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Lying About Hitler Paperback – 16 Apr 2002

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; Reprint edition (28 Mar. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465021530
  • ISBN-13: 978-0465021536
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 617,713 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard J. Evans is Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University. His previous books include In Defence of History, Telling Lies about Hitler and the companions to this title, The Coming of the Third Reich and The Third Reich in Power. He lives outside Cambridge.

Product Description

About the Author

Richard J. Evans is Professor of Modern History at Cambridge University and a noted specialist on modern German history. He is the author of In Defense of History and Death in Hamburg.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Adrian Mcmenamin on 4 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
This book sat on my shelves for a long time and I was put off reading it by the idea it would be a rather dry account of either a lengthy libel trial or an academic defence of historicism as an institution. I was wrong, it is a brilliantly polemical destruction of David Irving - a man who lied himself into being taken seriously and then sought to silence those who challenged his lies through a libel writ.
Evans tells his story brilliantly - managing indeed to defend his profession of professional historian while also exposing just how dishonest Irving always was. An added bonus is how Evans calls out more than a few 'liberal' or 'libertarian' commentators who got the nature of the court case and what David Irving was really all about so very wrong.
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24 of 34 people found the following review helpful By N. J. Mazonowicz on 16 April 2004
Format: Hardcover
"You know that David Irving? He's completely made up. He didn't happen at all". So said Stephen Fry.
In April 2000, David Irving took the author Deborah Lipstadt to court over allegations that he had systematically distorted evidence to fit in with his own ideas of holocaust denial. Evans was expert witness for the defence and in this utterly fascinating book, he shows us step by step how he was able to prove that David Irving did systematically distort the evidence. He also explores how the trial was able to turn from a mere libel case into something bigger; a trial which was seen as putting not only the Holocaust on trial, but even accepted notions of truth and falsehood.
Before this book, David Irving had a (slightly tarnished) reputation as a controversial but diligent researcher with an astonishing grasp of primary material. The picture of Irving that emerges from this book is that of an increasingly deranged demagogue; constantly interupting witnesses in his interogations, spending time trying to show the anti-semitism of 19th century writers in a startling display of irrelevance and addressing the judge as 'Mein Fuhrer'. However, a particularly strange atmosphere surrounding this trial; at times it seemed like it was Irving himself who was on trial; portraying himself (and being portrayed in some quarters) as fearlessly resisting the might of the Jewish-Zionist lobby attempting to supress him (as if it was Lipstadt who had launched the libel suit), a factor which Evans captures well.
In his examination of the evidence in this book, Evans limits himself to a few key case studies; which may be fustrating to the casual reader wanting more, nevertheless this is an utterly fascinating account of an untterly fascinating case.
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1 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. Billington on 31 Aug. 2014
Format: Hardcover
The fact that Evans relies here on a series of tedious, sanctimonious, ramblings and petty personal attacks, whilst at the same time failing to even tackle, let alone refute, the many reasonable and valid arguments Irving has articulated, both in the courtroom and in a series of books over the last 35 some years, about this curious period in our modern history, says it all...

I begrudgingly give it 1 star and suggest readers go watch a wall of paint dry for a more rewarding experience.

Or, if you want to read something from a real historian, you could try one of Irving's books?
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 70 reviews
18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Excellent book. I am a student of WW II ... 21 Aug. 2014
By stkevin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent book. I am a student of WW II History and came across this book when I was contemplating buying "Hitler's War" by David Irving. The "new" light in which Irving's meticulous research portrayed Hitler troubled me and yet intrigued me. Irving seemed to be viewed with some respect in academic circles because he was one of the first, and certainly the most authoritative, experts on Hitler in the world. A great deal of World War II History has been re-written in the last 20 years by scholars who have rolled up their sleeves, done the meticulous and boring research, and taken the time to hunt down peripheral sources, etc. According to the reviews on Amazon, Irving seemed to have done exactly this regarding Hitler. The result appeared to be a slightly more sympathetic view of Hitler, and a very negative view of his generals. There were just enough negative reviews of Irving's book to cause me to wonder. Also, many of the "comments" left by Irving supporters on these negative reviews were "hate" comments that clearly held Hitler in esteem. Then I came across this book. A women in England had accused Irving of being a Holocaust denier. A very serious charge to be leveled against a respected historian who had a reputation of meticulous and painstaking research. Irving sued. Evan's book is about that lawsuit. Evans was hired by the woman's defense team to engage in the distinctly unglamorous and tedious job of reading Irving's secondary source materials, many of them in German, to see if Irving was accurate in his research. What Evans found was astounding. Irving had repeatedly lied and misquoted many of his alleged "sources". It was clear that Irving was a closet Hitler sympathizer and that he had slanted his research. The more Evans researched, the more Irving's reputation unravelled. The book is a very good read. If you want to find out what happened in the trial, read the Book.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
A very important book about an extremely important trial, in which truth and history were at stake, told by a major participant 30 Jan. 2015
By Kiwiwriter - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard J. Evans is one of the foremost historians on Nazi Germany, whose research and writing skills are nothing short of meticulous.

