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The Washington Post Sunday Magazine
23 March 1975 


The Professor Who Knew Too Much

Borrowing a few crucial pages from his book, the ultra-right made a scholar an unwilling hero.


By Rudy Maxa 

Collage (below) by Allen Appel, based on a photo by Matthew Lewis.



Greetings, Dr. Quigley: With reference to your book, Tragedy and Hope, at which I am presently directing much of my energies, I would appreciate a short explanation as to why you generally approve of the conspiracy. I enclose a self-addressed envelope for your convenience.

-- from a letter postmarked Rahway, N.J.

In 1966, Macmillan Company published the history of the world between 1895 and 1965 as seen through the cool, gray eyes of Carroll Quigley, a professor of history at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. The 1,348-page tome, called Tragedy and Hope, was a commanding work, 20 years in the writing, that added to Quigley’s considerable national reputation as a historian.

But though he had no way of knowing it, Quigley had just written his own ticket to a curious kind of fame. He was about to become a reluctant hero to Americans who believe the world is neatly controlled by a clique of international bankers and their cronies. He was about to learn of the country’s awesome appetite for believing a grand conspiracy causes everything from big wars to bad weather.

Strangers would soon call to bend Quigley’s ear about secret societies. Insistent letters from Rahway, N.J., among other places, would clutter his desk. And eventually, Tragedy and Hope would be pirated by zealots who would sell the book in the same brochures that advertise such doomsday products as “Minutemen Survival Tabs,” concentrated vitamin tablets to help patriots survive sieges by foreign enemies.

It was the John Birch Society that really catapulted -- or dragged -- Quigley front-and-center into the conspiracy picture. Just before the 1972 primary, voters in New Hampshire opened their mail and found copies of a breathlessly-written paperback, None Dare Call It Conspiracy. The book, researched, written and recommended by Birch Society members, warned that public figures as different as John Gardner and Henry Kissinger were part of a conspiracy centered around the Establishment’s unofficial club, New York’s Council on Foreign Relations.


The Professor Who Knew Too Much - Carroll Quigley
For identifying “a power-mad clique (that) wants to control the world,”
Quigley was labeled “the Joseph Valachi of political conspiracies.”

None Dare Call It Conspiracy used exclamation points, charts of power networks and heavy rhetoric to awaken Americans to their diminishing freedoms. And much of the hoopla was based on a mere 25 pages from Quigley’s book which, None Dare Call It Conspiracy said, “revealed the existence of the conspiratorial network” of a “power-mad clique (that) wants to control and rule the world.” Quigley was “the Joseph Valachi of political conspiracies” for fingering the bankers and power brokers -- the Insiders.” And a photograph of Quigley shared a page with no less than financier J. P. Morgan.

John Birch Society President Robert Welch predicted distribution of 15 million copies of None Dare Call It Conspiracy, part of a “gigantic flare from educational materials called forth by the emotions and events of a crucial election year.” As copies began to spread across the country, Quigley began to grasp what the selective, unauthorized quotation from his work could mean. The approach to history taken by the authors of None Dare Call It Conspiracy offended Quigley’s scholastic sensibilities. Worse, he found he could not fight back against the misinformation he felt was being disseminated with the aid of his research and his name. “It blackened my reputation,” Quigley said, “amongst scholarly historians who are going to say, ‘Oh, he’s one of those right-wing nuts.’”

Professor Carroll Quigley -- B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., all from Harvard in the ‘30s -- is a trim, engaging man who points to his good-sized nose and broad, high forehead with some pride. The physical characteristics mark him as a Carroll and a stroll past the statue of Georgetown University’s founder, John Carroll, points up the resemblance.

Quigley does not descend directly from those Carrolls, the landed Marylanders who were influential enough in the Revolutionary years to have a signature on the Constitution. Instead, Quigley’s maternal ancestors were the less affluent Carrolls left behind in Ireland who only got around to making it to Halifax a few generations ago. On his father’s side, the Quigleys were so poor they couldn’t even wait for the potato famine to leave Ireland for Boston in 1828.

