Title: Denial: Holocaust History on Trial (originally published as History on Trial: My Day in Court With David Irving)
Author: Deborah E. Lipstadt
Genre: Nonfiction – history, law
Number of Pages: 400
My Rating: ★★★★☆
David Irving, a British historian, sued Deborah Lipstadt, an American historian, for libel after she called him a Holocaust denier in her book Denying the Holocaust. What followed was a six-year-long legal battle between truth and lies.
Denial is an absolutely riveting book.
I decided to read this book after enjoying the 2016 movie which was based on the book. I wasn’t disappointed.
The narrative is compelling and the history, law, and courtroom strategy are fascinating. Through perceptive descriptions, Lipstadt does an excellent job bringing to life the people who were involved.
This is an important book. As Lipstadt writes, the job falls to historians to preserve historical truth. Long after eyewitnesses are gone, historians must preserve their stories. This trial was a battle for truth and freedom of speech. Its outcome was landmark. The trial proved that the best way to fight lies is with truth.
One minor flaw with the book is that the academic-sounding writing is sometimes a tad clunky. A few sentences baffled me. However, this does not detract much from the overall engaging nature of the narrative. I had no trouble staying interested through all 400 pages.
I highly recommend this book.
I recommend this to:
- Adults (the book contains brief strong language and numerous references to mature and disturbing subjects).
- Those with an interest in law or history.
• I considered him the most dangerous of Holocaust deniers because unlike other deniers, who were known only for being deniers, Irving was the author of numerous books about World War II and the Third Reich, some of which were well regarded.
• How, I wondered, could someone who had called the Holocaust a “legend” argue that he wasn’t a denier?
• British law placed the burden of proof on me as the defendant. It was a mirror image of American law. In the United States Irving would have to prove I lied. In the United Kingdom I had to prove I told the truth.
• For four years I prepared for this trial by immersing myself in the works of a man who exuded contempt for me and for much of what I believed.
• Poet Paul Celan asked who will be the witnesses for the witnesses? This trial demonstrated that historians will be those witnesses.