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Right, another thread on very dodgy non-fiction practices. A major British publisher has just come out with a translation of a book by a Spanish antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and has done so knowingly, because to cover it up they've removed passages about the Rothschilds.
No, I can't quite believe it, either, but there we are. About a decade ago, when my agent was trying to sell my first novel in the US, two publishers there were interested: one was Weinstein Books and one was Penguin. I chose the latter! It was Penguin, after all.
You can see my header on here is from the omnibus edition of my first three novels in the States, and there's that little logo on it. It's a logo that's meant a lot to me in my life, as a reader and a writer. That's a brand that means something to me. So what to do?
I'm now going to 'publicly shame' Penguin UK for having done this, but what else can I do about it? Do you think it would make any difference if I raised this with them via email? This is a Penguin error, but I think we're in DEFCON 3 for publishing now, and few have noticed.
It's a little like the situation a few years ago with British broadsheet newspapers. Disbelief at first that they would publish clickbait nonsense. Now we're all used to it. Those brands have been devalued as a result. It's commonplace. Please let's try to stop this with books.
I've got lots of windows open and am still staring in disbelief at some of it, so bear with me. But I think you'll agree this is a pretty serious problem we're facing. As usual, it's about fact-checking, research, due diligence, and not doing them.
Also as usual, this is something that just randomly flew past my Twitter feed and I thought 'Eh?' and looked into it. This isn't some sort of campaign I'm mounting. This stuff is all over the place. Several times this week, in fact.
Yes, I am getting to it. Earlier today, I saw this tweet from David, who I follow and you should as well, and it sent me down a rabbit-hole because I looked at the cover of the book on the left and thought 'Wow. What? Who published that?'
Because that's two for the price of one tropes commonly seen in antisemitic literature: the octopus tentacles as power, and the title 'How They Rule The World'. Presumably that was just unfortunate, I look it up. It's published by Penguin UK. I'm fairly surprised, let's say.
So I looked into the author a bit, Colonel Pedro Baños. He's best described as a Spanish Sebastian Gorka, I think. A military intelligence expert, often in the Spanish media, with political influence (was briefly national security director), and a conspiracy theorist.
He's also a Putin fan, often on the Spanish versions of Russia Today and Sputnik. He tweeted about domestic popularity rating of 74% for Putin: 'Wouldn’t we love to have a political leader half as popular right here in the European Union!!!' Source: elpais.com/elpais/2018/06…
That's a credible source, and it's ringing several more alarm bells. So I dig more and find this interview with him on another Russian website, Fort Russ. And this is conspiracy theory city. fort-russ.com/2017/12/rothsc…
This is a translation of an interview from December 2017 (original: elboletin.com/mvc/amp/notici…). There's enough conspiratorial nonsense in it to realise he's not a credible author Penguin should be going anywhere near, but it ends with this answer from him:
So far that research had taken me 10 minutes' googling. It made the octopus imagery and the title 'How They Rule The World' look very dodgy indeed. The guy's an antisemite. And he is very much on this Rothschild train. eg in this interview last year: latribunadeespana.com/sociedad/coron…
My Spanish isn't great - I have a bad A Level in it - but I could understand it. This Google translation seems to me to be pretty accurate, but you can judge for yourself:
It's standard 'the Jews run the world stuff', with a dash of anti-imperialism thrown in. He claims it here as well: latribunadelpaisvasco.com/art/8234/coron…
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