Quigley talks genealogy with a historian’s precision, spins family stories like a true Irishman, and more: he understands, and tells his listener he understands, how his past shaped him. Young Carroll Quigley lived on the edge of the Irish ghetto in Boston and mixed it up in the streets with Yankees, Italians, Russian Jews and a few blacks, a melting pot of a childhood that Quigley says cast a strong base for his adult writings and teachings.

He cultivated the spirit of the Irish and honed the intellectual interests of the Yankees while attending the Boston Latin School, whose list of distinguished graduates stretches from Benjamin Franklin to Leonard Bernstein. Harvard came next in a natural sort of way and Quigley intended to go into science until he decided "there were a lot a good people in science but nobody good in history."

He kept current in science but formally attacked history; he was no slouch in either. Quigley's Harvard tutor in medieval and ancient history, the late Donald McKay, told him he could be Harvard's first summa cum laude graduate in history in seven years -- "You could be a summa!" he exhorted Quigley -- but the undergraduate chose instead to settle for a magna cum laude for fear of
shortchanging his emotional development.

After teaching stints at Princeton and Harvard. Quigley came to Georgetown University in 1941 and became an on-line resource for Washington. He lectured at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the Brookings Institution, the Stare Department's Foreign Service Institute and consulted with the Smithsonian and the Senate Select Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences.

To those duties and to his teachings he brought his holist philosophy, the belief that knowledge cannot be divided into parts, that the world can be viewed only as an interlocking, complex system. The philosophy complemented his life: he had reveled in the traditions and contrasts of his neighborhood, eschewed the summa in favor of keeping his emotional and social development on track,
and applied himself to science and economics as well as history. His passion to consider the “big picture" never cooled.

Quigley has no small regret that some of the best minds of his generation insist on treating the world in a 19th Century fashion by tinkering with its problems as a mechanic looks at an engine: spreading the separate parts on the floor and considering each one to find the malfunction. This reductionist way of thinking, Quigley maintains, has gotten Western civilization into all kinds of trouble.

We cluck our tongues about inflation while stores offer expensive Christmas goods with liberal credit schedules that don't call for a first payment until spring. We bellyache about accumulating trash and energy shortages but spend precious little discovering how garbage can become an energy source. That kind of small thinking annoys Professor Carroll Quigley. It annoys him almost as much as if someone took the narrow view that a clique of "Insiders" controlled the world.

The historian's mind remembers the summer of '43 well: the temperature topped 90 degrees 59 days that year, and one stretch lasted 15 days. Quigley, still so Boston formal that he kept his suitcoat on during lectures, was charged with teaching the history of the world to 750 military personnel who had just finished their heavy mid-day meal. Five days a week, for one year, Quigley stood in Gaston Hall and prepared the soldiers for the military occupation of the countries in the European theater that the Allied forces expected to conquer.

From those frenzied months of preparing for his crash courses grew Quigley’s eight-pound Tragedy and Hope. The title reflects his feeling that "Western civilization is going down the drain." That is the tragedy. When the book came out in 1966, Quigley honestly thought the whole show could he salvaged; that was his hope. He will not say as much today.

The section in his history that was to so fascinate the political right concerned the formation of the Council on Foreign Relations and the actions of several famous banking houses. Quigley broke some new ground in his research in the late 1940s; 20 years later the right seized Quigley's findings and drew some broad conclusions.

Quigley had noticed that many prominent Englishmen and outstanding British scholars were members of an honorary society called Fellows of All Souls College. While Quigley was studying the 149 members, a former Fellow visited Washington to speak, Quigley began chatting with him about the Fellows of All Souls College. You mean the Round Table Group, the visitor said. What Quigley asked, is the Round Table Group? After considerable research, Quigley knew.

"I learned the Round Table Group was very influential,” Quigley says. "I knew they were the real founders of the Royal Institute of International Affairs and I knew they were the founders of the Institute of Pacific Relations. I knew that they were the godfathers of the Council on Foreign Relations. So I began to put this thing together and I found that this group was working for a number of things.

