A writer who steals the work of another is called a plagiarist. One who takes from the works of many is called a researcher. That is a roundabout way of saying I am deeply indebted to the efforts of so many who have previously grappled this topic. It is impossible to acknowledge them except in footnote and bibliography. Without the cumulative product of their efforts, it would have taken a lifetime to pull together the material you are about to read.

In addition to the historical facts, however, there are numerous concepts which, to the best of my knowledge, are not to be found in prior literature. Primary among these are the formulation of certain natural laws which, it seemed to me, were too important to leave buried beneath the factual data. You will easily recognize these and other editorial expressions as the singular product of my own perceptions for which no one else can be held responsible.

I would like to give special thanks to Myril Creer and Jim Toft for having first invited me to give a lecture on this subject and, thus, forcing me to delve into it at some depth; and to Herb Joiner for encouraging me, after the speech, to take it on the road. This book is the end result of a seven-year journey that began with those first steps. Wayne C. Rickert deserves a special medal for his financial support to get the project started and for his incredible patience while it crawled toward completion. Thanks to Bill Jasper for providing copies of numerous hard-to-locate documents. Thanks, also, to Linda Perlstein and Melinda Wiman for keeping my business enterprises functioning during my preoccupation with this project And a very personal thanks to my wife, Patricia, for putting up with my periods of long absence while completing the manuscript, for meticulous proofreading, and for a most perceptive critique of its development along the way.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge those readers of the first three printings who have assisted in the refinement of this work Because of their efforts most of the inevitable errata have been corrected for the second edition. Even so, it would be foolhardy to think that there are no more errors within the following pages. I have tried to be meticulous with even the smallest detail, but one cannot harvest such a huge crop without dropping a few seeds. Therefore, corrections and suggestions from new readers are sincerely invited. In my supreme optimism, I would like to think that they will be incorporated into future editions of this book.