In 1999, American historian Deborah Lipstadt was sued by David Irving over the contents of her book, "Denying the Holocaust," which described Irving as a Holocaust denier. Irving sued Prof. Lipstadt for libel in British courts, which put the burden of proof on the defendants, forcing Lipstadt, and her publisher, Penguin, to prove their words were true. A heavy burden, indeed)

(Ironically, had Irving sued in an American court, I have read, he might have had an easier time -- he desired to play Clarence Darrow against William Jennings Bryan with himself as Darrow and Prof. Lipstadt as Bryan, and that would have happened in the American system, not in the British courts).

Prof. Lipstadt and Penguin hired Prof. Evans as one of their expert witnesses to prove that Irving was a Holocaust denier and had misrepresented history. Prof. Evans did so, and testified for the defense, brilliantly shredding Irving's "research" and pretensions to ribbons, assailing Irving's mass of distortions. Irving tried to hammer Prof. Evans on the witness stand, with Irving treating the Oxbridge professor like a recalcitrant third-grader, but scored no points with the judge -- Irving lost his case, and badly. The judgment cited Prof. Evans at great length, and Irving was exposed as a Holocaust denier, Nazi apologist, and something of a fraud and bully.

Prof. Evans' own account of how he prepared his reports and faced Irving on the stand is gripping reading for the historian and history buff (two different types of people). Prof. Evans explains how history should be studied, researched, and approached, and the alternating grim and comical realities of defending that report on the witness stand. He discusses the importance of history, and its relevance to the world we live in and the world we are trying to build as human beings, a community, and a society.

This book is a very important book about a very important subject. Holocaust deniers, apologists for Hitler, and anti-Semites all have a simple goal: to rehabilitate the name of Der Fuehrer so as to make Nazism a reasonable, palatable, and successful political force again, thus enabling the cynics and liars who make up neo-Nazism to take power, whether in their communities or at larger levels, and then resume his agenda of genocide, kleptomania, sadism, and destruction. We have already endured one round of this ideology -- humanity does not need, nor can it really stand, another.

Anyone who is concerned with this subject, or on what defines history, or on what it means to do the right thing, should read this book
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Excellent explanation of good scholarship in history and process research 18 Nov. 2013
By David Ahlstrom - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Richard Evans is one of the top historians on modern Germany today. He has written several outstanding works including the "Third Reich" trilogy, which is highly recommended. I see that a number of Amazon's reviewers do not understand the current book, nor do they seem to understand how scholarship and peer review works. I have been an editor for management and international business journals for many years and have had to read and review well over one thousand manuscripts (articles, books, monographs). There is a standard for scholarship; particularly for determining if an event is likely to have occurred (unfortunately, we do not yet have anything like the Central Limit Theorem for historical and process research, as is contained in much historical scholarship). Still it is possible to make a reasonable case for what events occurred and what was much less likely. In this interesting book, Richard Evans argued that the Holocaust deniers' scholarship is flawed on many accounts. For example, Holocaust deniers often argue that Hitler did not know about Kristallnacht (in 1938) and was not in favor of it. This is highly unlikely as Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels was with Hitler during much of that night, and Goebbels was the driving force behind that awful 1938 event. I see this type of poor scholarship all the time in the business field also in the papers and books I have to review; many researchers in our field do not understand how to use past research - evidence, definitions, concepts -- to build their cases. They basically ignore past research and claim to be "discovering" new things. I have found this is rarely the case. I have no 'pony in this particular race' but after reading several of Evans' works, and that of some other German scholars (e.g. Götz Aly, Joachim Fest), I can see that the Holocaust deniers who are critics of these fine scholars' works do not understand proper scholarship. That is why they cannot present their works or make their arguments in front of anyone who knows the field. Thus they just write up their arguments on the Internet, where there is no peer review or vetting of the poor work. But I also have to say, the only reason I did not give this book five stars is because Professor Evans failed to follow up his critique of the Holocaust deniers' writings in several places in the book. He would sometimes show how they were wrong, but then (sometimes) fail to show what the correct sequence of events were. This happened several times in the book, and as a nonspecialist reader, I felt a little unsatisfied as I wish I could have learned more about the Holocaust deniers' errors contrasted with the well-accepted views of an event by scholars. To learn more about the Third Reich, I would thus point readers to Evans' recent trilogy of books (e.g. The Coming of the Third Reich, The Third Reich in Power, and The Third Reich at War). They are outstanding, very detailed and thorough.
128 of 189 people found the following review helpful
A Valuable and Necessary Book 3 July 2002
By Katherine Woodbury - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This book is an outcome of the libel trial brought by David Irving against Penguin Books (in general) and Deborah Lipstadt (specifically). A historian and modern social commentator, Deborah Lipstadt had referred to Irving as a Holocaust denier (and a poor historian) three or four times in a nearly 600-page book. Irving took exception and sued her for libel. He waited to sue her in England where the burden of proof is on the defendant, not the Plaintiff. Evans was one of the many historians asked, by the defense, to prove that Lipstadt was not committing libel when she called Irving a Holocaust denier.