"It was a secret group. Its members were working to federate the English-speaking world. They were closely linked to international bankers. They were working to establish what I call a three-power world: England and the U.S., Hitler's Germany and Soviet Russia. They said, 'We can control Germany because it is boxed in between the Atlantic bloc and the Russians. The Russians will behave because they're boxed in between the Atlantic bloc and the American Navy in Singapore.’ Now, notice that this is essentially a balance of power system," Quigley says.

None Dare Call It Conspiracy, using Quigley's data, attributed to the Round Table Group a lust for world domination. Its sympathies were pro-Communist, anti-Capitalist, said the Birch Society book.

"They thought Dr. Carroll Quigley proved everything." Quigley says. "For example, they constantly misquote me to this effect: that Lord Milner (the dominant trustee of the Cecil Rhodes Trust and a heavy in the Round Table Group) helped finance the Bolsheviks. I have been through the greater part of Milner's private papers and have found no evidence to support that.

"Further, None Due Call It Conspiracy insists that international bankers were a single bloc, were all powerful and remain so today. I, on the contrary, stated in my book that they were much divided, often fought among themselves, had great influence but not control of political life and were sharply reduced in power about 1931-1940, when they became less influential than monopolized industry.”

Tragedy and Hope received mixed, though generally favorable, reviews. Opined the Library Journal: "Mr. Quigley . . . has written a very remarkable book: very long, very detailed, very critical, very daring and very good.... His coverage of the world is amazingly encyclopedic and well-balanced." Saturday Review was less flattering: "For those who approve of this way of writing history, his rambling volume may have a certain excellence.” Said the New York Times: "The book provides a business-like narrative in which an incredible amount of information is compressed -- and in some cases presented -- with drama and distinction.”

But from the right, Quigley earned kudos for nailing the seminal data on the Round Table Group that helped found the Council on Foreign Relations. His dispassionate presentation, however, did not sit so well. While Quigley's findings earned him pages of quotation (in apparent violation of copyright laws), None Dare Call It Conspiracy sniped: “... the conspirators have had no qualms about fomenting wars, depressions and hatred. They want a monopoly which would eliminate all competitors and destroy the free enterprise system. And Professor Quigley of Harvard, Princeton and Georgetown approves!"

“You see,” Quigley says, "originally the John Birch periodical had me as a great guy for revealing everything. But then they became absolutely sour and now they denounce me as a member of the Establishment. I'm just baffled by the whole thing.”


None Dare Call It Conspiracy           The Naked Capitalist

Quigley was first quoted by Gary Allen, the author of None Dare Call It Conspiracy, in a 1968 book called Nixon: The Man Behind the Mask. Then, an instructor at Brigham Young University in Utah, a Cleo[n] Skousens, wrote The Naked Capitalist and again quoted Quigley extensively. But None Dare Call It Conspiracy was the big seller. Nearly five million copies of the book have been sold to date, according to the publisher, Concord Press in California, and a new German language edition is selling well.

Author and Birch Society member Gary Allen is one of Quigley's biggest fans, but he laughs a huge laugh when told Quigley is the most reluctant of heroes. Of course, says Allen good-naturedly, the Establishment could not be pleased Quigley revealed so much about a Council on Foreign Relation, which prefers to swing its weight quietly.

"They don't like this thing talked about because it is the real power structure," Allen says from California. "Dr. Quigley let the cat out of the bag. He had the liberal academic credentials. I'm sure a lot of people are very unhappy with him for telling tales out of school.

Allen did not talk to Quigley before he began quoting from Tragedy and Hope because Allen understood from "some intelligence people in Washington" that Quigley was arrogant and unapproachable. "So I took him at his word that he had had access to the private records of the Round Table Group,” Allen says. "Now he’s trying to duck the importance of what he wrote by saying
we picked only a few pages out of a 1,400-page book."

