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Publisher drops book on Hiroshima bombing

Henry Holt is dropping publication of “The Last Train From Hiroshima” after the author Charles Pellegrino failed to adequately answer questions about a source in the book and the revocation of his PhD more than 25 years ago.

The action comes after Pellegrino admitted last week that he was duped by a different source. The author said he was removing all references to that fraudulent source and correcting any false information the source provided.

In the latest development, Pellegrino said Henry Holt insisted he provide the name of a priest mentioned in the book under a pseudonym. The priest, identified as Father MacQuitty, admitted that he presided over a burial on hallowed ground for another priest, Father Mattias, who had committed suicide after years of mental anguish over the Hiroshima bombing. Pellegrino said in an interview he wanted to protect the pseudonymous priest who is quite elderly. “He could get in trouble for doing what he did,” he said.

Henry Holt also questioned the existence of Father Mattias and was not satisfied with the author’s response.

Pellegrino said the publisher wanted him to explain why his 1981 PhD from Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, was revoked in 1984. He said his PhD dissertation focused on a measuring technology used in the study of evolution. The degree was revoked, Pellegrino said, when he got caught in the middle of a battle between creationists and evolutionists at the university. The merits of his work were not in question, according to Pellegrino. “People who should have been defending me threw me to the wolves,” he said.

Henry Holt said it will not pull the book from the shelves. It is, however, ending its relationship with the author and it will not print or ship any more copies.

“The author of any work of non-fiction must stand behind its content,” the publisher said in a statement. “We must rely on our authors to answer questions that may arise as to the accuracy of their work and reliability of their sources. Unfortunately Mr. Pellegrino was not able to answer the additional questions that have arisen about his book to our satisfaction.”

Pellegrino is seeking to acquire the paperback rights and hopes to publish a corrected version.

By Steven E. Levingston  |  March 1, 2010; 2:41 PM ET
 | Tags: hiroshima bombing book; fraudulent souces in hiroshima book  
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