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Fascinating subject but a printing disaster
on 22 October 2012
Festinger's book about a group of contactees who thought the world was going to end on December 21st is a fascinating read, even if we're talking about 1954 rather than 2012 - it seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Leaving aside the methodological weakness of surreptitiously joining the very group you're supposed to be studying, the story makes for fascinating reading. From his work here Festinger went on to develop the concept of cognitive dissonance that has become widely adopted.
The problem is that the "facsimile" copy on sale here is a real dog's breakfast of a thing: no attempt has been made to tweak the shoddy typesetting on the cover so the book appears to be called "When P rophecy F ails." And the title is set in that most new age of fonts, Papyrus; figuring out how a typeface introduced in 1982 is appropriate for a facsimile edition of a book published in 1956 is generating a certain amount of cognitive dissonance of my own.
Open the book and things get even worse: the inside front cover, frontispiece, copyright and dedication pages are all from a completely different book: "Live, Learn and Be Happy With Epilepsy" by Stacey Chillemi. Festinger's book starts with the table of contents. According to the information on the back page, the printers appear to be "Lightning Source UK Ltd." of Milton Keynes. Didn't anyone there do a quality check when this book was produced?
Festinger's text is complete, so if you're willing to put up with the appalling printing job, you'll be able to read the original work. Anyone else should look elsewhere.