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We hope that his knowledge of colloquial German has improved since he gave (or rather sold) his expert evidence in the Lipstadt trial, and that he has memorised the names and positions of at least some of the top Nazis.

London, Wednesday, January 16, 2008


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David Irving comments:

   AS for the much-praised scholar Richard "Skunky" Evans, we hope that his knowledge of colloquial German has improved since he gave (or rather sold) his expert evidence in the Lipstadt trial, and that he has memorised the names and positions of at least some of the top Nazis (Albert Speer springs to mind).
   His much-vilified three-volume history of the Third Reich has an interesting history: besides paying him half a million pounds to give his unbiased and objective views about me in the trial of DJC Irving vs. Penguin Books Ltd and Lipstadt, Penguin Books secretly negotiated a one million pound contract for this turgid opus; this interesting fact was not disclosed to the High Court -- the views of the judge, Sir Charles Gray, who later called the payments made to the expert witnesses "obscene", would have been interesting to hear.
   The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, reviewing this Evans opus, titled its review, "Kein feines Ohr Richard Evans hebt zu einem dreibändigen Werk über das Dritte Reich" -- they deemed the first volume of his Trilogy boring, needlessly elaborate, and insensitive ("weil das Wesen der Geschichte nun einmal die Nuance ist, in Evans' voluminöser, von viel überflüssiger Ausführlichkeit begleiteter Darstellung zuweilen einfach vermißt.")

Richard Evans

   I guess Evans will prefer to stick with the opinions of his Jewish friends and -- in the Lipstadt trial -- paymasters.
   I wrote in an earlier piece of the Faustian pledge this left-wing Cambridge history professor had signed when they paid him up to half a million pounds (plus hidden bonuses) for his "expert evidence" against me; he is now lumbered with these unlikeable friends for the rest of his life.


The Prime Minister has a humdinger of an appointment to make: a professor of history at Cambridge

Knock-knocking on Evans' door?

by Tristram Hunt

AS Gordon Brown [British prime minister] is no doubt discovering, the day-to-day powers of a prime minister are limited. In contrast to HM Treasury, No10 is a small town house with neither a vast departmental budget nor a legion of civil servants. But what the denizen of Downing Street still controls is the power of patronage -- and sitting in Mr Brown's in-tray is a humdinger of an appointment, the Regius Professorship of Modern History at the University of Cambridge.

Much has been made of Gordon Brown's status as Britain's first with a history PhD. The recently launched History & Policy think-tank, composed of academics trying to interest politicians in studying the lessons of the past, has placed great hopes in a more reflective Brown Government after the Year Zero mentality of the Blair years.

And there is no doubt Mr Brown enjoys debating and studying the past: his book on Jimmy Maxton and "Red Clydeside" is regarded as a sophisticated if rather dry account of Scottish socialism; his speeches on Britishness and liberty are inflected with a historical tradition influenced by 17th-century civic republicanism; and he has developed a History Channel-like enthusiasm for the derring-do of the Second World War, with a planned new volume of his Profiles in Courage to be drawn from heroic wartime accounts. But Mr Brown now has a wonderful chance to send a powerful signal about the kind of history he thinks is important to 21st-century Britain. The Regius Professorship of History is a glorious post stretching back to the 18th century and its ranks have variously included the great chronicler of liberty Lord Acton, the social historian G.M.Trevelyan, and the Tudor expert Sir Geoffrey Elton. Its current holder, Quentin Skinner, a professor of political thought, retires later this year and discreet soundings are being taken at High Table for a replacement.

StinktierFavourite for the job is the brilliant if belligerent scholar of Nazi Germany, Richard Evans (right). Presently engaged in writing a massive, multi-volume account of the Reich, his other claim to fame is a comprehensive demolition of David Irving in his Holocaust-denier libel case. In a High Court tour de force, Professor Evans took him to task over mistranslated documents, the use of discredited testimony and falsified historical statistics. "Irving has fallen so far short of the standards of scholarship customary among historians," Evans concluded, "that he does not deserve to be called a historian at all." His appointment would confirm Mr Brown's enthusiasm for the centrality of the Second World War to our national story.

Running him a close second is the imperial and naval historian Sir Christopher Bayly. A South Asian enthusiast and 18th-century expert, Sir Christopher has been a pioneer in the history of globalisation. As politicians grapple with all the problems of mass migration, multiculturalism and post-imperial identities, his work has sought to unpick the roots of these modern complexities in the mid-1700s. His is a fascinating chronicle of interdependence, cultural exchange and global networks, powerfully relevant for present day policymakers.

Then there is the outfield. We will know that the PM has fallen victim to the securocrats if Christopher Andrew is offered the job. The official chronicler of MI5, his studies have unearthed many dirty secrets of the former Soviet Union -- including the exposure of Melita Norwood, the "great-granny spy", as the longest-serving Russian agent in Britain. By contrast, Mr Brown could burnish his progressive credentials by promoting the radicals' choice, Gareth Stedman Jones, a former "new Left" guru and pioneer social historian, and now working on a definitive biography of Marx.

Mr Brown, however, could have his own ideas. Among the historians who have most influenced his thinking is the Princeton-based academic, Linda Colley. Her book, Britons: Forging the Nation, described how British national identity was moulded in the 18th century in the furnace of war, empire and Protestantism. While some concluded from her work that if Britishness was an artificial 1700s construct then it could just as easily be abandoned in an era of post-national ethnic affiliations, Mr Brown has used her history to argue for a new assertion of British identity for a modern age. Like few others, Professor Colley's work has informed his entire approach to Britishness and citizenship and she would be an impressive appointment.

Then there is the nuclear option: Gertrude Himmelfarb. Wife of the Trotskyist turned neoconservative guru Irving Kristol, this great doyenne of reactionary history has somehow inveigled the Prime Minister under her spell. Her specialism is Victorian attitudes to poverty and she herself has long adopted the lofty mien of a lady bountiful: for Professor Himmelfarb, the problems of the poor are always questions of morality and character, not class or condition. No doubt this appeals to Mr Brown's Puritan ethos just as her championing of the British enlightenment above the continental version tickles his Euroscepticism. Yet she is a New Yorker born and bred and, at her impressive age, will not be swapping Central Park for the Cambridge fens.

Whoever [sic] he chooses, Mr Brown should get stuck in [sic]. One of the more misguided reforms under consideration is removing Downing Street from public appointments. But when it comes to bishops and dons, a little bit of politics helps: it makes academia more relevant, and politicians more reflective. It does well for prime ministers to take an interest in their professors -- for unless, like Churchill, they write their own histories, these will be the scribes handing down the judgment of posterity.

Tristram Hunt lectures in history at Queen Mary, University of London: See his blogs [1] and [2]

... on this website: 

Index on Richard Evans
Publisher drops Irving trial book
Die Zeit reviews Eva Menasse's book
Richard Evans: Lying About Hitler: History, the Holocaust and the David Irving Trial [Our book review]
Prof. Evans smears Prof. Ernst Nolte, says world's Jews "never declared war on Nazi Germany"


Cover book: Building Jerusalem by Tristram Hunt
Victor will owe less to history than to how we see ourselves
Man of hope and glory

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