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Lying About Hitler de Richard J. Evans
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Lying About Hitler (edició 2002)

de Richard J. Evans (Autor)

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3261065,446 (4.2)6
In ruling against the controversial historian David Irving in his libel suit against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt, last April 2000, the High Court in London labeled him 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 advisor for the defense, uses this pivotal trial as a lens for exploring a range of difficult questions about the nature of the historian’s enterprise. For instance, don’t all historians in the end bring a subjective agenda to bear on their reading of the evidence? Is it possible that Irving lost his case not because of his biased history but because his agenda was unacceptable? The central issue in the trial--as for Evans in this book--was not the past itself, but the way in which historians study the past. In a series of short, sharp chapters, Richard Evans sets David Irving’s methods alongside the historical record in order to illuminate the difference between responsible and irresponsible history. The result is a cogent and deeply informed study in the nature of historical interpretation.… (més)
Membre:gbass6
Títol:Lying About Hitler
Autors:Richard J. Evans (Autor)
Informació:Basic Books (2002), Edition: Reprint, 335 pages
Col·leccions:La teva biblioteca
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Informació de l'obra

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

  1. 00
    The Irving Judgment : David Irving v. Penguin Books and Professor Deborah Lipstadt de Charles Antony St. John 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 de Michael Shermer (ehines)
    ehines: More about people who believe in the face of all contrary evidence.
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It tells about Evans’ experience as an expert witness defending Deborah Lipstadt’s book "Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory" against a libel charge by self-described historian David Irving.

The meat of the book is four chapters in which Evans reviews Irving’s writings, speeches, and interviews, primarily to analyze his claims that he has documents supporting several controversial (to put it as neutrally as possible) conclusions:

• Hitler never ordered the destruction of the Jews and in fact intervened to stop mass executions of Jews when he was made aware of them.

• The numbers of Jews that died during the war was far lower than widely believed, possibly in the hundreds of thousands and not in multiple millions, and that most of those died from disease and not deliberate executions.

• The Nazis had no systematic program of Jewish extermination, though some army units and occupying governments did carry out limited extermination on a local scale.

In painstaking detail Evans unpacks Irving’s supposed documentation of these conclusions to find it based on deliberate mis-readings, faulty translations (made by Irving himself, a fluent German speaker), and unjustified rejection of evidence, sometimes on a sentence-by-sentence level from a single source. No doubt it is important to show the breadth and depth of Irving’s dishonesty, but I found the reading of these chapters sometimes exhausting, with detailed examinations the characteristics of various documents, handwriting, and phrasing. I imagine the historian himself would agree that undertaking the work itself is more interesting than watching over his shoulder as he goes about it, which is the position I often felt myself in as a reader.

Further research is described in supporting Lipstadt’s description of Irving as a “holocaust denier”. Here, through tapes made available to Evans in the trial’s discovery phase, we get a taste of venues and groups where Irving has given speeches – these are audiences who burst into laughter when Irving uses an obscenity to refer to Holocaust survivors.

In a final bit of endnote-unpacking, Evans uses what he’s learned about Irving’s methods to look back at his early, more highly regarded book, The Destruction of Dresden. He finds that Irving accepted questionable testimony and evidence, including a document he knew to be a forgery, to maximize the number of deaths that resulted from the fire-bombings. In some cases Irving employed exactly the opposite tactics and logic he was to use later in minimizing Holocaust deaths.

Well, that was a long summary, and for me the best part of the book was actually the chapters surrounding that core, where Evans describes his being asked to provide expert testimony, the lead up to the trial, both in chambers and in the media, the trial itself - told mainly from Evans’ viewpoint, and press coverage of the trial and verdict. This provides something of a “fish out of water” subtext to the book as historian Evans enters the world of litigation with its different ideas of evidence, proof, and dealing with disagreements.

I don’t know how much it reflects subsequent events, but much of the coverage of and reaction to the trial as recounted by Evans reminded me of free-speech controversies in the US. Many who wrote about it seemed to think that it was Irving who was on trial and that his freedom to publish his interpretation of history was threatened. Of course it was actually he who instituted the suit and a judgment in his favor would have resulted in Lipstadt’s book being withdrawn and pulped. In similar controversies in the US I too often see the right wing and totalitarian side represented as being denied a hearing of their views when in fact they are merely acting as provocateurs creating controversy to air their lies beyond what would otherwise remain a very limited audience of fringe believers.

