A mouse that took fright

February 16, 1996

Cambridge University Press's statement ("A publishing mouse?" THES, February 9) that I sought police protection for Anastasia Karakasidou and myself can only be disingenuous. As a responsible supervisor of office staff and students, and as Dr Karakasidou's host in the aftermath of the threats against her, I simply took the obvious precaution of alerting our university police - who, after one academic year, reported that they had found no trace of anything untoward. I reported this information to CUP as evidence of the absence, not the presence (as CUP bizarrely proposes), of any substantial risk.

By contrast, CUP's action in declining to publish Dr Karakasidou's book for fear of terrorist reprisals shows insultingly little faith in the ability of the Greek police to protect CUP staff in Athens against the improbable eventuality of serious trouble. It is, however, entirely consistent with the company's reliance on a remarkably unpersuasive portrait of Athens as more prone to political violence than - for example - London.

Such misuse of the facts should lead your readers to scrutinise CUP's other claims with care. For example, my doubts about the role of the Syndics in this decision were never intended to call their authority into question - quite the reverse. I merely wondered whether the CUP management gave the Syndics sufficient and accurate information on the basis of which to exercise the authority that is indeed theirs - and theirs alone.


Professor of anthropology Harvard University

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