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Lying about Hilter: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trialby Richard J. Evans
Synopses & Reviews
An illumination of one of the most explosive and publicized "holocaust trials" since that of Adolf Eichmann, by a leading historian who acted as chief adviser to the defense.
In ruling against the controversial historian David Irving, whose libel suit against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt was tried in April 2000, the High Court in London labeled Irving a falsifier of history. No objective historian, declared the judge, would manipulate the documentary record in the way that Irving did. Richard J. Evans, a Cambridge historian and the chief adviser for the defense, uses this famous trial as a lens for exploring a range of difficult questions about the nature of the historian's enterprise.
"[R]iveting....A classic example of historical research as detective story, Evans' book must be one of the most thorough and devastating exposés ever written about any writer. The tingle of intellectual discovery runs through Evans' methodical demolition of Irving's work. He writes as if he were suspended between his excitement at catching Irving in each lie and his astonishment that the lies are so pervasive, unrelenting and bald....Evans did what almost no other reviewers or historians had done...tracing the information footnoted in Irving's books back to its sources. He found a consistent pattern of misquotation, selective editing, reliance on documents later found to be forged (and in one case known by Irving to be forged), suppressed information that ran counter to his case and fiddled figures — all of it minimizing not just Nazi complicity in the terrorizing and killing of Jews but the killing itself....Evans is at his best providing the answers to [questions of historical fact versus perception]. His analysis of the press coverage both during and after the trial cuts through the farrago of misconceptions that surrounded the case. Evans writes as a historian for whom scholarly rigor is sacrosanct, and in his assessments of [historians and prosecution witnesses] John Keegan and Donald Cameron Watt there is a thinly disguised wonder at how foolish smart men can be." Charles Taylor, Salon.com
"[Evans] chronicles his arduous research effort with impressive lucidity....Evans enables readers to fully appreciate the significance of both Lipstadt's victory and Irving's exposure as exactly what he claimed not to be." Donna Seaman, Booklist
"Evans eloquently argues that what was really on trial was history itself. Fortunately, history won....Highly recommended." Library Journal (starred review)
"Superb....Evans's book, based on a 700-page report for the defense, is never less than absorbing." The National Review
"A clear and companionable narrator and a sharp and restrained reporter." Newsday
"Simple, elegant, and unemotional in style, it is devastating, a task of demolition so complete that it is hard to think of anything comparable." The New Criterion
"A unique work. It's a must for academics and non-academics alike. It will be of exceptional interest to students of the Holocaust and history." Martyrdom and Resistance
"[P]erforms a historian's autopsy on Irving's body of work." Times Literary Supplement (U.K.)
In 2000, Historian David Irving's libel suit against Penguin Books and author Deborah Lipstadt was heard in an English court. Irving claimed that he had been libelled in the 1994 book Denying the Holocaust. Richard J. Evans was called to testify for the defense. This is Evans's chronicle of his role in the proceedings and his views on the larger issues raised by the lawsuit, which Lipstadt won.
An illumination of one of the most explosive and publicized "holocaust trials" since that of Adolf Eichmann, by a leading historian who acted as chief adviser to the defense
About the Author
Richard J. Evans is Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and a noted specialist on modern German history. He is the author of In Defense of History and Death in Hamburg.
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