Tim Stanley: Hitler is Not to be Trifled With

Roundup: Talking About History

Tim Stanley is associate fellow of the Rothermere American Institute, Oxford University.


There is a war of words being waged between historian Richard Evans and writer A.N. Wilson. Evans, Regius Professor of Modern History at Cambridge, dislikes Wilson’s latest book,Hitler: A Short Biography. He complains that Wilson relies exclusively on English language sources and that the book brings nothing new to the subject except purple prose and trite psychology. Evans opines that, while he accepts non-academic writers have brought fresh insight into the dictator’s life, he can find ‘no evidence of that here, neither in the stale, unoriginal material, nor in the banal and cliché-ridden historical judgements, nor in the lame, tired narrative style; just evidence of the repellent arrogance of a man who thinks that because he is a celebrated novelist, he can write a book about Hitler that people should read’.

Wilson does concede that his book contains ‘a few howlers’ of a factual nature, but insists that Evans’ ‘spiteful review’ was unjustified. In an open letter of reply Wilson concludes: ‘All is joy. The war is over. Hitler is dead. Get a life, poor Evans. There is no need to be so cross.’...

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