Friday, June 13, 2008

Adam Kirsch looks at the 'subtleties' of Pat Buchanan's historical scholarship:
Mr. Buchanan's total reliance on the work of historians — there is no sign in this book that has opened a scholarly journal or delved into an archive — makes it a bit rich for him to claim that he is out to overturn some historians' consensus or conspiracy. "Historians today," he writes, "see in Hitler's actions [during the 1930s] a series of preconceived and brilliant moves on the chessboard of Europe, reflecting the grand strategy of an evil genius unfolding step by step ... This is mythology." The only mythology here is the existence of such naive "historians," none of whom Mr. Buchanan actually names. In fact, almost all of Mr. Buchanan's contentions have long pedigrees. When he writes that the Treaty of "Versailles had created not only an unjust but unsustainable peace," he is echoing what John Maynard Keynes wrote in the very year of the treaty, and what is now as close to a commonplace as history can show.
Well, this is an eye opener!

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