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Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? First Edition Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0520216129
ISBN-10: 0520216121
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Denying History is a courageous and accessible study of "a looking-glass world where black is white, up is down, and the normal rules of reason no longer apply." Authors Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman have immersed themselves in the conferences, literature, and Web culture of Holocaust deniers; they have engaged the pseudo-historians in debate; and they have visited the concentration camps in Europe to investigate the truth of what happened there. Denying History presents Shermer and Grobman's findings. The book refutes, in detail, the Holocaust deniers' claims, and it demonstrates conclusively that the Holocaust did happen.It also explores the fundamental historical issue in all debates over the truth of the Holocaust: the question of "how we know that any past event happened." Thus, Denying History is a doubly useful book; it sets the record straight on one of history's most terrible events, and it instructs readers in the scientific, logical, and historiographical principles that can help us make wise judgments about history on our own. --Michael Joseph Gross

From Publishers Weekly

Holocaust denialAback in the news since the British courts shot down David Irving's libel suit against Deborah Lipstadt (for her groundbreaking book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory) in AprilAgets an inventively thorough treatment in this important book. Keeping their focus on larger questions about historical rigor and public memory, Shermer (a professor of the history of science at Occidental College and publisher of Skeptic magazine) and Grobman (Rekindling the Flame) look closely at the methods employed by deniers and those used by legitimate historians. "Holocaust denial," they argue, "is not just a Jewish issue. It is an attack on all history and the way we transmit the past to the future." Drawing on a wide array of evidenceAinterviews they conducted with famous deniers (including Irving himself) and text from their Web sites and literatureAthe authors explore the difference between legitimate historical revisionism and pseudohistorical denial. They note that historians interested in revising accepted knowledge depend on a wide variety of sources to draw a picture of an event or periodAif some of that evidence is contradictory, then respectful scholarly debate ensues; if new evidence surfaces, then the historical record gets revised. Deniers, on the contrary, use the barest of evidenceAone contradiction, for exampleAto discount entire arguments; meanwhile, they bolster their own arguments with out-of-context phrases and mistranslations. Using the deniers' own words to tear down their arguments, Shermer and Grobman provide a clear method for determining the reality of past events and supply a powerful weapon for anyone who cares about learning from the credible historical record. 42 b&w photos. (June)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 330 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; First Edition edition (June 29, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520216121
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520216129
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,874 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine (www.skeptic.com) and the Director of The Skeptics Society. He is a Visiting Associate at the California Institute of Technology, and hosts the Skeptics Lecture Series at Cal Tech. He has authored several popular books on science, scientific history, and the philosophy and history of science, including Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time, How We Believe: The Search for God in an Age of Science, and Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? (with Alex Grobman). Shermer is also a radio personality and the host of the Fox Family Channel's Exploring the Unknown. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Denying History succeeds on two levels. First, it is a thorough demolition of the arguments of Holocaust deniers, presenting the overwhelming evidence for the systematic and deliberate murder of about 6,000,000 Jews by the Nazis during World War II. On this level, it is a very painful book at times, but clear and utterly convincing.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, it is an exploration of historical method intended to show how not only Holocaust deniers, but fringe groups of all kinds, distort and pervert history to make their points. The book is a virtual guide to BS detection, displaying the techniques used by pseudo-historians and how the conclusions drawn by these techniques evaporate in the light of a careful, objective evaluation of the evidence.
In a sense, it is too bad that the Holocaust, a very emotional topic (and this book can be quite angry at times), is the test case; less of a hot-button issue might have made for a calmer (and at times less disturbing) book. But the Holocaust deniers need to be denied, and Shermer and Grobman do a masterful job of it, without losing sight of the larger historiographical issues involved. Denying History is intense, readable, valuable, and for anybody who has ever been upset by bizarre historical claims, essential.
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Format: Hardcover
You will not find a more straightforward Holocaust book than Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It. The authors' basic argument is this: The extermination of six million Jews during the Second World War is a historical fact. Those who deny it are wrong.
It's hardly a provocative thesis. But ask yourself this: Would you be able to refute a Holocaust denier? The fact of the Holocaust is like the spherical Earth: Every reasonable person accepts it, but few can prove it. That is why Skeptic magazine publisher Michael Shermer teamed up with historian Alex Grobman to write Denying History. They believe thinking people have a duty to fight Holocaust denial head on; and they want them to come to the battle armed with historical facts.
When the eyes of the public are upon them -- such as during the 1985 trial of Canadian Holocaust denier Ernst Zündel, or the famous 1994 Donahue episode that pitted two Holocaust deniers against Shermer and an Auschwitz survivor -- deniers often get the best of staged confrontations. The most prominent deniers know a lot about the Holocaust, especially arcane subjects like the chemistry of Zyklon-B gas and the architecture of gas chambers. Many of the sound bites they spit out are quite true. It is a fact, for instance, that the Nazis never manufactured soap from Jewish bodies on a mass scale -- contrary to urban legend. Deniers are also correct when they claim that there is no known Holocaust order bearing Hitler's signature. David Irving, the on-again off-again denier who recently lost a defamation suit in Britain, has never had to make good on his $1,000 challenge to any historian who could produce such a document.
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Format: Hardcover
It is both puzzling and painful to recognize that there are still serious(?) people abroad in the world who loudly deny the veracity of the historical record concerning the Holocaust. As if to extend the unconscionable cruelty of the world yet longer for the millions of victims of this century's most heinous and tragic phenomenon, some actually continue to claim that either the Holocaust never happened, or that its dimensions and scope were much more limited and constrained that so-called Jewish revisionist historians would like the public to believe. This book puts the lie to all this nonsense, giving those who would deny the truth and accuracy of the history of the Holocaust an exceptionally thorough trip to the intellectual back shed to give them the whipping of their cranial careers.
With this volume, historians Michael Shermier and Alex Grobman have presented a virtual tidal wave of substantiating evidence of the nature of the complex social movement that the Holocaust deniers comprise. The authors trudge through a depressing tour of every aspect of this social movement, and go deeper into every aspect of the deniers and their social network in an effort to both better understand what motivates them as well as how to finally and authoritatively refute their claims. In so doing, they not only illustrate how shallow, self-serving, disingenuous, and disreputable these claims and positions are, but also provide much more substantial proof of the existence of the Holocaust.
In some ways this tour into the deep underbelly of continuing hate, bigotry, and ignorance is a descent into a Dante-like inferno, one the reader tends to recoil from because of its `in-your-face' portrayal of such rampant and continuing racial hate and conflict.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is the most comprehensive book yet to appear which seeks to refute the claims of Holocaust deniers and revisionists. It seeks to put the nature of historical "truth" in a semi-philosophical framework as well as tackling the empirical claims of deniers head on. There is a strong section attacking Fred Leuchter's so-called research on the bricks at the Auschwitz crematoria (no wonder no traces of cyanide remain after 50 years in the open air) and a thorough account of the nazis' own incriminating records and confessions. Will the book actually convince any Holocaust deniers themselves? Probably not. They will doubtless pin-prick the book, for example Heydrich's death at one point is wrongly given as 1943. And they will continue to maintain that Eichmann's confessions in custody were his last ditch effort to cooperate and thus save his life. As Sherman and Grobman make very clear, Holocaust deniers are ideologically motivated and devoted to rehabilitation of nazism. A final thought: the main media organ of deniers these days is the Internet. There is still scope for a detailed analysis of the content and impact of these hate pages. The authors have written a valuable book, but the debate (like it or not) will go on.
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