Past Features

September 5, 2015

Destruction of Western Civilization?
42-year-old book -- "bilious tirade" or prescient?

Left: Camp of Saints -- 1973
Right: Migrants wait to board a cruise ship as they leave the Italian island of Lampedusa to be transported to Sicily on April 17, 2015.
American Patrol Report -- September 5, 2015   
Camp of the Saints
    The Camp of the Saints (Le Camp des Saints) is a 1973 French apocalyptic novel by Jean Raspail. The novel depicts a setting where in Third World mass immigration to France and the West leads to the destruction of Western civilization. Almost forty years after publication the book returned to the best seller list in 2011. The title is a reference to the Book of Revelation (Rev 20:9).
    In 1975 Time Magazine panned the novel as a "bilious tirade" that only required a response because it "arrives trailing clouds of praise from French savants, including Dramatist Jean Anouilh ('A haunting book of irresistible force and calm logic'), with the imprint of a respected U.S. publisher and a teasing pre-publication ad campaign ('The end of the white world is near')". Jeffrey Hart in the National Review lauded the novel, stating" in freer and more intelligent circles in Europe, the book is a sensation and Raspail is a prize-winner.... his plot is both simple and brilliant". In 1983, Linda Chavez declared she was "appalled" at the novel, and called it "racist, xenophobic and paranoid". The December 1994 cover story of The Atlantic Monthly focused on the themes of the novel, analyzing them in the context of international relations. (This was at about the same time that The Social Contract Press chose to bring it back into U.S. publication.)
    In 2002 Lionel Shriver described the novel as "both prescient and appalling," certainly "racist" but "written with tremendous verbal energy and passion." Shriver writes that the book "gives bilious voice to an emotion whose expression is increasingly taboo in the West, but that can grow only more virulent when suppressed: the fierce resentment felt by majority populations when that status seems threatened."
    William F. Buckley, Jr. praised the book in 2004 as "a great novel" which raised questions on how to respond to massive illegal immigration. In 2005 the conservative Chilton Williamson praised the book as "one of the most uncompromising works of literary reaction in the 20th century." In 2001 the Southern Poverty Law Center described it as "widely revered by American white supremacists and is a sort of anti-immigration analog to The Turner Diaries."
    The book returned to the best seller list in 2011.