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Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and…

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

by Richard J. Evans

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199559,063 (4.18)6
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
Tags:Study, History

Work details

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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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:10 -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)

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