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Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial (edition 2002)

by Richard J. Evans

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206656,890 (4.14)6
Member:InigoMontoya
Title:Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial
Authors:Richard J. Evans
Info:Basic Books (2002), Paperback, 322 pages
Collections:Your library, To read
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Tags:Study, History

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Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial by Richard J. Evans

  1. 00
    The Irving judgment : David Irving v. Penguin Books and Professor Deborah Lipstadt by Justice Gray (AuntieCatherine)
    AuntieCatherine: This is the devastating judgment in the Irving Trial at which Professor Evans was a witness
  2. 01
    The Borderlands of Science: Where Sense Meets Nonsense by Michael Shermer (ehines)
    ehines: More about people who believe in the face of all contrary evidence.
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"What is historical objectivity? How do we know when a historian is telling the truth? Aren't all historians, in the end, only giving their own opinions about the past? Don't they just select whatever facts they need to support their own interpretations and leave the rest in the archives? Aren't the archives full of preselected materials anyway? Can we really say that anything historians present to us about the past is true? Aren't there, rather, many different truths, according to your political beliefs and personal perspectives?" - Opening of chapter one.

This book is not a full history of the trial of David Irving. Rather, it is the perspective of one of the expert witnesses called to testify about the historical record and the allegation that David Irving, historian, was a holocaust denier, anti-Semite, and liar about the culpability of Hitler in relation to the holocaust. In it, he reviews the basics of what was at state at trial and then reviews some of the claims of Irving thru the years and whether or not he was honest and trustworthy in his writing.

Irving is a multilingual author who spent years of his life in research and writing about WWII history. Some of the acknowledged great historians of the same timeframe, with no hint of Antisemitism, or pro-Nazi feeling, speak well of some of his work and efforts.

The evidence the author presents in this book shows that Irving started out shading the truth to the benefit of the Nazis, and in particular Hitler, in his writings. It appears that Irving did believe in the holocaust early in his career. Though perhaps reluctantly. As we see later in his career as claims from holocaust deniers with the appearance of some scintilla of veracity were eagerly seized on by Irving. And, when proven wrong, very reluctantly, if at all, laid aside. The proof appears to be that Irving purposely misquoted and mischaracterized historical evidence to make Hitler look uninvolved in the Final Solution. He argued that most of the Jews killed bu the Germans were the result of disease in the concentration camps rather than purposeful killing, and that the Jews were using the holocaust claims as a way to get wealthy after the war off of German repayment to Israel and to holocaust survivors. Additionally, he exaggerated evidence of Allied collateral damage (in Dresden in particular with claims of death tolls vastly higher than reasonable evidence suggests) so as to make an argument that the allies were just as bad as the Germans in causing civilian deaths. Irving lost at trial. As he well deserved based on his claims and the evidence presented against him.

I'm not convinced this is the best book about the subject but it's one of the few I have read. The questions at the beginning of the book are well asked. There is such a thing as absolute truth. An honest historian should get as close as possible to that in their writing and where they guess or add opinion, be cautious to be clear what is fact and what is guess. Once cannot let bias or the way we wish the world went change how we record the past.
( )
  Chris_El | Mar 19, 2015 |
Author Richard J. Evans has written a book titled "In defense of history". I haven't read it nor know what it is about, but I always image it as a too academic exercise about historiography. The "Telling Lies About Hitler" details Evans involvement in the libel-case between the controversial David Irving and Deborah Lipstadt and indeed this book could quite worthy get the title "In defense of history", because it justifies why it is important to be able to read and interprete old German Sütterlin documents. ( )
  fnielsen | Aug 4, 2014 |
Deborah Lipstadt wrote a book in 1993 entitled [b:Denying the Holocaust The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory|609316|Denying the Holocaust The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory|Deborah E. Lipstadt|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1347778835s/609316.jpg|381565]. It was an examination of the roots and affiliations of those "scholars" who claimed that the deaths of the Jews in Germany were merely byproducts of a long war and not the deliberate genocide of a people. Her book indicated that many of the deniers were anti-semitic in nature and their work not of a high standard. Many of them attacked her and David Irving, a rather notorious Hitler and Germany scholar, sued her for libel in England, where the libel laws are much more favorable to the plaintiff rather than the defendant. There was no question that Irving was a German expert even though many of his books had been quite controversial in some of their allegations. Lipstadt had never been in the German archives, nor did she claim to be a German history expert. In her book, she had cited numerous secondary sources, and the thrust of her book was an examination of American historians and attitudes. What got things going was Irving's allegation that Hitler had not known of the genocide in the camps. He even offered a financial reward for anyone who could prove him wrong.

