Correspondence with Harvard University Press
[Editor note: MIM received the following letter from Harvard University Press "Black Book of Communism" editor and translator Mark Kramer, on February 26th. Note that Kramer does not promise an erratum for now but does promise to correct the mistakes in subsequent printings of the book, which is apparently due in paperback.
As of February 26th, still none of the bourgeois press has seen fit to respond to our press release on this matter. We can only marvel at how it is possible for all the Establishment academics and journalists to let this slide so long when the book came out in 1999 and received such widespread acclaim. MIM itself also makes mistakes and publishes errata on pages 2 and 3 of MIM Notes, but here we are talking about overestimating deaths by a factor of 10 and that is the whole reason this book is so famous, Courtois's claim that communism killed 100 million. How many people--people working in academia and the media full-time--read these errors without fixing them and why? These are the kind that brag about a "free press" and "freedom of thought," but in reality it means the right to obscure the causes of death for millions of people--like the freedom to recommend chicken soup for AIDS instead of protease inhibitors. MIM does not believe this sort of self-censored bourgeois "freedom" is what it is cracked up to be or we would not be in the year 2001 and having to correct these mistakes in a world famous book published in 1999.]
Harvard University Press sent me your e-mail correspondence about The Black Book of Communism. The points you raise in No. 1 and No. 2 are certainly correct. My original translation of these passages used the European symbol for "per thousand" (as the French edition did), but evidently the typesetter wasn't accustomed to the symbol and read it as "percent" rather than "per thousand." I should have noticed the erroneous switch when I looked over the galley proofs. I appreciate your drawing the misprint to our attention. It will be fixed in the next printing of the book.
Director, Harvard Project on Cold War Studies
Senior Associate, Davis Center for Russian Studies
Cambridge, MA 02138
See and sign the petition to Harvard University Press
Read another example of the epidemic of misplaced decimal points: Harvard Government Chair Roderick MacFarquhar
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