Ita€™s worth taking a moment to examine what Edgar said in that paper, to the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences in Philadelphia that April, because it encompassed not only his professional position but his personal philosophy. His talk discussed free tradea€™s benefits for the American standard of living, and the pernicious effect that economic nationalism after the World War had on America and other nations. This was economics and business, but more than those were on Edgara€™s mind as he addressed the domestic welfare.
Edgar believed that a€?the right to buy and sell freely is a right that all nations would welcome, and [that] there is not one among them that would not choose this peaceful method of raising their living standards rather than the suicidal method of attempted conquest.a€? In light of the next ten years, this could be regarded as excessive economic determinism. When later World War II was underway, this philosophy would inform a critical study done by Edgar and his office for GMa€™s Chairman of the Board, Alfred Sloan, as GM began to look beyond the war to the new and different world being created. Perhaps Edgara€™s humble origins made him more sympathetic than many corporation men to the plight of people being thrown out of work or seeing their salaries drastically cut. Roosevelta€™s inauguration in 1933 spelled no quick end to the Depression, though, and conditions at home made Export Company business more important to GM than ever. But Edgara€™s work in town was demanding, and overseas conditions were growing ever bleaker.
That he was actually not so sure of that privately, however, is suggested by a second action of his at this time.
In short, the increasingly disturbing world scene was on Edgara€™s mind at work and at home. Yet he had never heard of the Baker Street Irregulars, and whata€™s more, he was some time learning about them now. Edgara€™s ardor for the Holmesiana he had discovered in Starretta€™s Private Life had not cooled in the meantime. There is one more point of biographical interest about these early letters between Edgar and Vincent Starrett, though we must not make too much of it without further data.
Several years would pass before the BSI met again, and before Smith and the Baker Street Irregulars got to know each other. 1937 had been a big year for General Motors Export Company, not least because the Opel works it owned had grown from producing 26,000 units a year to 128,000, holding over forty percent of the German market now, and exporting automobiles as well. Osborna€™s grip on the helm was being increasingly challenged by a German executive at Opel, Rudolf Fleischer. As Edgara€™s office watched the crisis reach its peak in the spring of 1938, Graeme Howard, the GM manager for Europe, was directed to abort a trip to India and hurry to Opela€™s executive offices in Germany instead. In the late 1990s, these and other issues led to accusations of GM sympathy for, and collaboration with, the Nazi regime. But Blacka€™s charges against GM and others were taken up by an uncritical press, and class-action lawyers scenting profit whether the charges were true or not. The Opel crisis upset GM not least because Herr Doktor of Laws Fleischer was no unknown quantity to Jim Mooney or Edgar. Difficult as conditions are in this country, however, my work abroad brings me in contact with such utterly distasteful and discouraging things that I still think our hope for the preservation of democracy here, and for the restoration at least in part of the world we used to know, lies in the compromises and reforms that Mr. Seriously, I believe a freer exchange of goods and services among nations, including our own, would go far toward eliminating some of the strangeness in the things around us.
What some of the a€?utterly distasteful and discouraging things abroada€? Edgara€™s work brought him into contact with are made clear by Professor Turnera€™s book. To fend off the creeping Nazi assault on its management and ownership (and to keep one of Opela€™s models in the running for the Volkswagen Hitler wanted for the masses), GM sought allies in what seemed the non-Nazi institution of Germanya€™s armed forces. Edgara€™s reaction to this thought is not on record, but he would hardly have seen things that way.
4 The following month, Edgar, this time on behalf of the Automobile Manufacturers Association, conveyed the same message to a joint committee of five New York City Republican Party organizations, urging a free-trade plank in the GOPa€™s 1936 election platform. 8 General Motors Documents Relating to World War II Corporate Activities in Europe, Box 10, Folder 10069-10099, Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University. 9 For a comprehensive account of Edgara€™s Pamphlet House, see Glen Miranker BSIa€™s a€?Prolegomena to a History of The Pamphlet Housea€? in my Irregular Records of the Early a€™Forties.
10 Published in October 1933, and reviewed in the Saturday Review of Literature by Elmer Davis, though Edgar was not at that time a reader of it. 11 His first Irregular secretary at GM, Rosalie Mouillerat, once called Edgar a€?about the busiest person on earth at the moment,a€? in a reply by her dated December 6, 1940 to a letter from Vincent Starrett to her boss; see my Irregular Records of the Early a€™Forties, p. 15 See Michael Dobbs, a€?Ford and GM Scrutinized for Alleged Nazi Collaboration,a€? Washington Post, November 30, 1998. 16 The blogosphere nonetheless remains rife with allegations that GM was a witting collaborator in everything from creating German military power to use of slave-labor.
A unique way for readers to create a wealth of great books—Get a membership for yourself or for a gift! At the end of 1928 he purchased a second house nearby for his parents, at 42 Southern Slope Drive. In addressing barriers to free trade, he focused primarily on the domestic welfare of his talka€™s title.


