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London, Monday, September 2, 2002

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 Evans at home

Professor Richard Evans: "Arrogant?"



Letters - David Irving: the sequel

I RETURNED from holiday to read D D Guttenplan's review of Telling Lies about Hitler, my book on the David Irving libel trial (Books, 22 July). Guttenplan makes gratuitously offensive personal comments and unfounded allegations.

He says I have an 'unsympathetic personality' and suffer from 'arrogance' and 'vanity'. Could this have something to do with my critical review of his own book on the trial? He revealed his feelings the last time we met: 'You f*cked me in print'.

David Irving comments:

AS the Battleship Auschwitz slowly sinks beneath the surface of the sea of History, thanks to the efforts of real men of conscience like Fritjof Meyer, fighting, bickering, and backstabbing have broken out among its officers.
   As expected. At present they are fighting over the loot in its hold -- the royalties from the books these greedy gentlemen have rushed into print. Later, the loot will be taken from them.
   The only book worth reading on the Lipstadt trial (funny how they all chant in unison that it was the "Irving" trial) was the one by Don Guttenplan. Lipstadt's own long-awaited book may of course prove to be a masterpiece of literary endeavour eclipsing them all (but, uh, I doubt it).
   Meanwhile, two thumbs-up to Guttenplan's. Evans says, "Irving has said he has no objection to it". Not so: I emphatically endorse it as being the only one unsullied by cant and prejudice, notwithstanding the fact that G. is Jewish, and E. is not.

Guttenplan claims that I don't know very much about the Holocaust. He cites Raul Hilberg's estimate of Jewish victims of Nazism as 5.1 million, but that was made a long time ago, and discoveries in eastern Europe since 1990 have pushed the figure steadily upwards. He says, absurdly, that I think Holocaust deniers are postmodernists; I have never made such a ridiculous claim. He accuses me of overstating my own originality. But I pointed out that Irving was rumbled by Hugh Trevor-Roper, Gitta Sereny and others in the 1970s. Their discoveries, however, related to only a very small part of his work and Irving has written much, much more since then. It is offensive of Guttenplan to suggest that the 18 months of hard slog I put in with my research assistants failed to find anything new.

I never claimed, as Guttenplan asserts, that his book on the trial was soft on Irving. However, Irving has said he has no objection to it. Nor do I, as he supposes, arrogantly look down on journalists, at least not where they check their facts rather than dismissing those who do as 'pedants'.

Worst of all, Guttenplan joins the continuing campaign of personal vilification against me launched by Granta because I had the temerity to suggest that their last-minute decision not to publish my book might have had something to do with Irving's repeated threats of legal action. It was not I who was 'lacking in candour' about my doubts in signing a four-book deal with Granta. It was Granta's managing director, who assured me in the strongest possible terms that the company was committed to publishing Telling Lies whether or not I signed the other contracts. And I did not, as Guttenplan alleges, excise criticisms of Penguin from Telling Lies after that publisher had agreed to take a new book of mine. I had already excised them, because I had been advised to do so by my editor at Granta!

What we should all be doing is making common cause against England's iniquitous libel laws, which allow people like Irving to restrict freedom of speech by threatening defendants with huge and irrecoverable legal costs even where their writ stands no chance of success.

Richard J Evans
Professor of modern history
University of Cambridge



 Evans reviews Guttenplan book in Daily Telegraph (Mar 20, 2001), calls it "A controversial account of the Irving libel trial"
  Radical's Diary
 Sunday Telegraph: Irving's home is repossessed as libel debts mount
 Michael Burleigh writes: It is time for the David Irving libel case to be consigned to history
The Führer, The Jackal, The Professor and his Publishers

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