From the Pro­to­cols of the Elders of Zion to Holo­caust Denial Tri­als: Chal­leng­ing the Media, Law and the Academy

Deb­o­rah R. Kauf­man; Ger­ald Her­man; James Ross; David Phillips, eds.
  • Review
By – March 23, 2012

How effec­tive are attempts to deny the Holo­caust? What tools are employed to do so? Why are anti-Semit­ic invec­tive and his­tor­i­cal dis­tor­tion so stub­born­ly persistent? 

This vol­ume explores these alarm­ing ques­tions through nine well-researched essays penned by some of the most respect­ed Holo­caust schol­ars study­ing this issue. 

The book grew out of an inter­na­tion­al con­fer­ence held at North­east­ern Uni­ver­si­ty in Boston in 2001. The con­fer­ence was orga­nized around a law­suit filed by David Irv­ing, a Holo­caust denier, against Deb­o­rah Lip­stadt, an Amer­i­can his­to­ri­an, and Pen­guin Books, her publisher. 

Edit­ed by four pro­fes­sors from North­east­ern, the vol­ume of essays chal­lenges stu­dents and pro­fes­sion­als alike to explore the ways in which his­tor­i­cal facts are pre­sent­ed, and to under­stand by what meth­ods jour­nal­is­tic and legal proofs sup­port their truth. Essay­ists move away from the Holo­caust itself to chal­lenge the under­ly­ing racism beneath it, dis­cussing the dif­fer­ent ways in which his­tor­i­cal truths can become restruc­tured and refut­ed over time and the meth­ods used to sup­port them. 

The writ­ing is some­times somber, often col­or­ful and always clear and cogent, and read­ers will come away with a deep­er under­stand­ing of the threat that faces those of us who need a clear answer as to what exact­ly hap­pened to the Jews in 20th cen­tu­ry Europe.

Exten­sive foot­notes, a thor­ough list­ing of the con­trib­u­tors’ cre­den­tials, and a detailed index help read­ers find their way around and through this slim but sig­nif­i­cant volume. 

Lin­da F. Burghardt is a New York-based jour­nal­ist and author who has con­tributed com­men­tary, break­ing news, and fea­tures to major news­pa­pers across the U.S., in addi­tion to hav­ing three non-fic­tion books pub­lished. She writes fre­quent­ly on Jew­ish top­ics and is now serv­ing as Schol­ar-in-Res­i­dence at the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al & Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau County.

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