After the books came the letters. Brother Nelson Goodwin, a self-styled Nevada "hobo" evangelist was moved last summer to take pencil in hand and write, "Brother Carroll: I have heard somewhere that ‘Snake Eyes Joe Enlai’ and ‘Mousey Dung’ and ‘Snake in the Grass Fidel Castro’ all received their poison atheistic doctrine in the Universities and Colleges of America. Thank God for Men like you who love our Beautiful United States, the finest nation on the earth. “ Others, like the writer from Rahway, wanted to know why Quigley "approved of the conspiracy." Quigley has gotten handy at fielding the curve balls.

"You can't believe what people think,” he says. "Some believe it is all a Jewish conspiracy, that is part of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion which we now know were perpetuated by the Czarist Russian police force in 1904. And that this conspiracy is the same thing as the Illuminati, a secret society founded in 1776 in Bavaria. And that the Illuminati are a branch of the Masons. There are some people who say the Society of Cincinnati, of which George Washington was a member during the American Revolution, was a branch of the Illuminati and that's why the Masons built their monument in Alexandria to George Washington, since he was a Mason and head of the Illuminati before he helped start the Society of Cincinnati. See what I mean?"

If he chose to, Quigley could probably spend the rest of his life battling the people who are using his research to bolster their own conclusions. But he has narrowed the battle to stopping the illegal publication of Tragedy and Hope.

For reasons not clear to Quigley (but he does not attribute it to any conspiracy), Macmillan stopped publishing Tragedy and Hope alter it sold 9,000 copies. Suddenly pirate editions began appearing, almost exact photo-reproductions with identical dust jackets and binding. The original book had yellow-edged pages, a touch either missed or considered too costly by whoever decided to begin offering Tragedy and Hope on the sly. Carroll Quigley quickly became a right-wing underground sensation.

"We have discovered a limited quantity which we offer to informed patriots on a first come, first served basis for only $20 each,” read one brochure offering the pirate copies. "For the first time, one of the 'insiders' of the international 'elite' gives a candid account of the world of monopoly capitalism. Not easy reading, but it is essential reading for those who consider themselves in-depth students of the conspiracy."

Quigley hired a lawyer who managed to stop at least one of the pirate presses. Then, working through an intermediary, Quigley sold a West Coast press the right to re-print 2,000 copies of his book to retail for $25 each, from the Georgetown University bookstore. As long as the right insists on selling his book, Quigley reasons he might as well get his piece of the action. He has no such interest in jumping aboard the conspiracy bandwagon.

"I generally think that any conspiracy theory of history is nonsense," Quigley says, "for the simple reason that most conspiracies that we know about seem to me to be conspiracies of losers, people who have been defeated on the historical platforms of public happenings. The Ku Klux Klan had. its arguments destroyed and defeated in the Civil War but because it was not prepared to accept that, the KKK formed a conspiracy to fight underground.

"Now, there is not the slightest doubt that the international bankers have tried to make banking into a mystery. But we are dealing with two different things. I don't think that is a conspiracy; because something is a secret does not mean it is a conspiracy."

The seductive beauty of believing the world is in the grip of one conspiracy or another, however, is that any argument against a conspiracy is simply proof of how clever the conspirators are; red herrings are only a mark of the cunning of the conspirators, says the true believer.

Quigley is weary of tilting with conspiratorial windmills. He is 65 and intends to retire after this academic year. He has books unfinished. None of which, he hastens to add, have to do with conspiracy.

On his farm in West Virginia, Quigley is working on a book on the relationship of weapon systems to the stability of the world. He rests there on weekends and gardens between writing. But still the calls come, many from Texas, Florida and California, Quigley notices. One conspiracy hound called and talked for 20 minutes. Quigley finally said he had to return to his work.

"Just one more question," the caller said. "Just tell me this: why is Nelson Rockefeller a Communist?"
"I don't know," replied Quigley evenly. "I don't think he is but if you know he is and you want to know why he is, why don't you call him up and ask him."


Scans of original article

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