Sunday, November 25, 2007

Behold the Pale Librarian

I have scored a copy of Behold the Pale Horse by William Cooper for some lucky inmate. We routinely tell inmates the book is not available, due to its cost--not to its content. It is perhaps the most requested "undeliverable" book in our program. What a windfall to have a copy fall into our hands.

Cooper tells the kind of story many inmates--especially those remotely connected to illegal drug traffic--want to read. Cooper alleges covert government involvement in drug deals, citing secret operations that occasionally blow up in the perpetrators faces (like the Iran-Contra scandal.) As an added titillation, UFO hoaxes are discussed. Cooper sees them as a way to throw the public into a state of panic in which citizens give up their constitutional rights. The book points out how larger powers of search and seizure are granted to police and federal agents, which is a story of great interest to people in jail. (Photocopies of top secret documents pertaining to Assassinations and Military Rule are scattered throughout the book.) Things and people discussed in the book have gained even more power since the book was published in 1990. Some have danced away from any public scrutiny of their conflicts of interest. Your run-of-the-mill conspiracy theory book is usually less prescient than this tome.

As librarians who rely on donations of social science and history that often give glowing accounts of "The Greatest Generation," this book offers a glimpse at the dark side of that patriotic furor. Criminality from the top down! Cooper's villains certainly glow, but with a more radioactive hue. There is really no way to rule it out based on blatant falsehoods or racist innuendo. It doesn't surrender to these "lowest common denominators" to attract its audience.

The worlds of Public Library and Jails Library do not always mesh. This blog cites many examples of censorship by the Sheriff's Department. I hope this book does not meet that fate, because it would certainly be nixed only on the basis of its political content--however "planted" or "fake" that content might be. Whatever happens, it still costs a bundle and we aren't going to run out and buy it. But it should keep one lucky inmate reading through the night.