. [11]

Some times, not unlike old Monty Python Sketches, the introductions to the books start off quite harmlessly. Such as in Don Eberly's "sweeping overview of U.S. efforts to promote economic development and freedom in the world", here: “The Rise of Global Civil Society is a report card on freedom. Eberly argues that the progress of freedom depends critically on the creation of civic cultures that promote democratic values.” But as they trundle on you know something decidedly crackpot realist is coming round the corner, :

“Democracy,” he writes, “is not possible without democratic citizens.” He shows that the key to spreading workable democracy lies in finding ways to harness the best of both the public and the private sector, relying on markets and on civil society to enlist the poor as partners in their own development.[12]

The subtitle of Eberly's work is "Building Communities and Nations from the Bottom Up". That was initially printed in February 28, 2008 as the sub-prime collapse became a world-wide financial catastrophe, but we are not short of catastrophes here:

Acclaimed British journalist Melanie Phillips reveals how the advance of the global jihad is being facilitated by a wholesale collapse of Western values and national identity in Europe—a trend in which Britain is taking the lead, and which finds many troubling echoes in America. While attention is fixed on foreign battlegrounds, the war is in danger of being lost at home. As Britain sleepwalks toward cultural oblivion, the disorientation of the once-implacable British bulldog threatens its special relationship with America and the very future of the West. Londonistan is a warning to America, to Britain, and to all who care about freedom. [13]

Writers are engaged in something of an (interminable) eschatology contest. There is of course a weary aura about such output, catastrophe fatigue perhaps, but also the sense of a desperate desire to escape to an imaginary good old days together with some odd exculpation of their own role in the demise of values. Phillips is up against Peter Hitchens’ ‘The Abolition of Britain’, which writes of the period between the death of Winston Churchill and the funeral of Princess Diana, a time he believes has seen disastrous changes in ‘English’ life. The current generation, he believes, looks back on Britain’s illustrious past as if it were a foreign country. If we all sing Rule Brittania the bulldog will regain his sanity. But where do the writer's get their precious insights from?

Melanie Phillips was one of the very few 'Acclaimed British journalists' to write on the Intelligence Summit a gathering of various neocon spooks and propagandists organised by the 'Pentagon Pundits' as they were called[14], or at least its main propaganda produce, with a Spectator report ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’ based on an interview with Dave Gaubatz, a former US Air Force special agent, “who passed on vital intelligence to the Iraq Survey Group and is dismayed that nothing happened.”[15]

The reader will be prepared for the convolutions needed to follow these lines of reasoning, so for Philips:

“…the reason you don’t know about this is that the American administration failed to act on his information, ‘lost’ his classified reports and is now doing everything it can to prevent disclosure of the terrible fact that, through its own incompetence, it allowed Saddam’s WMD to end up in the hands of the very terrorist states against whom it is so controversially at war.”[16]

After the preposterous introductory Philips is quick to produce a sense of distance between herself and Gaubatz, it is as if she has waved us over and huddled down with us to candidly share with the reader a slight disclaimer, in that they:

“…may be tempted to dismiss this as yet another dodgy claim from a warmongering lackey of the world Zionist neocon conspiracy giving credence to yet another crank pushing US propaganda. If so, perhaps you might pause before throwing this article at the cat.”[17]

The reason for this is that Gaubatz was “an agent in the US Air Force’s Office of Special Investigations.” How long can we pause while she runs Agent Gaubatz material past us — never mind the quality, feel the width. Phillips gives us a description of three (or possibly four) ‘huge subterranean vaults’ excavated beneath the Euphrates. Mr Gaubatz ascertained the secret of these vast holes “By speaking to a wide range of Iraqis.” Gaubatz begged the Iraq Study Group (ISG) to “come with heavy equipment to breach the concrete of the bunkers and uncover their sealed contents” indicating he had no real knowledge of what they contained. The ISG did not come, hence the crusade, and here we have the provenance of the tale:

“He subsequently learnt from Iraqi, CIA and British intelligence that the WMD buried in the four sites were excavated by Iraqis and Syrians, with help from the Russians, and moved to Syria. The location in Syria of this material, he says, is also known to these intelligence agencies. The worst-case scenario has now come about.”[18]

The final part of the message (and the probable point of the yarn) is then delivered: “Saddam’s nuclear, biological and chemical material is in the hands of a rogue terrorist state and one with close links to Iran.” Phillips describes the organiser of the Intelligence Summit, John Loftus as “a formidably well informed former attorney to the intelligence world has now sent a memorandum to Congress asking it to investigate Mr Gaubatz’s claims. He has also hit a brick wall.” Gaubatz’s evidence has mysteriously vanished, but, Phillips has it all worked out:

The Republicans won’t touch this because it would reveal the incompetence of the Bush administration in failing to neutralise the danger of Iraqi WMD. The Democrats won’t touch it because it would show President Bush was right to invade Iraq in the first place. It is an axis of embarrassment.[19]

Phillips rounds off her contribution by paraphrasing Loftus, and here she finds contentment:

There is now a nuclear axis, he says, between Iran, Syria and North Korea with Russia and China helping to build an Islamic bomb against the West. And of course, with assistance from American negligence. ‘Apparently Saddam had the last laugh and donated his secret stockpile to benefit Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. With a little technical advice from Beijing, Syria is now enriching the uranium, Iran is making the missiles, North Korea is testing the warheads, and the White House is hiding its head in the sand.’ Of course, we don’t know whether any of this is true. But given Dave Gaubatz’s testimony, shouldn’t someone be trying to find out? Or will we still be intoning ‘there were no WMDs in Iraq’ when the Islamic bomb goes off?[20]

