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History on Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier Paperback – April 4, 2006


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060593776
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060593773
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,584 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a much-publicized case, David Irving, the author of numerous books about WWII, sued Emory University historian Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin, for libel. Lipstadt had called Irving a Holocaust denier in a book about the Holocaust denial movement, and Britain's libel laws put the burden of proof on her to show that the charge was true. Did that mean proving the Holocaust had happened? Was Lipstadt, as Irving claimed, trying to restrict his freedom of speech, or was he restraining hers? Was the courtroom the proper place to examine historical truth? The press hotly debated these issues, but as Lipstadt relates in this powerful account, she and her adept lawyers felt they simply had to discredit a man who had said that "no documents whatsoever show that a Holocaust had ever happened." In 2000, Judge Charles Gray decided in Lipstadt's favor, finding it "incontrovertible" that Irving was a Holocaust denier. The drama of the book lies in the courtroom confrontations between an evasive and self-contradictory Irving (serving as his own lawyer) and Lipstadt's strategically brilliant barrister, Richard Rampton, and the scholars who testified in her defense. Lipstadt herself is a reluctant heroine, a feisty, outspoken woman forced to remain silent (she did not testify in court) and let her lawyers speak for her. No one who cares about historical truth, freedom of speech or the Holocaust will avoid a sense of triumph from Gray's decision—or a sense of dismay that British libel laws allowed such intimidation by Irving of a historian and a publisher in the first place.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School–In Denying the Holocaust (Penguin, 1994), Lipstadt called Irving, an English author of books on World War II and the Third Reich, the most dangerous Holocaust denier because his works were reviewed in mainstream journals and he commanded a certain level of respect and influence in the field. Irving later sued her and her publisher, Penguin UK, for libel. Under English law, the burden of proof in a libel case rests with the defendant. The core of the book is the trial itself, combining a page-turning eyewitness account and a close look at the mind-set and dubious research methods of a neo-Nazi. Irving served as his own lawyer and constantly courted press coverage. Among his assertions: Hitler did not order the Kristallnacht violence but attempted to stop it; the Allies were responsible for typhus epidemics in the concentration camps; Anne Frank's diary is a romantic novel; more people died in Ted Kennedy's car at Chappaquidick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz. Ultimately, Irving's case collapsed under the weight of evidence and expert testimony provided by the defense. In addition to possible use with the curriculum, this book will appeal to teens interested in modern history, historiography, and law.–Sandy Freund, Richard Byrd Library, Fairfax County, VA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I have read this book every last page.
Larry Reynolds
It is a good reminder that decent people can not standby when others do harm.
Daniel Carroll
Deborah Lipstadt mentioned David Irving in the her book on holocaust denial.
James Comfort

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Book Freak on May 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Professor Lipstadt's account of her trial for libel brought by disgraced writer David Irving manages to be full of suspense even though I knew what the judgement was. She describes the origins of the lawsuit, the months of build-up to the trial, the trial itself, and the judgement, which vindicated her of libel, and showed David Irving to be more than a Holocaust denier, but a liar and anti-semite amongst other things. The fear that although they might win, she and Penguin books would not win absolutely, is well described. I did not find Lipstadt to be humorless, just serious about what were a harrowing few years of her life. The pace of the book is excellent, it is well written and clear, and the insights into the difference between English and American law are thought-provoking. The book also shows that the British "old-boy" system is still alive and well for some people, notably Keegan with his odious writing in the Daily Telegraph, but refreshingly not so in the defence's team nor in the judge. The reactions from survivors and plain Brits - taxi drivers, restaurant patrons, hotel employees, are a heart-warming counter to this. Professor Lipstadt is remarkably restrained in her descriptions of Irving, merely letting his words and actions, as well as the judgement, get across what he is like, which is quite sufficient.

