Angus Cameron; Helen Travis
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Sat Nov 23 07:59:57 MST 2002
NY Times, Nov. 23, 2002
Angus Cameron, 93, Editor Forced Out in McCarthy Era, Dies
By DOUGLAS MARTIN
Angus Cameron, a former editor in chief of one of America's foremost
publishing houses, whose leftist sympathies forced him to resign during the
anti-Communist fervor of the 1950's, died on Monday in Charlottesville, Va.
He was 93.
Mr. Cameron was top editor at Little, Brown, the publisher of J. D.
Salinger, Lillian Hellman and Evelyn Waugh. In his eight years there, he
gained a reputation for his keen appreciation of authors' creativity and
the public taste. When C. S. Forester wanted to stop writing his Horatio
Hornblower series, Mr. Cameron inspired him to keep it going.
A born storyteller, a master of classical allusion and a connoisseur of dry
gin martinis, he also made a mark with nonfiction books. His authors won
Bancroft, Francis Parkman and Pulitzer prizes.
But in 1951 Mr. Cameron, who belonged to many leftist organizations and
spoke publicly about his beliefs, came under scathing criticism from
conservatives. Little, Brown asked him to clear his outside activities with
the company. He refused and resigned, and he and his family embarked on
outdoor adventures about which he later wrote books.
But first, to redress political grievances, he joined with a partner to
form a publishing company in 1952. In 1955 he and the editor Albert E. Kahn
published "False Witness" by Harvey Matusow, a paid informer who confessed
to having falsely accused 200 people of being Communists or Communist
Don Angus Cameron was born in Indianapolis on Dec. 25, 1908. His paternal
grandfather taught him about nature when the young Angus visited his farm,
and his maternal grandfather told him stories about being blacklisted when
he led a strike by streetcar drivers in 1905.
His mother imparted a love of cooking, and one of the first books he edited
was "Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer, published in 1936 by
Bobbs-Merrill. In his last job, at Alfred A. Knopf, he published Julia
Child's first cookbook.
He graduated from DePauw University, where he was introduced to the
writings of Marx. After college he attended meetings of the John Reed Club,
a national literary organization sponsored by the Communist Party, but did
not join, said Jonathan Coleman, who is writing a biography of Mr. Cameron.
His first publishing job was with Bobbs-Merrill.
At Little, Brown, which he joined in 1938, he helped persuade Mr. Salinger
to allow his picture to appear on the dust jacket of "The Catcher in the
Rye," a permission the author reversed for the second printing. When his
superiors at Little, Brown were willing to offer Norman Mailer only an
option for "The Naked and the Dead," Mr. Cameron advised him to go to
In 1947 Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian whose "Age of Jackson" had
been published by Little, Brown, brought a copy of George Orwell's "Animal
Farm" to the publishing house for consideration. A savage satire on the
Soviet Union, Orwell's book was rejected, and Mr. Schlesinger, a leading
anti-Communist liberal, blamed Mr. Cameron.
After leaving Little, Brown, Mr. Cameron moved his family to a house in the
Adirondacks and the next year set off on an adventure with an Alaskan bush
pilot. Mr. Cameron and his family netted whitefish, and the pilot flew the
catch to Eskimos, who paid 45 cents a pound.
Mr. Cameron and his wife, the former Sheila Smith, were married for 63
years. She died in 1998. He is survived by his daughter, Katherine Larson
of Staunton, Va.; his son, Keith, of Gill, Mass.; and four grandchildren.
The Camerons' wilderness adventures were brief. The flames being fed by
Senator Joseph R. McCarthy were spreading, and Mr. Cameron "felt that he
had fled the argument," Mr. Coleman, the biographer, said.
Mr. Cameron returned to urban life in May 1952, and he and Mr. Kahn started
their publishing house. They heard about Matusow's book, and wanted it. "We
decided, hell, we'll get that book, we can make these bastards eat crow,"
Mr. Cameron said in an interview in an oral history by Griffin Fariello,
"Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition" (Norton, 1995).
Mr. Cameron testified several times before the Senate Internal Security
Subcommittee and the House Un-American Activities Committee, citing the
First Amendment guarantee of free speech and the Fifth Amendment protecting
against self-incrimination for most questions.
As the national battle over naming names died down, Alfred A. Knopf of the
Knopf publishing house hired Mr. Cameron in 1959. He collaborated with an
editor there, Judith Jones, on a game cookbook, "The L. L. Bean Game and
Fish Cookbook," called "the definitive work" in the field in an unsigned
review in The New York Times in 1983. They recommend that more than one
dove be included in an entree because the birds are so small. There are two
woodchuck recipes, baked young in sour cream and mustard, and oven-barbecued.
Helen Travis, Activist Who Won Case on Right to Travel, Dies at 86
By WOLFGANG SAXON
Helen Levi Travis, a peace and social activist and the subject of a 1967
Supreme Court ruling that upheld her right to travel abroad, died on Nov.
14 in San Pedro, Calif. She was 86.
Born in Manhattan, Mrs. Travis graduated from Barnard College in 1937. A
student trip to the Soviet Union in 1934 impressed her with the promises of
socialism, and after graduation she started traveling extensively with her
first husband, Abbott Simon, a leader of the radical left-wing American
In the wake of the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the German-Soviet treaty of
1939, the couple established a clandestine "safe house" outside Prague to
hide anti-Fascist activists from Spain, Italy and Czechoslovakia.
She returned to the United States, where she taught English, worked in an
automobile assembly plant and wrote for the Communist Party organ, Daily
Worker. Her brief marriage ended in divorce, and she met and married Robert
C. Travis, a principal organizer of the bloody 44-day sit-down strike in
Flint, Mich., of 1936-37, which forced General Motors to accept the United
Automobile Workers as the strikers' bargaining agent.
Mrs. Travis had her encounter with the government in the 1960's, when the
federal courts were inundated with suits trying to sort out who might be
permitted to travel where. She was charged with visiting Cuba twice in 1962
without a passport stamped valid for that destination.
She was found guilty, given two suspended six-month sentences and fined
$10,000. A federal appeals panel upheld her conviction, but the Supreme
Court threw it out in 1967 along with a docketful of similar travel-curb cases.
The Travises had moved to Southern California in the late 1950's, where
Mrs. Travis was a caseworker for the Los Angeles Department of Social
Services. She also headed the Fellowship for Social Justice of the First
Unitarian Church of Los Angeles and was active for many years in El
Rescate, a private legal and social-services group for Central American
Mr. Travis died in 1979. Mrs. Trav is survived by a stepdaughter, Carole
Travis of Chicago. Also surviving is Mr. Simon, a resident of Brooklyn.
Louis Proyect, Marxism mailing list: http://www.marxmail.org
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