Robert Collins: A busy, controversial summer, for emeritus historian

Historians in the News

This has been a busy summer for Robert Collins, emeritus professor of history at UC Santa Barbara, who's supposedly retired. In July Cambridge University Press decided to pulp his book on terrorism financing after a Saudi billionaire named in the book threatened to sue for libel, putting Collins in the middle of an international storm involving important questions of censorship . Now he is preparing to head to Washington DC next week to brief high officials in Congress and the State Department about the Sudan, the subject of several of his books.

The State Department is paying for the trip. But Collins will also be giving a seminar to officials brought together by Representative Frank R. Wolf (R-VA), a senior member of the Appropriations Committee. "One agency pays my way to Washington," Collins told HNN, "and then all these other agencies piggy back." Collins has frequently briefed officials in Washington about terrorism. He says Wolfe has had an interest in the subject since the 1990s.

Collins's book on terrorism financing, Alms for Jihad (co-authored with J. Millard Burr, a former State Department analyst), was reviewed in advance of publication by the publisher's libel lawyers. It therefore came as a shock, he says, when he was informed in July that Cambridge would be pulping all copies of the book. (The publisher even asked libraries to pull the book from the shelves.)

Mr. Collins is preparing an article for HNN about the controversy. It will appear in September.

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