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Richard Evans book reviewed
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Richard Evans:

EvansLying About Hitler: History, the Holocaust and the David Irving Trial

(Basic Books, New York, $27.00),
336 pp. ISBN: 0-465-02152-2


LyingA FEW impressions gleaned from a ten minute browse (I did not want to buy the book). The book uses a large typeface; of its 336 pages only about 240 are text. A book is "stretched" this way to make it appear more substantial than it is, but in this case stretching did not even put it in the same league as the most slender Harry Potter book. The book seems to have been printed on acid-free paper that guarantees that it will still be readable 500 years from now, but I think that was an unnecessary provision in this case.

The book is in five sections: two are devoted to Hitler and the Jews, one to Holocaust Denial, one to Dresden, and a chapter to the Judgment of the trial. There are copious endnotes, but Evans does not use them to touch on digressive matters or expand his thinking, unlike, for example, Peter Novick, David Irving himself, and others. Thus there's little to chew on besides the text.

The text itself is a rehash of the expert report Evans that provided for the Lipstadt defense, delivered in a diffident and chatty tone. At least in this respect, Evans seems to have modulated the rhetoric that marred his expert opinions on David Irving and Joel Hayward.

This milder approach is evident in the section on Holocaust Denial, which occupies some forty-five pages in the middle of the book. Evans now takes pains to avoid the spittle-flying name-calling that characterizes most authors on the subject. "Deniers", as he calls them, are described relatively fairly; there are references to Arthur Butz and Robert Faurisson, and Evans resists the temptation to call the revisionists names, e.g., crackpots, and fruitcakes -- a temptation which Peter Novick was not able to resist.

Evans also avoids ascribing moral or political agendas to revisionists. In this chapter, as throughout the book, however, Evans uses Holocaust Denial to attack Irving. He emphasizes particular elements of "Denial", like the number of victims, or the penchant of revisionists to use ridicule. By going through the videotaped lectures of Irving, he then finds material to fit his own definition, and behold, he has found a "Holocaust denier". The quantity of either detail or actual argument is slender.

Perhaps needless to say, I could find nothing in this book find anything about the controversies surrounding the missing "holes in the roof of Crematorium II" at Auschwitz, or the air raid shelters either.

Auschwitz expert Robert van Pelt himself will be sore to find that he rates only two entries in the book's index: on page 199, for example, that Pelt recommended that Evans not look Irving in the eye, in order to avoid "getting angry."

I walked away from the bookstore disappointed. With most of the book taken up by materials on Dresden, Holocaust Denial, and the Judgment in the Lipstadt-Irving case, it seems almost dishonesty in advertising to call this book Lying About Hitler.

The main character of the book is not Hitler at all, but David Irving. Perhaps Lying About David Irving would have been a better indication of the book's contents. -- Samuel Crowell.

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