History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving

History on Trial: My Day in Court with David Irving

Hardback

By (author) Deborah E. Lipstadt

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  • Publisher: HarperCollins World
  • Format: Hardback | 378 pages
  • Dimensions: 162mm x 230mm x 34mm | 662g
  • Publication date: 3 March 2005
  • ISBN 10: 0060593768
  • ISBN 13: 9780060593766

Product description

In 1993, Deborah E. Lipstadt, a professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University, published the first comprehensive history of the Holocaust denial movement. In this critically acclaimed account, Lipstadt called David Irving -- a prolific, respected, and well-known writer on World War II who had, over the years, made controversial statements about Hitler and the Jews -- one of the most dangerous spokespersons of the denial movement. A year later, when Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin UK, for libel in a London courtroom, the media spotlight fell on Deborah Lipstadt and, by extension, on the historiography of the Holocaust. Five years later, when David Irving lost his case after an intense ten-week trial, Lipstadt's resounding victory was proclaimed on front pages of newspapers worldwide. The implications of the trial, however, were far from over. History on Trial is Deborah Lipstadt's personal, riveting chronicle of the legal battle with Irving, in which she went from a relatively quiet existence as a professor at an American university to being a defendant in a sensational libel case. This blow-by-blow account reveals how Lipstadt raised $1.5 million for her defense, which included a first-rate team of solicitors, historians, and experts, among them Anthony Julius, a literary scholar who is better known as the late Princess Diana's divorce lawyer. Lipstadt describes how in forced silence she endured Irving's relentless provocations, including his claims that more people died in Senator Kennedy's car at Chappaquiddick than in the gas chambers at Auschwitz, that survivors tattooed numbers on their arms to make money, and that nonwhite people are a different "species." She also reveals how her lawyers gained access to Irving's personal papers, which exposed his association with neo-Nazi extremists in Germany, former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, and the National Alliance, which wants to transform America into an "Aryan society." In the course of the trial, Lipstadt's legal team stripped away Irving's mask of respectability through exposing the prejudice, extremism, and distortion of history that defined his work, even his once highly regarded account of the Dresden bombing. Part history, part edge-of-your-seat courtroom drama, History on Trial goes beyond the historiography of World War II and the Holocaust to reveal the intricate way in which extremism and deliberate historical distortions gain widespread legitimacy and help generate hatred. An inspiring personal story of perseverance and unexpected limelight, here is the definitive account of the trial that tested the standards for historical and judicial truths, a trial that the Daily Telegraph of London proclaimed did "for the new century what the Nuremberg tribunals or the Eichmann trial did for earlier generations."

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Editorial reviews

Absorbing account of the famed libel trial, in London, that brought the whole enterprise of Holocaust denial to the bench. In Denying the Holocaust (1993), Lipstadt (History/Emory Univ.) described British historian David Irving as "a Hitler partisan wearing blinkers," a man who "on some level seems to conceive himself as carrying on Hitler's legacy." Dangerous words, particularly since Irving had written books on the history of the Third Reich that had been well received; the eminent military historian John Keegan, for instance, praised Irving's Hitler's War as one of the best books ever written about WWII. Irving, who had earned enough money from the sales of his books to own a Rolls-Royce and keep a place in London's fashionable Mayfair district, was quick to sue. It took six years for the case to come to trial, but when it did, Lipstadt and her legal team were stunningly well prepared; among other documents, they had a 700-page dossier prepared by historian Richard J. Evans examining the sources Irving claims to have used in making his years-long argument that Hitler was innocent of having ordered the extermination of European Jews. Lipstadt's reconstruction of the trial as it played out day by day has its dry patches, but her account rises above the case itself to indict the demimonde of Holocaust deniers generally. Into the bargain, Lipstadt convincingly characterizes Irving as a litigious anti-Semite with a penchant for bending historical facts to suit repellent theories, as the court concluded. By the end, following a couple of cliffhanger moments, readers will sense that justice has been done, though plenty of puzzling aspects remain: Irving continues to speak and publish, and, in the wake of the court's judgment, prominent historians, including Keegan, rose to his defense. This last word in the matter of DJC Irving v. Penguin Books Ltd and Deborah Lipstadt is a fascinating and meritorious work of legal-and moral-history. (Kirkus Reviews)