There is a lot to learn from this book, not least importantly that one must be very careful about believing what one reads in newspapers and books. Many of the journalists writing about the trial made basic mistakes and put them in print, and the C-Span debacle has made it clear that even when money is not a motive, a tv channel purporting to be independent of ratings may want to entertain rather than inform.
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30 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on March 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
definitely a quick and entertaining read. I started reading when I got on a bus at 1 PM, and finished the book at about 6 or 7 (despite napping for an hour or so in the middle of a journey).

Other reviewers have adequately discussed this book's coverage of the Irving/Lipstadt trial: but I was also interested in learning about the toll litigation can take on the time and energy of even a victorious party.

After reading this book, I am definitely more supportive than before of American libel law (which typically places the burden of proof on the plaintiff to show falsity, and provides that public figures can only recover if they show that their opponent was truly reckless): Britian's pro-plaintiff libel law, by encouraging libel suits, caused both Mr. Irving and Ms. Lipstadt to subject themselves to levels of scrutiny that I suspect few scholarly reputations could survive.

One minor point: I wish Lipstadt had included some of the relevant documents (in particular, Irving's initial complaint) in the appendix so readers could follow exactly what the parties needed to prove.
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25 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 14, 2006
Format: Paperback
Want a true life legal thriller that reads like fiction? Want a plot so outlandish that it is hard to remember that it is real? Something that will make you think, laugh, get angry, and make you proud, all in the same story?

Well, here it is. This is an acocunt of the case whereby Deborah Lipstadt was asked to prove in a British court of law that the Holocaust happened!

The plaintiff: David Irving - a British historian who makes claims such as that no gassings took place in Auschwitz and that Hitler was unaware of the "final solution." The defendant: Deborah Lipstadt - an American historian sued by Irving for writing a book that, in its pages, takes Irving to task for practicing bad history. Irving sued for libel and, per the backwards legal system of Britian, put the burden of proof on Lipstadt to prove that libel DID NOT occur. The only way to do this? Prove that the things Irving has said about the Holocaust are not only untrue, but that Irving willfully distorted the facts. She must, in other words, prove the Holocaust.

This book is Lipstadt's first-hand account of the trial. In so reading, we gradually witness Irving's "history" being held under a microscope by various witnesses who meticulously demonstrate Irving's less-than-honest methods of "history." We watch how Irving quotes only very select passages from documents (and not others), mistranslates words, phrases, and dates, discredits disfavorable evidence as bogus (while being all too ready to accept more 'favorable' evidence without question), etc.

What this all leads to is one doozy of a circumstantial case that Irving's "mistakes and errors" were deliberate misrepresentations.
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Bucherwurm on January 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
After the trial was over an editorial cartoon appeared in the Daily Telegraph that showed a man holding up a book entitled "That Libel Trial Never Happened", by David Irving. After reading about the trial you can easily picture Mr. Irving making such a denial. Deborah Lipstadt was involved in a libel suit brought against her by David Irving who claimed his character was defamed by her calling him, in essence, a Holocaust denier.

The book gives us a courtroom seat for the entire trial in which Irving represented himself. While Ms. Lipstadt exhibited anxiety about the outcome, the reader of the book will probably be shaking his/her head at what seemed to be a total farce. Mr. Irving was constantly confronted with inaccuracies, incorrect data, and suppression of important facts in the books that he wrote. His response most frequently was that he had made innocent mistakes, that he was up late working and in his tired state he made trivial mistakes. He made many speeches to ultra right wing groups, and denied that he knew anything about the organizations. He denied that he was racist, and stated that he had hired "colored" people, and then talked in a belittling way about them.

The judge decides in favor of Ms. Lipstadt, and soundly criticizes Mr. Irving, although he does make a few favorable remarks about him at the very beginning of his long decision. Mr. Irving made three appeals of the decision, all of which were denied.

The book is well written and quite suspenseful even though you know how it will end. It is also interesting to read some of the other reviews of this book which are obviously written by other holocaust deniers. One reviewer presents only the initial positive remarks of the judge, and seems to be a denier of the bulk of the very long decision.
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