Lost Symbol information on Twitter: @lostsymbol
Last month I mentioned a story in The Scotsman which quoted Masonic authority Robert Cooper as saying that the plot of The Lost Symbol had been leaked, and that it would revolve around the theory that George Washington was actually a Tory (English) sympathiser, and was a traitor to the Revolutionary cause.
In the comments to a story I posted yesterday, a certain 'Lapu Marie' has now claimed to be Cooper's source for the plot leak, and offered evidence of links on various websites from earlier this year (April) at which they announced the plot details:
The rumors of a plot leak from Dan Brown’s newest book, The Lost Symbol, seem to be true. Doubleday Publishers confirm it. The new book will apparently center around George Washington and secret reason for the American reverses early in the Revolutionary War. Washington, a true and clandestine Tory, was secretly communicating Colonial war plans to the British via Benedict Arnold, Washington’s secret illegitimate son.
Does Robert Cooper know this person, as they claim - which would add some legitimacy to their plot leak - or did he just crib the theory from the website comments made in April?
There are several things that would make me very suspicious of this supposed Lost Symbol exposé. Firstly, when this 'plot leak' was posted at Publisher's Weekly, a Doubleday representative explicitly denied it was the plot, saying it was "someone's imagination run wild. It is NOT the plot summary of THE LOST SYMBOL." Having said that, Doubleday might be expected to react that way if the plot was blown so early on. Secondly, this so-called 'rogue editor' (website now deleted) responsible for the 'leak' is very careful to keep their identity secret, but is willing to say that they work for a publisher in New York, they specialise in editing books on occult themes, and they were given Brown's manuscript for The Lost Symbol to cast their eye over earlier this year. If Doubleday can't figure out the 'secret identity' from those facts, I don't know what it would take. (I'd also ask why they posted on Publisher's Weekly with a valid email address belonging to an organization in Alberta Canada...that's a big no-no if the email address is not theirs).
But perhaps most basic of all is that the 'plot leak' suggests that Benedict Arnold was Washington's illegitimate son. Given that Washington was only 8 years old when Benedict Arnold was born, this sounds like a historical error that Dan Brown (and certainly a genuine book editor) would not make. Unless 'Lapu Marie' has an explanation for that 'twist'?
Update: In the comment to this story, Perceval suggested Lapu Marie could be an anagram of Paul Maier, Professor of Ancient History at Western Michigan University and author of The Da Vinci Code: Fact or Fiction?. Apparently, this "George Washington as Traitor" story is straight out of that book. Check out this PDF file discussing the book (or use Amazon's Search Inside feature on the book itself, using 'Benedict' as your keyword):
Dr. Paul Maier, noted historian and professor of ancient history at Western Michigan University says...“Imagine that someone were to write a novel about George Washington, the nation’s founder, rather than Jesus Christ, the church’s founder. At the start, the author assures the reader that all his material is based on fact, then goes on to present the following scenario:
While doing research at Mount Vernon into the life of the father of our country, a veteran scholar is murdered. While dying, he leaves a long trail of intricate clues for his granddaughter and a friend so that they might avenge his death. After solving the clues despite their Byzantine complexity, the two finally learn an awful truth: George Washington was really a member of a secret society that worshiped King George III of England and his queen, Charlotte Sophia. In fact, the reason for the American reverses early in the Revolutionary War was that Washington, a true but clandestine Tory, was secretly communicating Colonial war plans to the British via Benedict Arnold, Washington’s secret illegitimate son. At Yorktown, while awaiting a British support fleet, Washington was preparing to surrender to Cornwallis, but when De Grasse arrived with his fleet of French ships to aid the American side, Washington had to accept Cornwallis’s surrender instead.
At the end of his life, Washington’s conscience got the better of him, and he wrote a confession that was buried with him in his tomb at Mount Vernon. The scholar who discovered it was then murdered by the CIA, who feared that his find would destroy the patriotic mystique of America’s founding father and demoralize the country. When the FBI and CIA learn that the granddaughter and her friend know the awful truth, an all-points bulletin is issued for the pair.
After a harrowing series of misadventures, the two escape capture. But no, they will not reveal the ‘truth’ about Washington either.”
Maier concludes, “Readers with only a smattering of knowledge about American history but a great appetite for conspiracy might well buy into such worthless madness, since it contains just enough tangential truth – real people, real places, real situations – to be credible...Dan Brown has accomplished a very similar hoax, successful largely because so many today have ‘only a smattering knowledge’ about Jesus and Christianity.
The only questions now are: did Paul Maier post this, or was it someone else (an Alberta resident, going by the email address supplied to Publisher's Weekly) who simply admired Maier's theory, even to the point of using his name as an anagram? And: why did Robert Cooper suggest this as a storyline - has he read this book and was just having some fun, or did he jump on the comments made in April and claim them as his own?
Update 2: Paul Maier has told me via email "I know nothing about this", and described the idea as "off-the-wall".