View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's February 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's February 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
People often glibly assume because a book is well researched that it is "accurate". Military historians have a VERY STRONG sense of the real and the practical. Facts may be uninvented because of new sources or reevaluated because of new interpretations. But, the basic outlines of how a Sherman or Panther tank operated are pretty straight forward. new nuances are always gathered but we tend to have a shared understanding about many of the basic technical and operational uses of these systems. Yet, new work can stimulate us and make us look afresh. The problems and fights are always due to the historiographical assumptions. Few would argue that Longstreet did not have an important role in Army of Northern Virginia but how long has history writing been effected by the Lost cause debates that cheered on by folks like Jubal Early that demonized his actual role in the war. IMHO, Irving's works on military history cannot be viewed "neutrally". Sure, a weapons system performs in certain ways and that is true. But how much of accepting Irving is related to wider issues that we have tackled in recent years more directly in the United States such as the entire issue of how the German role and portrayal of their experiences in the war were completely shaped for decades by the Cold War and the need to blame Hitler for everything. The points made in The Myth of the Eastern Front: The Nazi-Soviet War in American Popular Culture shape a discussion on Irving and his reception. Wette's opinions in The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality are important to throw in the mix. When Irving deliberately plays games with the order on Novemeber 30th,1941 by Himmler not to eliminate the "Jewish transport from Berlin" and generalizes to a point of Hitler's ignorance of the Holocaust this is where defense of him as a MILITARY historian becomes absurd. What about his other work? Has that received the same attention? I liked his history of Rommel when it came out but subsequent work has forced us to look differently at Rommel. This includes Fraser's biography but he more recent work by Ralf Georg Reuth, Rommel: The End of a Legend, is intriguing. I reviewed for Kirkus his book ,The Battle of the Generals, when it came out and got into a fight with the editor. To me, it had nothing really interesting to say except it over emphasized the Allied bickering at the time. Would that have collapsed their desire to defeat Germany? I doubt it. But, I think a rush to defend Irving( and yes, I think students quoting him should not be a court martial offense, but rather a moment to help people critically think about the veracity of "sources") speaks more to the general mood of our societal reception of the war through all its phases up tothe present. Irving is a unabashed apologist and activist in pushing forth a agenda to clean up the Third Reich's image. His use of Harry Elmer Barnes, David Hoggan, and Frederick J.P. Veale as sources in his works should at least trigger off alarm bells as to where he is coming from as to his "philosphy of history". that is why I find a defense of him a little puzzling. Is his philospohy of history that separated from his interpretation of military history...Is not military history at any time also subject to the winds and arrows of it being a reflection of the times we live in , not above the fray as some would say. I think this is an important issue to politely talk out. One piece of information..I understand that Irving was in the U.S for a while if not here no0w, staying in Key West. He will give talks around the country for thge price of admission, you have to pay to get in. I know about this because a friend mentioned he was in the NYC area and was speaking in NJ and asked me if I wanted to check him out. I thought about it and passed. jim jim Dingeman <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----