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Report from Iron Mountain Paperback – June 16, 2008

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Editorial Reviews Review

From 1963 to 1966 the U.S. government assembled a team of prominent thinkers from all walks of life to determine what would happen if "peace broke out." The group, surprisingly but with unassailable logic, determined that war was necessary and desirable and that the government should do all it could to maintain the status quo. If peace became inevitable, the report suggested everything from creating an outer-space menace to setting up some new, socially acceptable form of slavery. The report was leaked in 1967 by a conference member harboring a guilty conscience, and it scandalized Washington.


The ultimate compliment for any form of political satire is to be taken seriously by the people it is skewering. On that scale Report from Iron Mountain, which has been a lightning rod for both Right and Left since its appearance, could hardly be more successful. The hoax, written in perfect think-tankese, captures the mix of Olympian detachment and awesome cynicism that has flowed out of Washington for much of the American Century. Lewin's book (and he really did write it) exposes the mindset that we can thank for Vietnam and so much else.

Report from Iron Mountain was bolstered, if not trumped, by reality--the Pentagon Papers and the Pax Americana, a Defense Department plan to take over Latin America, emerged soon after. But the book's enduring popularity, particularly among those who never got the joke (apparently Lewin had to sue to get right-wing groups convinced of the book's authenticity to stop printing and selling copies) suggests that the governmental worldview that Report from Iron Mountain lampoons--as well as the paranoia that that immorality unleashes in the citizenry--is very much with us. --Michael Gerber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Kirkus Reviews

When this was first published in 1967, Kirkus's reviewer wrote, ``If it is a fraud, it is a clever one . . . if not, it is a chilling case for the necessity of war as policymakers see it . . . and will provide magnificent fodder for radicals et al.'' Well, this controversial volume did turn out to be a fraud (Lewin's fellow hoaxster Victor Navasky, in his introduction, prefers to call it a satire), and it did provide fodder for radicals--not radicals of the left, as expected, but radicals of the right. This supposedly censored government report, to the effect that the US economy is geared to war and thus peace would be disastrous, seems to feed the loony paranoia that infects the Liberty Lobby, the Michigan Militia, and their cohorts. So why is the Free Press reissuing it? Is it to keep the right-wingers from continuing their unlicensed reproduction of the text and earn royalties for those who deserve them? Is it an indulgent remembrance of youthful journalistic escapades past? (Navasky makes it clear he hasn't lost his puerile glee in putting one over on the New York Times). It's hard to know who will have the last laugh with this one. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Bridger House Publishers Inc (June 16, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979917638
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979917639
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #642,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Rev4u VINE VOICE on April 1, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hoax or reality, this report sheds a clear light on the process of elitist thinking and planning. It did not only predict but planned our future. The present situation in the world is the greatest proof of the authenticity of this report.

It's a book worth reading. If you find it buy it...
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By J T Kelly on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I originally encountered this book over 25 years ago (maybe earlier). I have continually referred it to particular friends over the interevening years. I just recently told a political affairs "junkie" about it. This report fascinated me way back then and has stayed with me through the years. I was rapt from start to finish and defy anyone to willingly abandon it in the middle. The answer to the question: "Is peace desirable?" would seem obvious. If there were any answer other than yes, what would be the justification? The end(?) of the cold war did not bring a breakout of peace. This exposition anticipated that peace could conceivably bring as many or more problems than war. Sound bizaare? The report makes it VERY plausible. Sweet dreams!
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104 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Mark D. Whitaker on November 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
It's very real.

The foreword is only by Leonard Lewin. He is not the author. It was first published by the Dial Press, NY.

It is not a novel, but rather a report written by the members of a 15-man "Special Study Group" commissioned, they believe, by some governmental entity which wished to remain unknown. The report is addressed to that unknown requestor, the work of the group having been com­pleted after about two and a half years of labor. The members of the group knew that they had been care­fully screened and selected for the task, that they represented the highest levels of scholarship, experi­ence, and expertise in a wide range of the physical and social sciences, that they possessed years of service in business, government, and academe, and that among them they had access to a vast proportion of the country's resources in the social and physical science fields. The Special Study Group was clearly possessed of outstanding establishmentarian credentials.

The book comes to us because one of the members of the group, identified only as John Doe, approached Mr. Lewin several months after the com­pleted report had been submitted, and sought his help in getting the report commercially published, since he ("Doe") felt that the public had a right to be apprised of its existence, even though the group had previously agreed to keep it secret. Mr. Lewin, having agreed to serve in that capacity, wrote a foreword spelling out these circumstances and passing on what little he learned from "Doe" concerning the study's origin and its participants.

He further revealed his personal reaction to the conclusions of the report, conclusions which he said he does not share.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Brian on March 17, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too much time is wasted discussing whether Report From Iron Mountain (RFIM) was a hoax or not. This latest edition comes with 20 pages of Foreward by Leonard Lewin and Victor Navasky (of "Naming Names" fame), laboriously drumming out why RFIM should be dismissed as a hoax. In my opinion, they doth protest too much, but regardless what you choose to believe, RFIM provides sufficient references in the endnotes to substantiate its contents, however they may have been intended.

The premise of this document is that a special Cold War-era think tank (the "Special Study Group", or SSG) was tasked with evaluating what challenges the USA would face if a prolonged peace occurred. To assess the impact, the SSG outlines the role of war in society. As you might guess, war is a foreign policy device: a tool-of-last resort to enforce policies, advance national goals, protect/defend territories, etc. Somewhat less intuitive, however, are the "secondary benefits" of war (Section 5, beginning p.51):
1. Economic- the defense (war) sector of the economy is completely under the control of the government, and is relatively protected from the boom/bust cycles of the private sector. Thus, defense spending (via civilian contracting) is a powerful tool with which the government can stimulate or moderate the domestic economy.
2. Political- the threat of external enemies tends to unite the public, quell dissent and bolster support for the sitting regime. The widespread domestic support for George W. Bush in the days immediately following 9/11 seems to illustrate this point sufficiently.
3. Sociologic- service in a standing army provides a socially and legally sanctioned mechanism for people with violent tendencies (and even criminal records!) to channel their energies.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By New Age of Barbarism on May 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
_Report From Iron Mountain: On the Possibility and Desirability of Peace_ first appeared in 1967 published by The Dial Press and claimed to be a government report compiled by leading scholars who met at Iron Mountain in New York on the possibility and desirability of peace following the Cold War. This edition is published by the Free Press in 1996 and makes the claim that the report itself was a hoax (a spoof on think tank jargon) and was written by Leonard C. Lewin. However, whether or not the report is actually a hoax is difficult to determine, as disinformation is a speciality of the government agencies which release such reports. It should be noted though that even if the report itself is a hoax, that it nevertheless represents the kind of thinking that is typical of the elites. Unfortunately, in the Introduction to this book, written by Victor Navasky, we are treated to the usual establishment apologetics with much fustian about "paranoid ultraright conspiracy theorists", "militiamen", and "right wing libertarian weirdos". Such commentary is all-too-typical and should be simply ignored by anyone who has a working brain and dares to think outside the box. The report itself composes the majority of this book, followed by an afterword by the "author" and some appendices on the "Iron Mountain Affair". It is alleged that when L.B.J. discovered that this report had been "leaked" that he "hit the roof". And, this represents the typical reaction of government officials to those who dare to challenge their reigning hegemony.

The report claims for itself to have been received by Leonard C. Lewin from one "John Doe", who leaked the report to him after it was compiled by 15 leading scholars who met in secret.
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