“History in a New Millennium” (Reading Blog #13)

“History in a New Millennium” is a chapter in the book From Herodotus to H-Net by Jeremy D. Popkin. The chapter covers the events of the Irving v. Penguin Books Ltd case,  the people involved in the case, and the importance of accepting history as is rather than denying it. The case itself (which the 2016 film Denial is based off) was mainly between Holocaust historians David Irving and Deborah Lipstadt. In her book, Denying the Holocaust: the Growing Assult on Truth and Memory,  Lipstadt names Irving as one of the main Holocaust deniers. In response, Irving sued Lipstadt, claiming that she defamed his name. After introducing the case, Popkin then begins to talk about how historians at the turn of the millennium were drifting toward a middle point between “a sweeping postmodern rejection of the whole notion of historical truth and an indefensible positivist assumption that the facts about the past would speak for themselves”. As I read more and more of this chapter,  I realized that all of this is still true. That those that deny (and continue to deny) the Holocaust are the same as Americans that deny the fact that African slavery was part of American history. Richard J. Evans, who was part of that 2000 trial, said that “objective history is history that is researched and written within the limits placed on the historical imagination by the facts of history and the sources that reveal them”. In the end, the 2000 trial reaffirmed most historians’ conviction that the search for historical truths is too important to abandon, and that we must continue to follow fact.

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