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Pre-publication letter advertising "Spartacus" (1951)

48 West 94th Street
New York 25, N. Y.



Dear Friend:

The two enclosed documents are, I think, a not unimportant piece of the history of our times. The book they refer to is a book I have worked on for a year and a half, and which to me marks a major effort of my literary life. When Mr. Cameron was forced to resign from Little, Brown and Company, this novel was thrown out along with him.

In the subsequent weeks I discovered that no other firm would publish this or any other book written by me, and thereby I am forced to do what certain other authors have had to do at moments of crisis in America. I must either find a way to publish my own work, or give up writing.

To stop writing would be a bitter thing for me to contemplate personally; but more than that, I think that if I were to submit to this kind of censorship and repression, the harm done to many others beside myself would be by no means inconsiderable. However, I do not intend to submit to this. I believe that over the past twenty years enough Americans have come to know and love the books I write, for me to be able to bring out a new book apart from a regular commercial publisher. The only way this can be done is for me to sell a sufficient number of copies in advance at $5. I shall number these copies and autograph each of them. They will be specially bound, and delivered to the people who purchase them before the regular edition is on the market.

I am asking you to subscribe to this book, Spartacus, in advance of its publication. You can do this by putting either a $5 bill or a check for $5 in the enclosed envelope and returning it to me. My plan is less to be a publisher myself than to ask those who read my books to make it possible for me to publish them. There is no other possibility for the publication of my books today. Such a plan could pay most of the costs of publication. The remaining costs I shall supply myself.

I look upon you as a friend. In this I am enormously fortunate, and I can feel that I am asking less for the publication of a particular book than for a blow to be struck against the suppression of so much that is good and vital in American literature.


Howard Fast

The "two enclosed documents" are Angus Cameron's Official Reader's Report and his accompanying letter to Fast.