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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good but basic introduction, 10 April 2011
This review is from: Postmodernism and Holocaust Denial (Postmodern Encounters) (Paperback)
Postmodernism has been blamed for promoting a non-objective relativist view of reality which provides an intellectual environment within which holocaust deniers can flourish. This essay aims to show why this view is wrong and how postmodernism can actually provide the tools to fight holocaust deniers. It takes as its starting point the libel action holocaust denier David Irving took against Deborah Lipstadt regarding claims made in Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.

Most of this short book is taken up with providing a context for the trial and discussing the methodology of history. Postmodernism is only mentioned in detail quite late on in order to show that history is written in a particular 'genre', that holocaust deniers don't follow the rules of this genre, and therefore that they aren't historians. This means that to debate with them is nonsense as there is no debate to be had, the two 'sides' would be playing two different games with two different sets of rules.

I approached this essay as a layperson, and as such it provides a clear and understandable introduction to the subject, acting as a good starting point for further reading. However, I am not sure how useful someone more familiar with the subject would find it.

I also approached this as someone sceptical about postmodernism and inclined to believe that it can have dangerous repercussions in the real world (issues excellently dealt with in Why Truth Matters and Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture). This book does a good job of showing why holocaust denial can't be used to attack postmodernism, however I am still interested in how postmodernism can be defended regarding issues where the protagonists aren't as repugnant as holocaust deniers (something admittedly outside the scope of this particular book).

There is one small stylistic point which recurs throughout the book which I found incredibly irritating and distracting. Whenever a quoted author uses non-gender neutral language, Eaglestone highlights this by using 'sic', e.g.

"The historian confronts a veritable chaos of events already constituted, out of which he [sic] must choose the elements of the story he [sic] would tell. He [sic] makes his [sic] story by including some events and excluding others... That is to say he [sic] 'emplots' his [sic] story."

I think readers are intelligent enough to know that any text quoted is what the authors actually wrote, without the need of 'sic'; therefore its purpose seems to be to highlight their sexism and possibly to make a postmodern point as to the non-objectivity of any history, but this is patronizing to the reader and just serves to interrupt the flow of the text.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Apr 2012 01:37:02 BDT
amantedofado says:
Adding [sic] after occurrences of 'he' is patently pointless and indicative of the constipated way in which many postmodernists write. What language has no indications of gender? No different words for 'he', 'she', or 'it', no distinction between 'his', 'her' and 'its'? Completely gender neutral as so many extreme feminists and others would like it to be. The language (there are some others) is Persian (Farsi). Where is Persian spoken? Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan. Are conditions for women better in those countries than here? Quite the opposite. Therefore, I write 'u' in Persian and 'he', 'she' and 'it' in English.

In reply to an earlier post on 11 Dec 2012 12:20:27 GMT
Eleanor says:
Cf. the following in Garner's Legal Usage:

"Using "[sic]" at every turn to point out old sexist phrases is at best an otiose exercise, at worst a historically irresponsible example of mean-spiritedness. For a choice example of this, see James R. Nafziger, A Sicness unto Death, 1 Scribes J. Legal Writing 149 (1990). "
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