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Thursday, July 15, 2004
Update II: Books
The past four weeks I've read a couple of books that I think would make for excellent summer reading. One of them's Lying About Hitler: History, Holocaust, and the David Irving Trial, by the Cambridge historian Richard J. Evans. (David Pryce-Jones has a review of it here.) Irving's a prolific author who's written a great many books attempting to deny or downplay the Holocaust. When historian Deborah Lipstadt called him a "Holocaust denier," Irving sued her for libel in Britain (where the odds are stacked in favor of the plaintiff). Evans, a very distinguished scholar even before the trial, was brought in as one of several expert witnesses to demonstrate the validity of Lipstadt's claims. This he accomplishes superbly in Lying About Hitler, an absolutely engrossing book that I recommend to anyone interested in history, historiography, law, postmodernism, or - since it reads like one - detective stories. I should add that Evans's earlier book, In Defense of History is equally good (and in fact was one of the reasons why he was asked to defend Lipstadt).
While we're on the topic of the Holocaust, I should probably mention the book I'm reading right now: George L. Mosse's Crisis of German Ideology, an intellectual and cultural history of Nazi ideology that begins in the middle of the 19th century with German Romanticism and Volkish thought, traces the rise of anti-Semitism and its institutionalization, and ends with the coming of the National Socialists to power as a logical (though not pre-determined) outcome of all that preceded it.