Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date



"Gordin (history, Princeton Univ.; Red Cloud at Dawn: Truman, Stalin, and the End of the Atomic Monopoly) presents here an account of what has become known as the Velikovsky affair. Immanuel Velikovsky, a Russian catastrophist who published Worlds in Collision in 1950, ignited a national controversy when he argued that Jupiter ejected Venus like a comet nearly 20,000 years ago and the passing planet caused Earth's orbit and axis to change, thus spurring the natural disasters mentioned by early mythologies and religions around the world. Gordin, who is remarkably evenhanded, tells the story of the man, his extraordinary ideas, their reverberations in academia and scientific communities, and their eventual discrediting through the present day. VERDICT This won't put an end to the debates that rage between legitimate scientific research and other fringe doctrines, but it does lay the Velikovsky affair to rest with fairness and clarity and will help to put into perspective many of the controversies swirling around today's scientific landscape. A good read for those interested in the history of science or pseudoscientific theories."


This review was originally published in Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions, volume 18, issue 1, in 2014. It is available in JSTOR at DOI: 10.1525/nr.2014.18.1.123.

Peer Reviewed



University of California Press



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