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Topping the Secret

In response to:

How to Be an Underdog, and Win from the November 21, 2013 issue

To the Editors:

Several readers of my review of Malcolm Gladwell’s David and Goliath [NYR, November 21, 2013] have asked me for information about the Oregon Trail report. My account of it in the review, based on my memory of events forty-seven years ago, is incomplete and misleading. I read it at the Rand Corporation, but it was not a Rand report. It was a US Army report, and its official designation is Project OREGON TRAIL, Final Report, USACDC No. USC-6, February 1965. Volume 1, Main Report, TOP SECRET RD. The full report consisted of two parts, the historical part that was the biggest part and ought to have been published separately, and a war-game part that described war games carried out at Rand and at Research Analysis Corporation that were legitimately secret. The decision that I am protesting is the decision to lump the two parts together and classify the whole package as TOP SECRET. I am grateful to Lon Jones and Ashutosh Jogalekar for letters stimulating me to dig out these facts. As usual, I learn from my mistakes only after the review is published.

Freeman Dyson
Princeton, New Jersey

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