In October we lost Robert Miller, historian and editor, founder of the publishing house Enigma Books. He was born in Pisa in October 1945, son of Lawrence Miller and Anna Maria Campedelli –a young Tuscan women with whom Lawrence fell in love while serving in Lucca as an officer in the United States Army during World War II. It was precisely about that tragic conflict, as well as the years of the Cold War, of which his son Robert would become a rigorous scholar and book editor on significant works of contemporary history.
In the Italian American community, Robert Miller was well known and respected also because he had translated from Italian to English and then published classics on Italian history, including the most recent work of Renzo De Felice, The Jews in Fascist Italy. He founded his publishing house, Enigma Books, in New York in 1998. Prior to this, Miller had worked for many years for Berlitz Macmillan. Before that, he had studied in France and returned to the U.S. to complete a Master’s Degree in French language at Middlebury College.
Enigma specializes in books whereby historical revisionism followed its natural course, where authors in their works analyzed still unsolved mysteries of the troubled history of the 20th century. Particular attention in the Enigma publications is paid to essays on the history of the international secret services, studies on military history and also rivisiting circumstances surrounding the death of dictators like Hitler and Mussolini. In 2012, Miller was also appointed Director of the NYMAS (New York Military Affairs Symposium).
This writer found in Miller the ideal editor for his book on Carlos Marcello, the Man Behind the Kennedy Assassination. Miller was not only a precise and prompt editor, but also a scholar capable of encouraging his authors to meet their objectives even when perhaps certain circumstances became complicated. Robert charged you like a fight trainer who refuses to throw in the towel, always persevering when the research track was solid and the supporting documentation confirmed. Additionally, he was a competent and precise translator. His translation of original Italian texts to English was smooth since his knowledge of Italian was perfect: Robert Miller, a native Italian speaker expressed himself with his unmistakable and charming Tuscan accent.
This writer remembers the endless hours of conversation with Robert on so many projects that we would have liked to develop together. His ideal place to deliberate certain topics was at Patsy’s Pizzeria in East Harlem, where for years was the head office of Enigma Books. “You know, it was in this very building that the first mafiosi of New York gathered” he would remind me every time I would go see him…
When my book on Carlos Marcello sent me to New Orleans in search of other testimonies on the mafioso boss suspected to have been involved in the homicide of John Kennedy, we would speak in the evening to update the new material I had gathered and it was by the intensity of his laughter I was able to understand which of the testimonies he considered to be the most important. Robert was that type of scholar that knew how to maintain academic rigor without ever losing his sense of humor, never taking himself too seriously. For the editor of Enigma, historical truth remained pending: certainly books that he published were useful to come close to the truth, but he himself demanded on his authors that the books published by Enigma never gave the impression that they had the final word on the matter, that they solved the mystery. Truth for Robert Miller was similar to what Don Mariano describes in Leonardo Sciascia’s The Day of the Owl: “Truth is at the bottom of a well: look into it and you see the sun or the moon; but if you throw yourself in, there’s no more sun or moon: just truth.”
Robert Miller leaves behind his wife, Catherine Dop-Miller, and their son, Philip, who is presently studying economics in France. Philip Miller told us that Enigma Books will continue, as its founder would have wanted, to promote and publish investigations into the many remaining historical unsolved mysteries from the 20th century.