Friday 27 June 2008

Rewriting history

Further to my post about revisionist histories of WW2: Michael Weiss writes on the same topic here, linking to Geoffrey Wheatcroft's NYRB review of a couple of books about Churchill, Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke and Pat Buchanan's attempt to rewrite the history of the last 60 years. Weiss is more tolerant of Baker's pacifism than of Buchanan's paleocon revisionism:

Nicholson Baker is a pacifist and therefore believes war is never justified. His principles have made his tract tone-deaf, voulu, and slightly creepy - but also, in its way, harmless. Even the untutored student of World War II can decide for himself, according to the in situ examples he provides, just how much there really was to choose between Hitler and Churchill. [...]

But Buchanan's cards are all showing, and they have been for years. He's made it his life's work to undo the established wisdom of the climactic event of the twentieth century and to offer this 'alternative' history of the hot war against totalitarianism from the perspective of the lonely little America Firster who has been as hounded and excluded from the great debate as Germany was at Versailles in 1919. He'll find he's still got his work cut out for him. Some things are true and right even if every schoolboy has been taught to believe they are, and history to the defeated revisionists may say alas, but cannot help or pardon.

Buchanan's self-reinvention as the cuddly token conservative on MSNBC chat shows makes it easy to forget the extent of his reactionary isolationism.

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