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The Holocaust on Trial: History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case
     

The Holocaust on Trial: History, Justice and the David Irving Libel Case

by D. D. Guttenplan
 
To his admirers, British author David Irving is one of the world's preeminent military historians. Scholars of World War II have described his biographies of Hitler, Rommel, Goering, and Goebbels as essential reading. But there is a dark side to these best-selling books as well, starting with the author's denial of Hitler's responsibility for the extermination of

Overview

To his admirers, British author David Irving is one of the world's preeminent military historians. Scholars of World War II have described his biographies of Hitler, Rommel, Goering, and Goebbels as essential reading. But there is a dark side to these best-selling books as well, starting with the author's denial of Hitler's responsibility for the extermination of European Jewry and ending with his claim that the Holocaust never happened. Deborah Lipstadt, an American academic, blew the whistle on Irving. Her book, Denying the Holocaust, describes him as a right-wing extremist who denigrated the memory of Hitler's victims. Irving sued for libel in England, where libel laws are famously biased in favor of the plaintiff. It was up to Lipstadt to prove the truth of what she wrote, and to prove, along the way, that hundreds of thousands of Jews were indeed gassed to death at Auschwitz. D. D. Guttenplan's brilliant coverage of this high-stakes duel, based on exclusive access to many of the participants, makes compelling reading and raises surprising questions about what we know, or can know, about history.

Author Biography: D. D. Guttenplan is a contributing editor of The Nation. His work has been published in Granta, Vanity Fair, the New York Times, Harper's, and Atlantic Monthly. He lives in London and Guilford, Vermont.

Editorial Reviews

When American scholar Deborah Lipstadt denounced British historian David Irving as a right-wing extremist who denigrated the memory of Hitler's Holocaust victims, Irving sued her for libel. Although the suit was pursued in England, where libel laws are weighted heavily toward the plaintiff, Lipstadt welcomed the public airing, and fellow academics, angered by years of Irving's pronouncements, rushed to her support. The trial that followed was, by any standard, a landmark. Lipstadt was required to do nothing less than to prove that hundreds of thousands of Jews had indeed been gassed at Auschwitz. This inside account of the proceedings shows that, however tragic history may be, it must not be buried.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Like Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, born of her New Yorker essays, Guttenplan's book springs from his Atlantic Monthly articles. In 1996, British military historian David Irvingauthor of WWII studies, biographer of Hitler, Himmler and Goebbelssued American scholar Deborah Lipstadt for her book Denying the Holocaust, which labeled Irving an extremist liar and "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial." Guttenplan, contributing editor at the Nation, makes the complex case navigable, from issues of the historian's craft to British libel law (which, unlike American libel law, favors plaintiffs). Although Irving, Lipstadt and Judge Charles Gray unambiguously stated that history was not on trial, everyone else saw otherwise. Lipstadt's British publisher Penguin incurred considerable expense for the legal defense for its author, who also had problematic Anti-Defamation League supporters; Irving received assistance from neo-Nazi acquaintances and from reputable historians (John Keegan) and iconoclastic journalists (Christopher Hitchens). Guttenplan's fine journalistic style proves equal to the subject's gravity. Readers not familiar with the intricacies of Holocaust historiography or British libel laws may flounder at times, but Guttenplan fluidly guides readers through most of the rough spots. In his hands, Irving is infinitely more interesting than the sympathetic Lipstadt, perhaps for the same reason that Dante's Inferno engrosses more than his Paradise. Guttenplan only touches on deeper epistemological, historiographical and philosophical issues, but maybe these are for historians and philosophers. Although we know the trial's outcome, the book creates delicious courtroom-thriller tension. Most important, it expertly introduces a crucial trial of our time. Four b&w photos. Agent, Andrew Wylie. (May 21) Forecast: Norton has planned an author tour to New York and Washington, D.C., where the combination of Irving's notoriety and Guttenplan's readable treatment will stir up a great deal of interest and debate. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
London-based journalist and essayist Guttenplan describes British military historian David Irving's libel suit against American academic Deborah Lipstadt. In her , she accused him of perverting historical evidence to suit his ideological ends of defending Nazi Germany. She also showed that his conclusions were wrong, and that in fact hundreds of thousands of Jews were gassed at Auschwitz. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781862074866
Publisher:
Granta Books
Publication date:
01/01/2002
Pages:
334
Product dimensions:
5.12(w) x 7.87(h) x (d)

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