He examined the problem of agricultural surpluses, and the positive role they could play in a free-trade system. But he was not blind to political nationalism, and the violence of revolutionary ideology; he had seen both in Europe. Edgar championed free trade with not only idealistic principles but hard economic analysis, for example in a a€?Results of Depreciationa€? letter to the New York Times that was lengthier and more insightful than the newspapera€™s editorial prompting it. In Asia, a militaristic Japan occupying Manchuria withdrew from the League of Nations in 1933, harbinger of more aggression to come. He created Pamphlet House, a private press for items he felt important to circulate further; and its first act was to reprint an essay by the historian Hendrik van Loon, A World Divided Is a World Lost. For relaxation we know that he played tennis avidly, and James Morris said he also liked to build small elegant stone walls with his hands. Starrett was in China when Edgara€™s letter arrived in Chicago, and it was nearly a year before Starrett came home to find it a€” and over a year before Starrett finally managed to answer it at length. Their enthusiastic correspondence that followed is in Irregular Memories of the a€™Thirties. In Edgara€™s letter to him dated December 7, 1937, there is a suggestion that even before he learned of the BSI, he had been holding forth locally since reading The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But in no time at all after that, Smith was increasingly their leader, eventually eclipsing Christopher Morley the BSIa€™s Gasogene but without harming the close friendship established between the two men. 1938 was a big year too, and not only because GM Export became the grander-sounding GM Overseas Operations: 1938 opened with a bitter struggle over control of Opel, for which GM had paid $33,300,000 in 1929. While not necessarily a Nazi himself, Fleischer was using ties to the Nazi Party in the region and in Berlin to marginalize American authority inside and outside the plant. Howard was forty-two years old, a Los Angeles native who bore a certain resemblance to Dashiell Hammett, and a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Business School. GM was not alone in being so charged: Ford, IBM, and other major companies were accused as well.
Fleischer had worked several years in GM Exporta€™s New York offices starting in 1925, the year that Edgar returned from his overseas stint. It saw no way in any event to reject doing defense business with the new regime, and tried instead to obtain some advantage from what seemed inevitable.
Two years later Rudolf Fleischera€™s grab for power gave Howard cause to rethink things, but by then GMa€™s freedom of maneuver in the German police state was growing smaller and smaller. Soul Machine takes us back to the origins of modernity, a time when a crisis in religious authority and the scientific revolution led to searching questions about the nature of human inner life. His father, now sixty-nine, had gone from hatter to clerk, from clerk to book-keeper at Underwood Typewriter, and from that to the National Foreign Trade Council in New York, until far past the usual retirement age Edgar S. He did not lose his job like so many others in the early 1930s, but Peter Spivak pictured him a€?walking through the streets of New York seeing the apple sellers, some of whom he had known in another time and another way.a€? Many men in Big Business supported Herbert Hoovera€™s belt-tightening response to the crisis, and high protective tariffs like the Smoot-Hawley Act of 1930.
He debunked, logically and statistically, with an excellent grasp of economic fundamentals, the belief that employment is harmed by free trade. He warned that denial of free trade would lead to regimentation of industry and agriculture at home.
Roosevelt started his run for the Presidency in 1932, he called for a a€?new deala€? for the American people.
In 1933 Edgar was appointed a vice president of the GM Export Company, and also a director of the American Manufacturing Export Association alongside World War flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, a household name now president of North American Aviation. Edgar also had the habit of reading into the early hours of the morning, constantly expanding his horizons, and enjoying literature.
It prompted Edgar to start collecting, under Starretta€™s guidance, the other canonical scholarship existing at the time a€” that of T.
Ostensibly intimidated more than he probably was by learning of the Baker Street Irregulars, he told Starrett that it had a€?confirmed me in my desire to win a place among the Irregulars. Fleischera€™s continued assaults on Osborna€™s role persisted until it became a firing matter, something that GMa€™s hierarchy and Osborn himself feared could precipitate an outright takeover of Opel by Berlin. He had studied in Germany as a young man, then commanded a machine-gun company in the war against Germany before going to work for General Motors in 1920. In GMa€™s case, leading the charge was a techno-thriller writer named Edwin Black, whoa€™d already published a book accusing IBM of assisting Nazi Germany to carry out the Holocaust.
Those companies and others had done business with Germany in the 1930s, and no doubt had done things they came to regret while attempting to hold onto their interests against usurpation by the Nazi Party or opportunists like Rudolf Fleischer. They had been colleagues before Fleischer returned to Germany, and were once more after Fleischer joined Opel in 1929. As early as 1933, the year Hitler became Chancellor and FA?hrer of the Third Reich, Nazi representatives took control of the factory council representing Opel workers, and the RA?sselsheim plant became the scene of Nazi rallies and mandatory political exhortations of the workforce, with loudspeakers throughout the plant carrying Hitlera€™s speeches during the workday. This included manufacture at its Brandenburg plant of the German Armya€™s a€?Blitz truck,a€? while producing components for the Junkers aircraft company as a sub-contractor. The session was chaired by Republican lawyer Allen Dulles, brother of his partya€™s leading foreign policy expert and a future Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles a€” and himself a future wartime OSS chieftain and a postwar CIA official, eventually the CIAa€™s Director.