Evans has consequently built up a massive body of evidence to show that Irving continually, and with knowledge, suppressed historical facts and documents to support his position. Evans presents both the process of his investigation and the conclusions that he reached. Evans makes a formidable case. He points successfully to incident after incident where Irving knew that information was incorrect and still used it. Evans also points out that Irving's "mistakes" were all in one direction, not chaotic as one might expect from a researcher that didn't have enough time on his hands or was uncertain about his material.

Lying About Hitler clarifies a number of issues, the first being that Irving was not the defendant (I thought so when I first heard about the case). Irving was suing Lipstadt, not the other way around. It was Lipstadt's freedom of speech (and Penguin Books') that was under attack. If Irving had won, he and others like him would have been able to stop (or attempt to stop) anyone who called them liars or disagreed with their position.
Another issue Evans deals with is the "but history is so hard to interpret" argument. Evans points out, again and again, that this trial was not about the interpretation of historical facts but the misuse of historical documentation (either invented or avoided). Evans' chapter on Irving's research of the bombing of Dresden is fascinating in this regard.
This kind of book confirms the importance of historical research for its own sake. History is so easily (and so often) manipulated for political purposes (on both sides of the fence). It is so much more important to figure out what happened and why as objectively as possible than to "prove" political agendas.
Recommendation: Buy it in paperback or hardcover. If you don't have the cash, take it out of the library. It is definitely worth a read.
150 of 227 people found the following review helpful
The case against David Irving 10 Mar. 2001
By pnotley@hotmail.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Did you know that during the Beer Hall Putsch Hitler was firmly opposed to anti-Semitic violence and when he heard that some Nazis had attacked Jewish stores he summoned them and summarily dismissed them from the party? Well if you don't know, don't blame yourself, it's not actually true. And if you thought you knew this you have been misled by David Irving. As Richard J. Evans points out in this useful book, what Irving did was rely on the testimony at Hitler's trial of a Nazi Party member and Munich police officer. Aside from massaging various details to make Hitler look even more principled that the witness said he was, Irving ignored the fact that the witness was obviously trying to improve Hitler's image and even the amazingly indulgent tribunal agreed he was too partial a witness to be believed. As readers will find out in this book, this is not the first nor the last questionable interpretation Irving has inflicted on his readers.
This book arises out of last year's libel trial in which Irving sued the American author Deborah Lipstadt for claiming he was a Holocaust denier. He lost his case, basically because Lipstadt and her lawyers were able to show that in fact he was one. Evans, a distinguished historian of modern Germany was asked to examine Irving's work, and he produced a damning affidavit that showed that Irving had systematically distorted the evidence in order to euphemize and indulge Hitler's actions. Surprisingly, Irving went into the trial with a much better reputation than he deserved. He was able to quote prominent and respected historians who claimed that, regardless of his views on the Holocaust, his other work was often scholarly and informative. People wondered out loud whether a court was a good place to hear such a case, forgetting that it was Irving who launched the case. Evans points out that this was not the first time Irving had resorted to the courts as a substitute for scholarly debate. He was suing the journalist Gitta Sereny for libel, bullied John Lukacs' publishers with libel threats, and had lost a libel suit against an author who had attacked his sensationalistic book on the death of General Sikorski.
Evans believes justice was done, and provides an excellent case. He shows how Irving made all sorts of distortions and misleading statements. A supposedly damning statement about Jewish crime turns out to be based on Nazi propaganda. Even worse, Irving managed to distort even these statements to say Jews were responsible for 31,000 fraud cases, mostly insurance swindles in 1932 (In fact there were only 74 Gentiles and Jews charged with insurance swindles in that year). A key source for Irving's indulgent account of the Kristallnacht turns out to be based on a neo-Nazi apologist. Evans details Irving's links to Holocaust deniers, and points out the fact that he was the last person on earth to vouch for the authenticity of the forged Hitler diaries.
While many people agree that Irving may have a bee in his bonnet about the Holocaust, they say his other work is valuable. Evans helpfully deflates that view with a chapter on Irving's book on the Destruction of Dresden. Whereas most scholars suggest that at most 40-50,000 people died in the firebombing of the city, Irving has suggested that up to a quarter of a million may have died. How did he do this? Well, without any real evidence he took one estimate of 40,000 and argued that the assessor had just dropped a "1" at the beginning in response to Soviet pressure. His source for a total of 200-250,000 amount to little more than fifth-hand hearsay of a document that had been excerpted, transcribed, transcribed again and copied, and which was a fraud in the first place. Evans points out that Irving tried to exaggerate the number of people in Dresden by cited 1.25 million ration cards, except that the British had previously dropped thousands of ration cards in order to muck up the Nazi bureaucracy. And, oh yes, Evans points out that Irving ignores or minimizes contemporary German documents that show that the death total was about the tenth of his estimate. All in all, this is a very useful book, one that should help demolish the reputation of a most overrated and sinister figure.
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