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Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Paperback – May 3, 2002

60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 330 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press; New edition edition (May 3, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520234693
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520234697
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,207,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Shermer is the Founding Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Skeptic magazine ( 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

88 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Helmerichs on June 24, 2000
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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58 of 71 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Kay on August 21, 2000
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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63 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on July 9, 2000
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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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on January 16, 2013
Format: Paperback
In the wake of World War II, a series of prosecutions were leveled against the then living administrators of Germany's "final solution" or Holocaust against Europe's Jews.

Significantly, no Nuremburg defendants attempted to claim that the Holocaust, a specific government sponsored program to kill Jews that actually resulted in some six million Jewish deaths, actually occured. This remained the state of affairs even fifteen years later when Adolf Eichmann, was captured and put on trial in connection with his role in the final solution. It was even the state of affairs some thirty years after that when John Damjanjuk was extradicted to Israel to face trial on allegations that he was one in same with concentration camp guard Ivan the Terrible.

However, as is made clear in this book, there are those who deny that the Holocaust occured. As might be expected those denying the Holocaust almost always hail from anti semitic circles from which they are funded and supported.

Not surprisingly the methods employed by these Holocaust deniers involve slip shod resesarch and reasoning. One example of this type of slip shod research and reasoning, as explained in this book, can be found in the Leuchter report, a report done by Fred Leuchter (a self described engineer) who went to Auschwitz where he illegally took wall samples from the area where inmates had been gassed to see if they contained traces of Zyclon B, the gas used to kill them. According to Leuchter his samples did not contain evidence of the lethal substance. However, the samples Leuchter took were from areas that had been subject to exposure to the elements for some fifty years.
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