Earlier this month, we looked at some upcoming books where the authors and publishers are clearly hoping to get caught in Dan Brown‘s wake, as they explore themes of Freemasonry and American history that are generally assumed to be important thematic elements in The Lost Symbol. So when a new Tarcher/Penguin edition of Manly P. Hall‘s The Secret Destiny of America (combining two texts from 1944 and 1951), we couldn’t shake a weird feeling of déjâ vu, but we figured it was purely thematic—until we got home and took another look at the cover to Mitch Horowitz‘s all-new Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, one of the books in our initial item. Both covers prominently feature, against a vellum-like background, the image from the Great Seal of the United States popularly known as “the eye in the pyramid,” which has the more esoteric name of “the all-seeing eye” or “the Eye of Providence.”
As it happens, Horowitz is also the editor in chief at Tarcher, so we asked him about the situation, and he emailed back to remind us that, while the house may be selling Manly P. Hall a bit more overtly than usual as Dan Brown’s publication date nears, this particular cover design for The Secret Destiny of America has actually been in use for some time, and he assured us that no similarity was intended between the cover of that book and his own. “I encouraged using the eye-and-pyramid on the jacket to Occult America since that image is so perfectly suited to the subject and is discussed in the book,” he explained. “It’s one of the most alluring images in American history.”
(And it’s true: If you’re going to write about occult-tinged versions of American history, you’re going to wind up talking about the Great Seal of the United States at some point.)
Horowitz added that the two covers used different versions of the Great Seal’s eye-in-pyramid imagery (we’ve blown the two elements up so you can see for yourself, and “beyond that,” he said, “I felt that other elements were significantly divergent.” Given all the additional imagery on the Occult America jacket, that sounds reasonable to us… but we can’t help wondering if we’re going to be seeing the Eye of Providence again before this bookselling season is over?