David Irving is a leading Holocaust revisionist. He sued Penguin Books for libel claiming he had been falsely labelled a Holocaust denier.
The trial was one of the strangest to take place in an English court: the judge had to give a verdict on history.
At stake was the freedom of neo-fascist historians to exonerate Hitler and to deny that the Nazis set out to commit genocide, but this was also a trial about the present day, about what out society finds it politically and morally acceptable to say in public.
It was also a libel trial about evidence: how do we know that the genocide happened?
D.D. Guttenplan has followed David Irving's career for years and has studied the furious debates over the Holocaust.
This is a dramatic recreation of a bizarre trial and a meditation on truth and memory.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 352 pages, maps
- Publisher: Granta Books
- Publication Date: 01/01/2002
- ISBN: 9781862074866
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Review by queensheherezade
This is quite a rewarding read if you can persevere through the extensive historical detail given during the course of this momentous trial. This book was a prescribed text for a subject I took in law school some 5 years ago and it has stayed in my mind ever since. Guttenplan gives a pithy, refreshingly objective account of the David Irving libel case against American author and professor Deborah Lipstadt, held in 1999. Irving, a frightful fascist, unabashed racist and pseudo-historian of global ill-repute, unsuccessfully represented himself at the trial and subsequently lost in one of the most spectacular judgments I have ever read. In particular, I find myself returning to the final 2 chapters - "A Reasoned Judgment" and "Numbers" - again and again on account of Guttenplan's vivid description of the devastating judgment against Irving, and his well considered discussion of holocaust denial, anti-semitism and Zionism. This book is an accomplishment - Guttenplan sat through every day of the trial - and a firm testament to Guttenplan's talent as a writer and scrupulous journalist. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys having their thoughts provoked, poked and prodded.