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Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It? Paperback – April 1, 2009
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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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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 the Audible Audio Edition edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Shermer offers a very fair and accurate assesment of the claims of the so-called Revisionists, then proceeds to refute them. He references many documents, went to the camps, and conducted many interviews: he got to know the leading revisionists in person. Thus, he gets into primary sources, which earns my respect. He offers a very strong if not water tight argument that the Holocaust has not been exaggerated. He explains his theory of a "convergence of evidence", which explains that, just as there's no smoking gun to prove evolution, many different facts, from many different sources, lead to conclusions such as evolution and the Holocaust both happened.
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.
The book starts by exploring the methodology of Holocaust Denial, and gives a thorough explanation on the distinction between legitimate historical revisionism and Denial. Simply put, Deniers are shown not to play by the accepted rules of historical inquiry. The authors move on to explore why some people distort these basic principles when approaching the Holocaust, and present a brief history of the movement, giving short but detailed biographies of the leading proponents of Holocaust Denial. As one would expect, Shermer and Grobman present a group of loosely-connected individuals who often appear likeable and intellectually capable, but who are evidently united by a shared philosophy of paranoia, far-Right politics and conspiratorial anti-Semitism. A cursory glance through the Journal for Historical Review—the leading Denial journal—makes this so apparent that one wonders why Deniers so often, ahem, deny it.
The second half of the book focuses on the claims made by Deniers, particularly the three ‘fundamentals’ which define the movement: Denial of the Nazi intention to commit genocide against the Jewish people; denial of an industrial-scale process to commit genocide, specifically the use of gas chambers; and denial of the death of six million Jew. As the authors are clear to emphasise, no single historical document ‘proves’ any of the above, but all are known to be true based on the convergence of an overwhelming amount of independent evidence. While this available evidence fills volumes on library shelves, the author present enough to conclusively demonstrate that the above three denials are not only without evidence, but totally contrary to the evidence. Many of specific claims made by Deniers (e.g. that gas chambers were used for delousing) are shown to be false. Many of the Deniers’ claims, when not involving a distortion of evidence, are shown to be outright fabrications. Deniers are, quite literally, telling lies for Hitler.
Shermer and Grobman have performed a great service by writing this book. It is well written, clearly presented and meticulously destroys the arguments put forward by Holocaust Deniers. Alas, it will not change the mind of an individual convinced that ‘The Six Million’ is a Jewish hoax. Such a person will dismiss the authors as working for a hostile Zionist-controlled establishment that seeks merely to oppress honest inquiry. After reading ‘Denying History’, those who wish to preserve the truth will know there is nothing honest about those seek to eradicate the past.
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