The Story So Far…
SMALL PRESSES COME AND GO. THIS ONE IS BACK, and—with the support of its readers—intends to stay.
It started with a story told by a man in prison, an unlikely story about the underground world of arms merchants and international politics, of duplicity and double agents. It was an intriguing story. We followed where it led on a fascinating journey of discovery on both sides of the Atlantic. By the time we were done we had Bordering on Treason, a fifty page pamphlet—and The Pamphleteer's Press.
The big idea was to revive the tradition of the political pamphlet on provocative, evocative, burning issues of the day. Therefore, when Christopher Hitchen's published his piece "Why Bosnia Matters" in The Nation the following year, we knew we had the makings of our next pamphlet.
Christopher had written an impassioned plea for the survival of Bosnia at a time when the region was being 'ethnically cleansed' by Serb nationalist forces who had also laid siege to the city of Sarajevo, the quintessential heart of the multiethnic, multi-faith country. The international community had imposed an arms embargo on all parties to the conflict, which essentially meant that the poorly equipped Bosnians were unable to defend themselves against heavily armed Serbian forces who had inherited the weaponry of the Yugoslav military. The Bosnians were being massacred while the world watched.
The pamphlet became a book, Why Bosnia? Writings on the Balkan War, and Christopher's piece part of an anthology of essays, memoirs, interviews, and poetry contributed by an international set of writers who wanted the world to understand why it was imperative that Bosnia survive the collapse of Yugoslavia. The first print run sold out, and the book went into its second printing, and its third.
Sadly, Bosnia after the war was no longer the place it once was. The Dayton Peace that the international community finally imposed on the country set the seal on its de facto partition. The Pamphleteer's Press published two more books on Bosnia and the war that overwhelmed it—a memoir by Kemal Kurspahić the editor of Sarajevo's embattled newspaper, Oslobodjenje, and a detailed legal argument (co-published with NYU Press) for the indictment of the Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević for war crimes at The Hague. All three books, in different ways, are still relevant today.
Thereafter came books on other subjects. In response to the Clinton administration's failed attempt at health reform we published an argument for a single-payer system, The Rational Option, by co-founders of Physicians for a National Health Program. Despite the Affordable Healthcare Plan introduced by the Obama administration—or, perhaps, precisely because of its failings—it is still the rational option.
Hiroshima's Shadow, a scholarly ground-breaking book published on the 50th anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, challenged the established narrative underpinning the rationale for the dropping of atomic bombs over Japanese cities. In a world still awash with nuclear weapons (with the United States and Russia, between them, armed with about 16,200 of the known stockpile of 17,300 weapons on the planet) and persisting fears over further nuclear proliferation, Hiroshima's Shadow provides a salutary historical perspective on how it all began and why we need to achieve total nuclear disarmament before it is too late.
The imperative of ridding the world of nuclear weapons led to our collaboration with Robert Green, a former Commander in the Royal Navy in charge of nuclear weapons in the service of his country. Commander Green has written a powerful critique of the doctrine of nuclear deterrence that underpins the arguments for possession and possible use of these weapons by major nuclear powers, including the United States and Russia and the United Kingdom. His book, Security Without Nuclear Deterrence, has been published, but, sadly, not by us. The Pamphleteers' Press—a part-time labour of love, passion, commitment and hope that started with a pamphlet and went on to publish big books—could no longer survive on a wing and a prayer.
But, with the support and encouragement of our readers, our friends, we are back. We intend to publish books, yes, but also pamphlets by journalists, writers, poets and philosophers who have something powerfully compelling to say about the world we live in, and are not afraid to say it. The point, after all, is not merely to interpret the world, but to change it.