By NICHOLAS WADE WILLIAM BROAD
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I do not want to be misunderstood here: these astronomers, geologists, and other scientists despised those claims, insisted they were deeply and utterly wrong, and minced no words in saying so. But the main target of their fury was not Velikovsky—he was a secondary target, to be sure—but Macmillan itself. The scientists objected to the press’s involvement with this book and took additional umbrage at its vigorous (and effective) publicity campaign, which they unwittingly abetted through their angry outpourings.
61 And so Worlds in Collision cleared peer review and was released to the American public. the book review gauntlet Now it faced the book reviewers. Scientists’ reviews of Worlds in Collision were unanimously negative. In fact, the negative reviews preceded the book’s publication by months and started with attacks on Larrabee’s article in Harper’s. The most widely cited and discussed critique was penned by Harvard astronomer Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who worked with Harlow Shapley. 62 No page proofs were forthcoming, so Payne-Gaposchkin made do with Larrabee.
Putnam had related Velikovsky’s account of the Joshua story while the book was still in press—along with the surprising claim that Velikovsky believed that Central American myths of an especially long night, halfway around the world from the Middle East, were correlated with the Joshua story, thus indicating a common event. Allen enjoyed relating the anecdote at cocktail parties. When Macmillan began circulating materials about Worlds in Collision in late 1949, another editor at Harper’s, Merle Miller, recalled the story, obtained the page proofs of the book, and assigned Larrabee to serialize it.