From Library Journal
As an expert witness for the defense in last year's Irving-Lipstadt trial, Evans (history, Cambridge Univ.) was charged with determining whether David Irving was, as Deborah Lipstadt asserted, a Holocaust denier. Evans spent two years researching Irving's work, tracing his sources, and then evaluating his publications and public speeches. Moving easily from analysis of Irving's abuse of primary documents to a discussion of what constitutes legitimate historical methodology, Evans presents compelling proof that Irving is a Holocaust denier and why he should not be considered a legitimate member of the historical profession. Evans's depiction of the trial and of Irving's behavior in court is followed by an assessment of the implications of the judgment in Lipstadt's favor. Evans's point that some commentators seemed to forget that it was Irving who was attempting to silence Lipstadt, rather than academic historians and "Jewish interest groups" attempting to stifle free speech, is well worth remembering. Evans eloquently argues that what was really on trial was history itself. Fortunately, history won. Ironically, Evans's carefully documented book has not yet been published in the U.K., as Irving's threats to bring a libel suit have already caused one company to drop publication. Highly recommended. Frederic Krome, Jacob Rader Marcus Ctr. of the American Jewish Archives, Cincinnati
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
When Deborah Lipstadt's Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory
(1993), a groundbreaking book about the disturbing movement to refute the reality of the Holocaust, was published, one of the writers identified as a Holocaust denier, the Englishman David Irving, sued Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin, for libel. Although Irving never earned a degree, he has written nearly 30 books about Hitler and other related subjects. His contention, therefore, was that Lipstadt had denigrated his work as a historian by accusing him of distorting the historical record to support his extreme anti-Semitic politics. The defense had to prove that Irving, in fact, had deliberately misrepresented the contents of relevant documents to conform to his sympathetic view of Hitler and his belief that nothing on the order of genocide occurred under Nazi rule. Evans, a Cambridge-based historian who specializes in modern German history, was retained by the defense as an expert witness, and he chronicles his arduous research effort with impressive lucidity. At question was the very bedrock of history: Is there such a thing as historical objectivity? Or, as Evans writes, "How do we know when a historian is telling the truth? . . . Wasn't it all a matter of interpretation?" Sensitive to these conundrums and the high emotional valence attached to the Holocaust, Evans was scrupulous in his examination of thousands of pages of documents, assiduously evaluating Irving's interpretation of such primary sources as Goebbels' diaries, always on the lookout for evidence of inaccuracies and bias. He found plenty, and he describes his discoveries with quiet and contagious excitement. By sharing his vast insider's knowledge and recounting his surreal experiences on the stand as Irving, who represented himself, conducted his chaotic cross-examinations, Evans enables readers to fully appreciate the significance of both Lipstadt's victory and Irving's exposure as exactly what he claimed not to be. There is such a thing as truth, and history, responsibly practiced, will reveal it. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved