Over the March 28 weekend, all of us at The Permanent Press (Judy, Rania, Cathy, and I) were aglow as we traveled to Boston for the PEN/Winship and PEN/Hemmingway Award ceremonies at the JFK Library to celebrate Kermit Moyer’s winning the Winship Award for his novel The Chester Chronicles. It was the third time in the past seven years that one of our writers won this prize, with Edward Delaney winning it in 2004 for Warp & Weft, and K.C. Frederick winning in 2006 for Inland. The glory started in the weeks leading up to this event when three other novels on our 2010 list were also cited for literary excellence. To Account for Murder, by William Whitbeck won the Michigan Notable Book Award while Liza Campbell’s The Dissemblers is one of the finalists for ForeWord Magazine’s Literary Fiction Award. And Georgeann Packard’s Fall Asleep Forgetting, was named one of five finalists for two Lambda Literary Awards: their Bisexual Fiction Award and also for the Lesbian Debut Fiction Award.
At the same time that we were basking in this good news, it was hard not to think about the nuclear meltdowns and radiation dangers coming from the damaged nuclear reactors in Japan particularly since, in 1980, we published Karl Grossman’s Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed To Know About Nuclear Power, with a second edition in 1982. Karl personally gave the book to Governor Mario Cuomo who thereafter challenged—successfully—the opening of the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island. Karl’s revelations resulted in a setback for the cozy relationship between the energy companies, governmental agencies, and officials that kept assuring the public that they were safe when their own memos made it clear this was not the case.
When Cover Up first came out, here's what Publishers Weekly had to say about it:
"Closing with testimony by leading environmentalists here and abroad, Grossman's powerfully documented book is tough-minded evangelism for the anti-nuke movement. A veteran reporter for newspapers, radio and TV in New York, winner of journalism's George Polk Award, Grossman crams into this text facsimile documentation ordinarily found in appendixes. A growing phalanx of writers, including Nader, John Gofman, Commoner et al, have developed the evidence that peacetime nuclear power presents great hazards, immediate and long-term, on a world wide scale. Grossman describes (with excellent photos, drawings, etc.) how nuclear power works and how disasters can happen. From inside sources including statements by federal and corporate officials, he makes a strong case for the view that giant nuclear energy corporations have taken extreme measures to hide the shocking facts about nuclear power, and are now stalling development of other energy sources in order to protect their huge investments."
We sold 18,000 copies of Karl’s book in a three year period and then, in the past decade, let it go out of print. The result is that all the reporting about the catastrophe in Japan focuses on the dangers posed by the current crisis, but few people under 50 know how this disingenuous and dangerous technology got started and why. And already, we are being assured that Japan’s plants are not like ours, and ours are far safer, when in fact none of them are safe.
When the meltdowns and radiation leaks emerged in Japan, I asked Karl if he wanted to do an update for a possible third edition, and he wrote a 14 page preface bringing things up to date, showing, for instance, how President Obama’s chief advisors, Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod, have profited financially from the nuclear energy industry and that his energy secretary, Steven Chu, emerged from the U.S. governments national nuclear laboratory system as an advocate for using nuclear power. My hope was that we could interest a large publisher to take a reissue on as a public service, but we could find no one interested in doing this as a quick and timely release.
A front page story written by Eric Lichtblau in The New York Times on Friday, March 25, told the story of how Pete Dominici, a four term Senator from New Mexico (with one of the worst environmental records in Congress), became the front man sponsoring the reemergence of the nuclear power industry after Chernobyl, when most lawmakers felt future plants were dead in the water. But with massive campaign contributions from the energy companies (always a source of his campaign funding), their lobbyists, and public relations people, Dominici became the political front man for a campaign to soothe public fears with the same tall tales and deceits that Grossman had earlier documented, and to keep taxpayer subsidy money flowing into these energy companies.
I sent an email to Lichtblau along with a PDF file of the projected third edition, telling him that the material Karl unearthed back in the late 70's proving industry and government collusion was worthy of a Pulitzer Prize if he, Eric, can keep digging and letting citizens know the full history of this energy source, how it began, and how it continues to lobby and lie about safety.
I’ve not heard back from Lichtblau, but want to keep going forward. And it seems to me, and to Karl Grossman as well, that the best thing we could possibly do is to give Cover Up away immediately. It's that important and that timely! So here’s the deal: read this book for free on your computer or by printing out the PDF file, and send it along to everyone you know, by email, Facebook, Twitter, and blog, and encourage them to do the same thing. Just click on this link and let us, collectively, go viral with this information.
We’re not interested in making a nickel off Cover Up. Let William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, make a profit from 20-year-old Bristol Palin’s ghost written Not Afraid of Life due out this summer. Our passion in publishing has always been the good feeling that comes from doing worthy books, which trumps profits any time.
Hope to hear back from you.