Monday, January 12, 2009

The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War Two by John Keegan

The Battle for History: Re-fighting World War Two by John Keegan is a short bibliographic essay providing some suggestions for reading on the Second World War, included is some acerbic commentary by Keegan. For the most part the list consists of reasonably popular titles. I'm pretty sure everything with the possible exceptions of the official histories and economic history books can be found in any half decent public library. This is definitely for the amateur in the field.

I do have a very big problem with Keegan flogging two of David Irving's books [including the infamous Hitler's War]. Keegan does mention that Irving's holocaust denial is nuts and that Irving has "far right views". What irks me here is that if Irving gets the holocaust wrong it puts into question everything else he has written. In fact there have been frequent charges of falsification of sources, selective editing of quotes and other highly questionable activities. This is not a recent phenomenon, it goes all the way back to Irving's first book on the Dresden bombing. These questions have been raised both in academic journals and in public settings such as the New York Times. It troubles me that Keegan is ignorant of these charges or doesn't seem to care. After all Keegan is being put forward here as an expert on the Second World War and it's historiography.

Not recommended.

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