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Subject: Angus Cameron, 93, Editor Forced Out in McCarthy Era

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Date Posted: November 23, 2002 11:55:49 EDT

Angus Cameron, a former editor in chief of one of America's foremost publishing houses, whose leftist sympathies forced him to resign during the anti-Communist fervor of the 1950's, died on Monday in Charlottesville, Va. He was 93.

Mr. Cameron was top editor at Little, Brown, the publisher of J. D. Salinger, Lillian Hellman and Evelyn Waugh. In his eight years there, he gained a reputation for his keen appreciation of authors' creativity and the public taste. When C. S. Forester wanted to stop writing his Horatio Hornblower series, Mr. Cameron inspired him to keep it going.

A born storyteller, a master of classical allusion and a connoisseur of dry gin martinis, he also made a mark with nonfiction books. His authors won Bancroft, Francis Parkman and Pulitzer prizes.

But in 1951 Mr. Cameron, who belonged to many leftist organizations and spoke publicly about his beliefs, came under scathing criticism from conservatives. Little, Brown asked him to clear his outside activities with the company. He refused and resigned, and he and his family embarked on outdoor adventures about which he later wrote books.

But first, to redress political grievances, he joined with a partner to form a publishing company in 1952. In 1955 he and the editor Albert E. Kahn published "False Witness" by Harvey Matusow, a paid informer who confessed to having falsely accused 200 people of being Communists or Communist sympathizers.

Don Angus Cameron was born in Indianapolis on Dec. 25, 1908. His paternal grandfather taught him about nature when the young Angus visited his farm, and his maternal grandfather told him stories about being blacklisted when he led a strike by streetcar drivers in 1905.

His mother imparted a love of cooking, and one of the first books he edited was "Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer, published in 1936 by Bobbs-Merrill. In his last job, at Alfred A. Knopf, he published Julia Child's first cookbook.

He graduated from DePauw University, where he was introduced to the writings of Marx. After college he attended meetings of the John Reed Club, a national literary organization sponsored by the Communist Party, but did not join, said Jonathan Coleman, who is writing a biography of Mr. Cameron. His first publishing job was with Bobbs-Merrill.

At Little, Brown, which he joined in 1938, he helped persuade Mr. Salinger to allow his picture to appear on the dust jacket of "The Catcher in the Rye," a permission the author reversed for the second printing. When his superiors at Little, Brown were willing to offer Norman Mailer only an option for "The Naked and the Dead," Mr. Cameron advised him to go to another publisher.

In 1947 Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., the historian whose "Age of Jackson" had been published by Little, Brown, brought a copy of George Orwell's "Animal Farm" to the publishing house for consideration. A savage satire on the Soviet Union, Orwell's book was rejected, and Mr. Schlesinger, a leading anti-Communist liberal, blamed Mr. Cameron.

After leaving Little, Brown, Mr. Cameron moved his family to a house in the Adirondacks and the next year set off on an adventure with an Alaskan bush pilot. Mr. Cameron and his family netted whitefish, and the pilot flew the catch to Eskimos, who paid 45 cents a pound.

Mr. Cameron and his wife, the former Sheila Smith, were married for 63 years. She died in 1998. He is survived by his daughter, Katherine Larson of Staunton, Va.; his son, Keith, of Gill, Mass.; and four grandchildren.

The Camerons' wilderness adventures were brief. The flames being fed by Senator Joseph R. McCarthy were spreading, and Mr. Cameron "felt that he had fled the argument," Mr. Coleman, the biographer, said.

Mr. Cameron returned to urban life in May 1952, and he and Mr. Kahn started their publishing house. They heard about Matusow's book, and wanted it. "We decided, hell, we'll get that book, we can make these bastards eat crow," Mr. Cameron said in an interview in an oral history by Griffin Fariello, "Red Scare: Memories of the American Inquisition" (Norton, 1995).

Mr. Cameron testified several times before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and the House Un-American Activities Committee, citing the First Amendment guarantee of free speech and the Fifth Amendment protecting against self-incrimination for most questions.

As the national battle over naming names died down, Alfred A. Knopf of the Knopf publishing house hired Mr. Cameron in 1959. He collaborated with an editor there, Judith Jones, on a game cookbook, "The L. L. Bean Game and Fish Cookbook," called "the definitive work" in the field in an unsigned review in The New York Times in 1983. They recommend that more than one dove be included in an entree because the birds are so small. There are two woodchuck recipes, baked young in sour cream and mustard, and oven-barbecued.

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