Irving was somewhat sensitive to charges that he was not a historian because he had no degree in history, nor any academic affiliation, so when Lipstadt cited him as "discredited" in her book, he was not amused. She had accused him of bending the evidence to suit his personal biases and worse of falsifying data. Irving sued for defamation of character. Irving had been going after several other historians who had also questioned his accuracy and biases. Soon the media had framed the legal contest as one of freedom of speech: Irving's!, even though it was Irving who was trying to prevent Lipstadt and others from saying what they wanted. The media even confused sides on occasion, referring to Irving as the defendant, an egregious error.

A major charge leveled against Irving, and detailed in chapter 2, was that Irving was too sympathetic to Hitler, that he tried to make him seem more human and less of a monster. I have mixed feelings about this, especially after reading Hannah Arendt, for I suspect the enormity of Hitler and his actions rests precisely in his "normalness," something we are loath to admit. It's much easier, I think, to discard him as an aberration if we consider him a monster and an anomaly. That would be a great mistake.

Evans was hired to be an expert witness. Evans was familiar with German documentary evidence and had written [b:In Defense of History|348350|In Defence of History|Richard J. Evans|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1349041908s/348350.jpg|338637]], an examination of what constitutes truth and fiction in the writing of history especially as it pertains to "interpretation.".

Irving decided to represent himself, whether because he didn't have the funds, or because he thought he would be more intimately acquainted with the material. All Irving had to show was that the defendant, Lipstadt, had published statements that where damaging to the reputation of the plaintiff. The defense's tactic was first to show that Irving had specific biases and that he misinterpreted the data and then to hire historians (of which Evans was one) to see whether Lipstadt's charge that Irving had falsified the record was indeed true. This was no easy task for how did one prove that the historical record had been deliberately falsified or was merely a matter of interpretation? "Caricatures have bedeviled the writing of modern history..." Irving portrayed himself as the man who had demolished the caricatures of Hitler and Naziism by digging into the primary sources.

While many thought a trial was hardly the place to examine the historicity of an author and his work, Evans argues that it was the perfect place because unlike newspapers, journals and talk shows, there was virtually unlimited time to present as thorough a case as they might have wished. There was no limit on those submitting reports and Evans' was over seven hundred pages long.

The expectations were high on both sides: Irving's supporters hoped he would drive a nail into the liberal establishment's coffin and Jewish camp survivors hoped Irving would be put in his place and seen as a faker. For the lawyers it was an intricate and enjoyable game, a test of their skill, the fun they were having perhaps a macabre juxtaposition with the horrors of the holocaust detailed in the courtroom.

I hate to say this, but I felt a little sorry for Irving. Regardless of his ultimate motives, he was clearly over-matched and didn't have anywhere near the resources of the defense nor the legal expertise to operate succesfully in a courtroom. That Irving was hoist by his own petard is not in doubt.

corrections 12/3/09 ( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
Not everything it could be. The material in the first half was clearly gathered and written with another purpose in mind (as expert testimony on David Irving for the English courts), and Evans can be a surprisingly ham-fisted writer at times (e.g. whole, memorable descriptive passages reappear verbatim). BUT a very interesting look at how historians parse cryptic archive material, evaluate plausibility and judge motive. And the narrative and writing really pick up once Evans shifts his attention to the trial. In reviewing post-trial evaluations the writing loses direction again, but all in all a good, thought-provoking, and informative book. ( )
  ehines | Dec 23, 2010 |
Evans (a historian witness at the Irving trial) makes clear better than some other books about the case why Irving really was factually wrong on important points, instead of just saying "you can't deny the Holcaust" as too many other writers do. ( )
  antiquary | Sep 10, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0465021530, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:33 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"In April 2000 a High Court judge branded the writer David Irving a racist, an antisemite, a Holocaust denier, and a falsifier of history. Irvings?? attempt to silence his critics by means of a libel suit against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt was decisively rejected in a judgement later confirmed by the Court of Appeal. Faced with mountainous costs to pay, Irving was declared bankrupt on 5 March 2002. None of this has stopped him continuing to try to prevent the publication of books that expose him as a manipulator of historical documents and a Holocaust denier. The key expert witness against Irving was the Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans, a specialist on modern German history and author of In Defence of History. Although Evanss?? report was upheld in all its major points by the High Court, Irvings?? threats of legal action have intimidated a series of publishers. Now Verso brings you the book in full. Evans describes how he came to be involved in the case, and reflects on the interaction of historical and legal rules of evidence. He recounts his discovery of how Irving falsified the documentary evidence on the Second World War, and demonstrates his connections with far-right Holocaust deniers in the United States.Evans argues that the trial does for the twenty-first century what the Eichmann trial did for the second half of the twentieth. It vindicated historys?? ability to come to reasoned conclusions on the basis of a careful examination of the evidence, even when eyewitnesses and survivors are no longer around to tell the tale." -- BOOK JACKET.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

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