Twelve Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure (1929) / William Bolitho

You may have heard that in July 2016, Elon Musk happened to casually mention he had been reading a rather obscure book entitled Twelve Against the Gods: The Story of Adventure by the famed South African journalist and author William Bolitho. He did not actually discuss the book, nor did he elaborate any further upon this choice of reading material except to say that he found it to be a rather enjoyable read. Yet, the simple fact of Musk having very concisely mentioned this title resulted in an almost instantaneous hysteria by his fans to rush to Amazon and other online booksellers in pursuit of this book, driving prices upward in excess of one hundred-dollars, where before the average price for a decent, readable copy had been less than ten dollars. Naturally, the sycophant journalists in the mainstream media reported on this as if it were a monumental occasion of global importance, which only fueled the hysteria.

What none of these writers and talking heads bothered to mention was how Elon Musk became acquainted with this book, given its immense obscurity in our culturally and ethically bankrupt times. The answer to that is L. Ron Hubbard, who in an interview with a Colorado newspaper in 1983, revealed that Twelve Against the Gods was his most favorite work of nonfiction, and in particular the introduction, which he considered to be “particularly good.” This would not surprise anyone who has actually read it, and there is quite a bit of fascinating subtext related to this matter to be discovered in its pages. After all, Hubbard began his professional career as a globetrotting adventurer in his early youth, and achieved significant renown as an author of pulp fiction due to his prodigious and unparalleled output of adventure stories (which also includes Westerns, war stories, and tales of international espionage and intrigue, among other related subgenres of classic pulp), which form the overwhelming majority of his fictional canon.

For the dedicated bibliophile, the original 1929 edition is a priceless addition to any private library, but certainly not at the prices many sellers have been pushing for since the Elon Musk incident. Already, as of January 2017, prices have begun to fall slightly and as the novelty attached to the book due to Musk continues to wear off, likewise the market value will follow suit and thus should not be bought with any expectation that it will appreciate in monetary value, let alone be able to maintain its current value.

Given that the book is in the public domain and may be freely reproduced and distributed, and due to a few unscrupulous individuals trying to profit from the sale of ebook versions that were produced through the efforts of an anonymous volunteer who did so without any desire to sell them and who was certainly not paid for their labor, we are providing here three digital editions that may be downloaded free of charge and redistributed without limitations.


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