Unless correspondents ask us not to, this Website will post selected letters that it receives and invite open debate.
writes from the United States on August 1, 1999:
A professor's horror when an Irving book is selected
I FIRST became aware that you must have something interesting to say when I was pursuing a Master's degree in History at Villanova University in the eighties. An assignment in the class I was taking required us to select two authors who had written on a given subject, and compare and contrast their respective approaches, methodologies, etc.
I chose your work Hitler's War, and for my other author I chose Friedrich Meinecke, The German Catastrophe. The Professor (to be specific a "professorin" whose antecedents obviously I don't have to detail here) checked with all the students to see what their choices had been. Much to my surprise, when she noticed my choices, she went off on me (do you have that expression in England?) -- Actually she went off on you, foaming at the mouth about what a scurrilous imposter you were.
Being a courageous, independent-minded budding scholar, I instantly changed my selection from you to Joachim Fest's biography of Hitler. She gave my paper an A, commenting how perceptive it was, and saying that she was glad that I had finally found two authors who were worthy of my critical skills!
The intensity of that woman's reaction utterly fascinated me. It was one of the initial events which led to what I call my awakening (sorry to sound so pretentious, but that is the best way to characterize such a shift in consciousness or awareness). I read a number of your works after that, and continue to follow your work and career with great interest. I hope you continue to write and teach for many years to come. Your influence can't be measured or quantified in any conventional sense.
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