28 JUNE 1963, Page 10


S1R,—My attention has been drawn to an article 'by Mr. Robert Conquest in the Spectator of April referring to my book Unarmed Victory. The article is characterised by quotations out of context juxtaposed in such a manner as to create an impresSion often opposite to that of the inten- tion of the statement. The factual inaccuracies, which are extreme, as as follows :

1. Mr. Conquest invents a meeting between Senor Haya de la Torre and myself during 'the Cuban crisis. He says, in addition to there having been a meeting, that Senor de la Torre was staying with me at the time. Both these statements are false.

2. Mr. Conquest further claims that I stated to Senor de la Torre that I knew the Americans to be lying about the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. This is entirely invented, both with respect to Senor de la Torre and with respect to my having stated this to anyone.

3. Mr. Conquest further states in the article that in my view the Americans would use any means to bring down Castro, and from, this it followed that they had faked the evidence of missiles. This again is completely untrue. The closest it is possible for Mr. Conquest to come to justify -these statements is that I quoted the Guardian report on a statement by\the Editor of Aviation Week, Mr. Robert Hale, that the range of the missiles was purposely exagger- ated so as to include States from which votes were required. This was my quotation of an American authority and not my own surmise.

4. Mr. Conquest further -alleges that Dr. Corliss .Lamont follows the Communist line. Dr. Lamont is a non-Communist and Mr. Conquest is indulging in a gratuitous smear.

5. Mr. Conquest is also factually inaccurate about what he calls the main theme of Dr. Lamont's book Freedom Is As Freedom Does. Norman Thomas barely figures in the book, and the main theme can hardly be claimed to be an attack on Norman Thomas.

6. The statement that I accepted without check a book on the Rosenberg case shot through with error and misrepresentation is a further misstatement of fact and pure inven- tion. Einstein and I were involved in details of the Rosenberg and Sobell cases well before the publication of any book and my statements on the Rosenberg case depended on no other author. Which book Mr. Conquest had in mind, if any, in this allegation, one is left to guess.

I should be pleased if you would bring these facts to the attention of your readers.


Pins Penrhytt, Penrhpulettdraeth, Merioneth

[Mr. Conquest writes: 'Lord Russell's 1 and 2: Senor Haya .de Ia Torre stated in an agency inter- view given at the end of October, 1962, and printed in a number of papers throughout the world (e.g. National Herald, Lucknow, November 11, 1962), "There is Bertrand Russell, with whom 1 have just spent the weekend in Wales.. .. He was certain that the Soviet missile bases in Cuba were a myth, an American invention. I left him before Khrushchev confirmed the presence of the bases. I wonder what he thinks now." Lord Russell's disclaimer seems carefully phrased; leaving aside definitions of "meeting" and "staying," was there such a conver- sation or not? 3 was not a factual assertion, but a reconstruction of Lord Russell's thought-processes on the basis of the fact I took to be established by Senor Haya's statement. Even in his book Lord Rus- sell admits his scepticism about the rockets, though naturally, not now in such a categorical way. And he also quotes himself as writing at the time that, the purpose of the US being to destroy the Cuban revolution, "America has used every device avail- able to tier short of dropping an H-bomb on the island" leading up to the blockade, "an act of war tantamount to a threat of nuclear war." Conceivably Senor Haya de Ia Torre is wrong, but his report is fully in accord with Russell's way of thinking and in the meantime I shall scarcely be blamed for accept- ing it. '4, 5 and 6: I did not say that Dr. Corliss Lamont was a Communist. But to say that he is "a non-Com- munist" is a truth just about as remote as it is pos- sible to get from the whole truth and nothing but the truth. The British equivalent would be approxi- mately Dr. Hewlett Johnson. The smearer is surely the man (himself a free user of terms like "ferocious and insane murderers" of such political opponents as the President) who accuses another of smearing on the basis of such a quibble—especially absurd when the facts are so widely known. (It is the trickiness of this point 4 that makes me suspicious of Lord Russell's phrasing on other points.) And why should

he sponsor at all a book in which Norman Thomas figures as villain, even if he does not think this was the "main" theme?

'The Rosenberg book I had in mind was Wexley's. I did not say that it was the first Russell had heard of the case. But to check a book against the tenden- tious material you have already received from the sources the book is based on is not to check it. The Sobells left the book with Lord Russell before his assault seven years ago, in the Manchester Guardian, on the American judicial system and the FBI ("the atrocities of whose techniques we have been made familiar with in other police states, such as Nazi Germany and Stalin's Russia"—but it is fair to add

that for this Lord Russell relies also on Corliss Lamont, here described, merely with equal "factual accuracy" as "of the well-known banking family". . . .).'—Editor, Spectator.]