This is the story of how a new concept?the mind?emerged as a potential solution, one that was part soul and part machine, but fully neither. Sixteen years later, when Edgar and Elmer Davis called upon President Harry Truman at the White House to present him with a copy of the BSI, Inc. That alone was of tremendous concern to Edgar and his colleagues, for the largest GM holding outside the United States happened to be the Opel works in Germany. But he included a somber note: a€?There are just two things that can stop this trend that is underway. And one day in 1936, perhaps for his birthday, his wife gave him a book she apparently had reason to believe that he would enjoy: The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, by a Chicago newspaperman named Vincent Starrett.
To summarize here: on October 15th Edgar wrote to Starrett (on GM Export Company stationery) a lengthy letter that not only lavishly praised the book, but presented a theory of Edgara€™s own about the date that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. The Opel family remained involved in it with members of the family on its now bi-national board of directors, and to the outside world Opel still appeared a German company despite GM ownership and a GM man, Cyrus Osborn, at its helm there in RA?sselsheim. An able and accomplished negotiator, his career was devoted to GMa€™s overseas interests, and he had the confidence of Edgara€™s superior Jim Mooney in New York. Chiming in from another angle a€” that GM had also set out deliberately to destroy Americaa€™s urban public transit after the war a€” was a House of Representatives staffer named Bradford Snell. In the end, to defend their records, some companies threw open their archives to eminent historians, with free rein to investigate and report. While Graeme Howard on the scene carried the burden for GMa€™s hanging onto Opel, Edgar, as Jim Mooneya€™s right-hand man in New York, found himself involved in a personal way. Opela€™s management was pressed to stop employing Jews or doing business with Jewish firms.
Not Dullesa€™s and Edgara€™s first meeting, though: Dulles had also been a presenter at the previous montha€™s American Academy of Political and Social Sciences in Philadelphia.
In this groundbreaking work, award-winning historian George Makari shows how writers, philosophers, physicians, and anatomists worked to construct notions of the mind as not an ethereal thing, but a natural one. Edgar believed in free trade, and helped found the World Trade League in 1932 in order to campaign for monetary and tariff standards promoting it. Once on the spot, he took over the struggle with Fleischer and his Nazi allies, and after a few months of nerve-wracking machinations managed to preserve GM control of Opela€™s management and board a€” for the time being. In GMa€™s case it was Henry Ashby Turner, Jr., professor emeritus of history at Yale and author of German Big Business and the Rise of Hitler. No doubt Edgar wanted GM to prevail as much as Howard and Mooney did, but how he felt personally is suggested in a April 16, 1938 letter to Vincent Starrett in the middle of the Opel struggle. In 1937, the Nazi Party succeeded in installing an SS reserve officer as the planta€™s security chief, and an informer system throughout the workforce quickly followed.
It was a huge affair and Smith wrote the Declarations for the convention while Beverly and I typed our fingers to the bone.
From the ascent of Oliver Cromwell to the fall of Napoleon, seminal thinkers like Hobbes, Locke, Diderot, and Kant worked alongside often-forgotten brain specialists, physiologists, and alienists in the hopes of mapping the inner world. And he also argued for it publicly in his essay a€?Foreign Trade and the Domestic Welfarea€? in the July 1936 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences. But if Elmer Davis exaggerated a trifle, he was not wrong about Edgara€™s sympathies and political alignment.
The other is an exaggerated monetary disturbance, manifesting itself either in wild inflation or equally wild deflation.
And Turnera€™s resulting General Motors and the Nazis: The Struggle for Control of Opel, Europea€™s Biggest Carmaker, published by Yale University Press in 2005, made Edwin Blacka€™s charges look flimsy. Conducted in a cauldron of political turmoil, these frequently shocking, always embattled efforts would give rise to psychiatry, mind sciences such as phrenology, and radically new visions of the self. Hilton, and Snell was humiliated when Professor Hilton testified before Congress that Snell had egregiously distorted his work in a deeply dishonest way.
Further, they would be crucial to the establishment of secular ethics and political liberalism. In the late 1940s, George Hilton had been an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, and a co-founder of the BSI scion society The Coptic Patriarchs. Boldly original, wide-ranging, and brilliantly synthetic, Soul Machine gives us a masterful, new account of the making of the modern Western mind.
It launched, during his busiest years at GM, a long period of scholarly research and writing unimaginable in terms of modern-day BSI leadership.



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