Charles Patterson’s powerful and important book, Eternal Treblinka, was rejected by 83 (!) publishers before Lantern Books agreed to take the risk of publishing a relentlessly researched account of the shared roots of human and animal exploitation named after Isaac Bashevis Singer‘s observation that “for animals it is an eternal Treblinka.” (Treblinka was a Nazi death camp.)
In Eternal Treblinka, which you really should read if you haven’t yet, Patterson surveys the deep history of animal exploitation before going on to explore the specific question of how “our treatment of animals” helped to set the stage for the Holocaust. This is not some simplistic “It’s just like the Holocaust!” or “It’s just like slavery!” argument but, rather, an intellectually nuanced and carefully expressed inquiry into the origins of one of the most horrific episodes in human history. In my view, Patterson’s book, along with Alice Miller‘s work on German patterns of child rearing/abuse, provides essential context within which to ask, “How did this happen? How might we stop it happening again?”
Now in its third printing, Eternal Treblinka has been translated and published in Israel, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, Poland, Croatia, the Czech Republic, and Serbia, with translated publication in Spain and Latin America underway and Russian, Slovenian, and Arabic translations on the way. So, let’s give it up for Lantern Books, which got the ball rolling by picking up the book in the first place. Lantern was also Wangari Maathai’s first U.S. publisher, printing her book about the Green Belt Movement long before that movement made her the first African woman and first environmentalist to win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Lantern also published Aftershock and, while I don’t dare put my book into the category of those two, the same principle of publishing something because it needs to be said, regardless of the bottom line, was at work. The book was actually publisher Martin Rowe’s idea, launched after he read an article I wrote and thought that it might be expanded into a book that would be substantially helpful for social change activists. Thus anybody who has found the book helpful needs to thank Martin, not me.
I mention all of this both because I’ll be speaking with Charles Patterson, which is always a delight to do, at the upcoming AR2008 conference and also because Martin Rowe just posted a piece on the Lantern blog reminding us all that, while not technically a non-profit, they don’t make any money and do need help to keep going. One way to help out Lantern while also helping your local community (or a fellow activist) is to buy one of their books for a local library, IndyMedia center, or political prisoner.