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History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving [Hardcover]

Deborah E. Lipstadt
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Mar 2005

In her acclaimed 1993 book Denying the Holocaust, Deborah Lipstadt called putative WWII historian David Irving "one of the most dangerous spokespersons for Holocaust denial." A prolific author of books on Nazi Germany who has claimed that more people died in Ted Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, Irving responded by filing a libel lawsuit in the United Kingdom -- where the burden of proof lies on the defendant, not on the plaintiff. At stake were not only the reputations of two historians but the record of history itself.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 378 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins World; 1st ed edition (3 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060593768
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060593766
  • Product Dimensions: 23.1 x 16.2 x 3.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 147,927 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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"Lipstadt's narration is compelling..." -- Daily Telegraph, April 2, 2005

About the Author

Deborah E. Lipstadt is Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies and director of the Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University. She is the author of Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
3.9 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Historian Deborah Lipstadt, in her 1993 book DENYING THE HOLOCAUST: THE GROWING ASSAULT ON TRUTH AND MEMORY, labeled historian David Irving a Holocaust denier. In 1995, Irving sued Lipstadt and her British publisher, Penguin, in the British courts, in which legal system the defendant (Lipstadt) had to prove that she told the truth rather than (as in the U.S. system) the plaintiff (Irving) prove that she lied.

In 2007, I attended a lecture by Deborah in which she summarized her 5-year experience defending her original claim. The story is also told in her 2005 book, HISTORY ON TRIAL. Having previously made sobering visits to the concentration camp sites at Dachau, Mauthausen and Auschwitz, I felt this book to be required reading.

HISTORY ON TRIAL is 305 pages long, 328 if you add "Acknowledgments" and "Notes". The core of the narrative, and the most interesting part for me, is the 187-page "Trial" section wherein the high points of the testimonies and cross-examinations during the 10-week trial at London's Royal Courts of Justice in 2000 are summarized. For any reader of historical non-fiction, what should prove instructive is the revelation how Irving, renowned for his books on Adolph Hitler, the Third Reich, and the European theater of World War II, distorted facts on a multitude of occasions in order to paint Hitler in a more favorable light, specifically, to present that the Fuehrer had no knowledge of the Holocaust and that the systematic killing of Jews was not directed from Berlin. He did this, apparently, to endear himself to contemporary white supremacist organizations. That Irving himself expressed racist and anti-Semitic sentiments, and that he was indeed a Holocaust denier, were the judgments of the court.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars None so blind as those who will not see. 28 Mar 2014
By Goose
Yeah sure Irving, like ALL historians used poetic license in certain research articles that were by definition sparse and vague. Aside from "being there" it's the best we can hope for. His research into WW2 is outstanding and certainly in the top echelons of histoirc writers on the subject and recommended reading by anyone intersted in WW2 research.

This book is drivel and pedantic in the extreme with quite blatant backing from highly suspect sources intent on denying free speech and muddying the waters as to what really happened in WW2 to the innocents and victims of not only the holocaust, but atrocities on all sides. The holocaust has tragically become big business and the BS far outweighs any denials. If only as much effort was put into revealing the truth by others, aside from Irving, the world would be a much better place. People like Lipstadt et al should not be allowed to deny us the truth by making us afraid to question *apparent* truths on all sides.

Nothing impartial about this book.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read 10 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a fascinating exposure of the problems of huge costs in defending legal actions, however robust the defence proves to be, and also an interesting comparison of the way UK and US law on libel operates. While initially critical of UK law processes, eventually hugely complimentary about how the leading practitioners perform. Also an important contribution to exposing how obtuse motives can distort the quality of the work of historians, and that blaming sloppiness is not an adequate response to misguided motivations. Also a strong message to those who believe they can act in person rather than through professional legal teams, who will always have more resource and more depth of brain power to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of plaintiff and defence. The subject matter of the litigation, while massively important, is almost secondary to the messages about the structure and processes and strengths and weaknesses exposed. Very well written, an easy read, almost like a regular court room thriller, but with a very serious undercurrent. Opens up many avenues for further research into the underlying subject matter and the absurdity of denying that something happened when there is such a vast array of evidence that says that it did take place. Mr Irving comes across as a later generation King Canute. However, even though this subject was clearly the wrong battleground, the right of a professional historian who does his job thoroughly and properly, without unjustified distortion for which there is no evidence, to have a different opinion from the mainstream, should not be denied. Do read it!!
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8 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When law and history collide 12 Sep 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I confess I haven't quite finished reading this book, but I find it absolutely riveting, and not a book to rush. So far, the only factual error I have found is a reference to "High Heyburn" (instead of Holborn) when describing her visit to London to meet her legal team. If anyone was under the mistaken impression that this was an unequal fight between a maverick historian (Irving) and a wealthy "establishment", the book should dispel that notion. Ms Lipstadt faced the possibility of having to find 1.6 million dollars to fund her lawyers, or do the lawyerly thing and settle out of court by offering Irving a retraction and apology - this to a man who once said to a concentration camp survivor "how much money have you made out of that tattoo since 1945?" and who, though commended by the trial judge for his skills and attention to detail as a military historian, has consistently downplayed all the evidence about the existence of gas chambers and the death toll at Auschwitz, claiming that he is doing no more than exercising the judgment of a historian. Ms Lipstadt is emotional (pausing to speak some prayers at Auschwitz) where her counsel Richard Rampton is practical and hard headed ("this is not a sentimental journey. It's for forensics") and this excellent book should be read in conjunction with the full judgment of Mr Justice Gray from April 2000, available on the web at the Bailii website.

Does the law have a role in upholding historical truth, and should history be a free-for-all where every opinion, however ill-founded, should compete on equal terms for public support? All very topical, in a world where anger about Israel's savage military actions often translates into hostility towards all jews, even those who died long ago in gas chambers that have been demolished and whose existence is supposedly open to question.
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