Encounter’s people see themselves as the ‘counter-intelligentsia’— ‘Philosopher’ David Stove concludes (literally, he died writing it back in 1994) in his ‘hilarious and razor-sharp inquiry’ that Darwin’s theory of evolution is “a ridiculous slander on human beings.” Allusions to the cold-war abound with a pining for the good-old-bad-old-days. ‘The God That Did Not Fail: Neoconservatism Why We Need It,’ by Douglas Murray for instance is a reference to the anti-communist work of the Congress for Cultural Freedom. This oblique reference to another subsidised propaganda volume attacking communism, is sharpened into chutzpah by ‘A Gift of Freedom How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America’ by John J. Miller:

In the 1970 s, John M. Olin, one of the country’s leading industrialists, decided to devote his fortune to saving American free enterprise. Over the next three decades, the John M. Olin Foundation funded the conservative movement as it emerged from the intellectual ghetto and occupied the halls of power. The foundation spent hundreds of millions of dollars fostering what its long-time president William E. Simon called the “counterintelligentsia” to offset liberal dominance of university faculties and the mainstream media and to make conservatism a significant cultural force. Using exclusive access to the John M. Olin Foundation’s leading personalities as well as it s extensive archives, John J. Miller tells the story of an intriguing man and his unique philanthropic vision. A Gift of Freedom shows how John M. Olin’s “venture capital fund for the conservative movement” helped develop one of the leading forces in American politics and culture.

The over-the-counter-intelligentsia might be a better term. The differentiation of agencies in the US has always been important, but one should also identify single foundations who have a habit of pouring money into influencing politics. That we might conclude that this fact might colour Encounter’s output somewhat and tend it towards what one of their authors, Kevin Seamus Hasson calls ‘The Right to Be Wrong,’ might be reinforced by the conclusion of the catalogue whereupon we read that the whole thing is: “An activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, Inc., a nonprofit, tax-exempt corporation” no venturing out into the harsh realities of the free enterprise capitalism that the conservative movement espouse (for others) as they themselves rely on the noblesse oblige of a millionaire whose money, for all we know, is stashed away in some feudal Duchy. So what? As long as it is used to support the right values or indeed the wrong ones.

Peter Collier was the founding publisher of Encounter Books in California until he resigned in 2005, when it moved to New York City, and he was replaced by Roger Kimball. Collier was co-editor of Ramparts, and more recently a co-organizer of the Second Thoughts conferences for the ex-leftists who had moved to the right, magnetised perhaps by the pull of the Olin Foundation’s ‘Gift of Freedom.’ How government agencies or privately funded propaganda mills plant material in the press used to be something of a mystery or gone largely un-noticed by the average reader but Melanie Phillips’ web site catalogues her work’s themes for us and matches them with the general thrust of Encounter’s output funded, rather handsomely by foundations who have a track record of covert operations..

Funding

According to Media Transparency, its parent company Encounter for Culture and Education received over $4.6 million from a total of 70 grants from foundations between 1991 and 2002. [3]

Foundations that have supported Encounter include conservative foundations such as: John M. Olin Foundation | Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation | Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation | JM Foundation | Shelby Cullum Foundation | Philip M. McKenna Foundation

In 2003 the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation alone contributed $1,150,000 to Encounter Books from its "Intellectual Infrastructure" program.[21]

Personnel

Previous staff

Most of the staff changed when Encounter's operations moved from San Francisco to New York in 2005.

Contact, References and Resources

Contact

Encounter Books
900 Broadway, Suite 400
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-871-6310
Toll free: 800-786-3839
Fax: 212-871-6311
Email: read@encounterbooks.com
Web: http://www.encounterbooks.com
Contact Page: http://www.encounterbooks.com/contact/

Resources

References

  1. Bill Berkowitz, "Kate Coleman and Encounter Books take on Bari, Earth First!, and the 'dead-enders' of the environmental movement", DissidentVoice, 10 March 2005.
  2. Berkowitz, ibid.
  3. Encounter Books, Murders on the Nile, The World Trade Center and Global Terror
  4. Berkowitz ibid.
  5. Kimball, Roger [www.encounterbooks.com/ Encounter Books], Spring/Summer 2008, introduction, p. 3.
  6. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 8.
  7. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 11.
  8. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 14.
  9. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 16.
  10. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2008, p. 18.
  11. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2009, p. 21.
  12. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2009, p. 27.
  13. Encounter Books, Spring/Summer 2009, p. 42.
  14. The New York Times revealed how the Pentagon recruited more than seventy-five retired military officers to appear on TV outlets as so-called military analysts ahead of the Iraq war to portray Iraq as an urgent threat. See: Democracy Now!, democracynow.org for an overview. Many of the key pundits organised the Intelligence Summit along with other neocon figures such as Michael Ledeen.
  15. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  16. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  17. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  18. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  19. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  20. Phillips, Melanie (2007) ‘I found Saddam’s secret WMD bunkers’, The Spectator, April 21.
  21. [1]
  22. Source: Encounter Books About Us page