September 16, 2014 | Rome, Italy | Partly Cloudy 16°C
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History

Stalingrad

Antony Beevor's account of the Nazi-Soviet faceoff is chilling enough to stop you dead.

Sports&Leisure

What a Time it Was: The Best of W.C. Heinz on Sports

The most underrated and little-known American sportswriter is also the best.

Nonfiction

Nothing to Envy

In bleak and dark North Korea, Barbara Demick digs in to find a love story.

Unfamiliar Fishes

With the checkered history of Hawaii at her disposal, Vowell offers mostly kitsch.

Bottom of the 33rd

Minus Easter trimmings, Dan Barry has written a compelling baseball book.

The Long Season

Jim Brosnan's baseball reminscence is a rare bird: Words by a player who can write.

Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty

Jennifer Clark's careful accounting of Fiat's ups and downs is essential Italy reading.

On the Natural History of Destruction

Understanding the whole of World War II requires digging into Sebald's musings.

Street Art Stories – Roma

Tracking Rome street art is a noble cause, but not when words get in the way.

Naples '44: An Intelligence Officer in the Italian Labyrinth

Little written about World War II and southern Italy rivals Lewis' memoir.




BOOK REVIEW
Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do They Say It?
By Michael Shermer and Alex Grobman
University of California Press, 2000. 312 pages

What can be more infuriating than a Holocaust denier? What does anyone have to gain by denying the murder of millions? Why bother writing a book about these lunatics at all? Shermer and Grobman offer a meticulous autopsy of the problem, explaining what we mean by the term "history" and how that differs from "pseudo-history.” Reliable history rests on what they call a "convergence of evidence" — if, say, four independent lines of evidence converge on a single conclusion, there’s good reason to believe a particular event actually happened. In the denier's mind, the entire edifice of history and all its myriad convergences of evidence can be conveniently toppled by harping on a single inconsistency in the theory.

Often a denier will point out that Hitler never issued a direct order to murder six million Jews (or more, if he hadn't lost the war), thereby "proving" that the Holocaust could not have happened — or, at least, that Hitler was not its principal ideologue. This is a bit like saying that no planes hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001 because, if they had, there would have been a wrecked jet or two among the rubble. The first-hand testimony of thousands of victims, the admissions of guilt of the crimes' perpetrators, the voluminous archives of documents, photographs, transcriptions, train schedules, mass graves, gas chambers and the decimation of European Jewry itself would be enough to convince most sane people that what we call the Holocaust indeed happened.

Importantly, the term "Holocaust" refers not to a single event in time, but to a confluence of events over a period of time; not to any written command, but to a series of stepped-up measures over the years — propaganda, social restrictions, intimidation, organized violence, ghettoization, deportation, etc… which culminated in the deliberate murder of between five and six million Jews. To deny this is to deny history.

Through interviews with the principal deniers themselves and a systematic refutation of their claims, Shermer and Grobman have written an invaluable book. Far from being simply a bunch of losers on the sidelines of history (most of them certainly are that as well), Holocaust-deniers represent an insidious political movement with a most wicked eye on the prize.

Reviewed by Marc Alan Di Martino
Everything you need to know about visiting or moving to Tuscany, Italy.