After the trial verdict went against him, Irving was again portrayed as the victim, this time of “political correctness” in a phrase used by John Keegan after the trial to describe Lipstadt’s book. As is usually the case with those who use this term, it can be seen as a code phrase for “not one of us”. Despite the full vindication of her claims in court and the self-inflicted shredding of Irving’s credibility (Evans concludes that he has no right to have ever been described as a “historian”) it is Lipstadt – a woman, Jew, and American – whose views don’t sit well with Keegan and the male, Gentile, British Irving who has “many of the qualities of the most creative historians”.

Irving was always interesting (not for his Moon Landings, Lizard people history, naturally) but for his sense of timing. When he popped his greasy little head up, you could always tell that something was minging in the state of Denmark. ( )
  antao | Sep 18, 2020 |
Lying About Hitler was written following the famous (in history circles anyway) libel trial involving David Irving in 2000. Even typing that sentence I'm tempted to describe the trial as 'of David Irving', and it is important to remember that although in practice the defence exposed Irving's flaws as an historian, in fact the case was brought to court by David Irving himself. The case is fascinating on a number of levels. It displays Irving's hubris - his apparently insatiable desire for self publicity, controversy and seemingly sincere belief in himself as a serious historian. More long lasting are the trial's unusual status as an opportunity to expose publicly a racist author who distorts the truth, as well as an airing of arguments attempting to undermine important facts about the extermination policies of Nazi Germany.
Richard Evan's book takes as its basis his expert report produced for the defence in the trial, with some background, narrative of the trial itself and reflections on its conclusions. It is well written, and fascinating as it reviews contentious topics and pretty dispassionately deconstructs some of the falsities of Irving's work. It particularly focusses on Irving's work on the Dresden bombings, his broad status as a holocaust denier and various ways he diminishes the responsibility of Hitler for some of the brutalities of the Nazi regime such as Kristallnacht. Other books by trial experts look at other areas, such as The Case for Auschwitz: Evidence from the Irving Trial by Robert Jan Van Pelt which looks at the evidence for systematic gassing at Auschwitz, denied by Irving.
An interesting and recommended read which provides a useful reminder and warning that well footnoted history books do not always tell the whole truth. ( )
  bevok | Jul 31, 2017 |
If you have read The Holocaust on Trial or History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier, you should read this. It is Evans' take down of Irving, and a good look at what makes scholarship. ( )
  Chrisethier | Jan 10, 2017 |
This is a very useful book about the action for libel that David Irving brought against Deborah Lipstadt, and its outcome, and the importance of this action for all historians. Mr. Irving had published over ten books relating to the Third Reich, and brought the action against Lipstadt for a book she had published that had called him an anti-Semite, a holocaust denier, and a manipulator of historical documents. Deborah Lipstadt's defence was found by the courts in England to have proven all of those charges.
Richard Evans was called as an expert witness for the defence, and this book was written to inform the historical community of the ways in which Irving manipulated historical documents to further his own narrow interests, and of the possible harm to the pursuit of history if he and others continue to use these methods.
The last chapter, in particular deals with the differences between legal proof and historical proofs, and with the damage done to the pursuit of History and to the future of historical inquiry unless an ethical code is adhered to by those purporting to write history. The prose is deliberately clear and lacks rhetorical flourishes because the issues raised by the Irving affair have such importance for the philosophical foundations for the pursuit of history. Well done, Deborah Lipstadt and Richard Evans for their defence of us all! ( )
1 vota DinadansFriend | Apr 28, 2016 |
"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 |
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In ruling against the controversial historian David Irving in his libel suit against the American historian Deborah Lipstadt, last April 2000, the High Court in London labeled him 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 advisor for the defense, uses this pivotal trial as a lens for exploring a range of difficult questions about the nature of the historian’s enterprise. For instance, don’t all historians in the end bring a subjective agenda to bear on their reading of the evidence? Is it possible that Irving lost his case not because of his biased history but because his agenda was unacceptable? The central issue in the trial--as for Evans in this book--was not the past itself, but the way in which historians study the past. In a series of short, sharp chapters, Richard Evans sets David Irving’s methods alongside the historical record in order to illuminate the difference between responsible and irresponsible history. The result is a cogent and deeply informed study in the nature of historical interpretation.

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