The Secret of the West

Le Secret de l'Occident
Genesis and Commercial Career
(David Cosandey: Le Secret de l'Occident, Arléa, Paris, France, October 1997, isbn 2869593368)
(David Cosandey: Le Secret de l'Occident, Flammarion, Paris, France, September 2007, isbn 9782081203631)

I started working on the book early in 1991. My oldest Word files on my Macintosh computer date back May 1991. At the time, I quietly planned six months for writing what should have been a 150-200 pages book. In the process of writing, however, I realized that lots of exact dates, names, places were missing. I had to search for them, which cost time. Similarly, some logical steps had to be added or refined.

Worsening the delay, I discovered that my theory, which I had first thought valid only to explain the scientific and industrial revolution in Western Europe 1500-1800, was in fact a very general theory of scientific progress, valid for the whole of the history of the West from Ancient Greece all the way up to the post-Cold War era. It was similarly valid for the Middle East, India and China from the beginnings until now... This requested supplementary chapters about Greece and about the Modern World. As well as lengthy extensions regarding other civilizations. I wound up finishing the first version in July 1995, just before my 30th birthday.

All this time, I had been research assistent at the Lausanne Institute of Technology, at Lausanne, Switzerland, completing a doctoral thesis in cosmological models with a professor at Berne University, at Berne, Switzerland. The relaxed schedules and vast, open-access, libraries of the academic community made it possible to pull off both tasks together.

On Summer 1995, I had 8 copies of my manuscripts printed as paper-back booklets. I sent the 8 booklets simultaneously to different editors. As soon as one copy came back, I would send it to another publisher. So that at any given time, there would be about 7 manuscripts audited at publishers' houses. Three editors expressed sincere interests, while refusing to take on my text for fear of insufficient sales. Indeed, I was an unkown author, proposing a very ambitious theory, in a heavy and costly 400p-book...

On September 24, 1996, though, I was lucky enough to receive a donation of 10,000 Swiss francs from the Veillon Foundation to support publication. I had sent my application in June. The production of a book such as mine typically cost a publisher 20,000 Swiss francs. This subvention thus made all the difference and triggered acceptance by two of the interested publishers. I chose Arléa in Paris, France. Arléa was a satellite of Le Seuil, one of France's largest editor, and it relied on the same distribution network as Le Seuil. The contract with Arléa about The Secret of the West bears the date of my meeting in Paris with Jean-Claude Guillebaud, Arléa's manager: November 20, 1996.

I thought the work was over. In fact, it was only beginning. Working closely together with the correctors at Arléa, I had to reread my 500p-book about 6 times... At the time, I was no longer research assistent at some university, but full-time employee at a commercial bank, with much heavier schedules. Plus I had just gotten one child. Several week-ends were consumed to my disarray and my wife's.

But at last it went out!


In October 1997, 940 copies of Le Secret de l'Occident went out onto bookshop's shelves in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec. On September 27th, I had my first copy at home in the hands. On October 3th, I spent a day in Arléa's offices to sign 60 promotion copies of the book for journalists. On October 14th, the book was available for sale in bookshops. Like for all first birthes, the father almost thought the world would suddenly stop go round. So important was the event. But, as a matter of fact, the planet went on just like before.

The book did not perform as well as the author had imagined. After one year out on the shelves, about 910 copies had been sold – decomposed in 940 initially distributed copies, minus 720 returned copies, plus 690 new orders. A rather modest figure for a book pretending to bring up the most important breakthrough in centuries to our understanding of mankind's history... It was a slight disappointment. However, there were some good news, too: I was invited to hold conferences in high-profile circles in France, Switzerland, Germany. I published articles about the rich states system theory in respectable journals and even a new booklet summarizing the theory. Some very high-level supports showed up. Some top politicians, some university professors, some high-level journalists expressed respect and even acceptance of my "rich states system theory".

Most importantly, The Secret of the West survived commercially. It regurlarly sells more copies. In a era when a typical book goes out of shelves, out of memory and out of reserves in three to six months, mine lived on. It sold about 5 to 10 copies a month... for years' time. It still is commercially alive, as can be inferred from the sales statistics below:

12 Dec 1997
22 Jan 1999
27 Jan 2000
31 Dec 2000          1,040
31 Dec 2002 1,167
31 Dec 2004 1,239
31 Dec 2006 1,314

Update Jun 2003 – Even if a significant number of high-flying thinkers were seduced by my theory, as can be seen in the internet extracts, there was however no widespread acceptance, not even a loud debate about my ideas. A breakthrough into mainstream thinking is still waiting to happen.

Update Dec 2006 – as it seems, The Secret of the West is making its way, slowly but surely, in cultivated circles. The book is being recommended, from person to person. From the surprisingly wide array of places on the internet where it gets favorably quoted or used (cf. the extracts), one cannot help thinking that The Secret of the West is discretely getting very well-known... and that it has mostly convinced its readers. The book has simply not yet reached an "official" fame status.

Update Aug 2007 – For its 10th birthday The Secret of the West is going to be republished in pocket book format. The new book is due to reach bookshop shelves in September 2007. The new edition was entirely revised the internet history and several other recent technology stories, in order to demonstrate how much the rich states system theory remains valid today.