Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Jonah do history bad

-- by Dave

My review of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is now up at The American Prospect:
The public understanding of World War II history and its precedents has suffered in recent years from the depredations of revisionist historians -- the David Irvings and David Bowmans of the field who have attempted to recast the meaning of, respectively, the Holocaust and the Japanese American internment. Their reach, however, has been somewhat limited to fringe audiences.

It might be tempting to throw Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left from Mussolini to the Politics of Meaning into those same cloacal backwaters, but there is an essential difference that goes well beyond the likely much broader reach of Goldberg's book, which was inexplicably published by a mainstream house (Doubleday). Most revisionists are actually historians with some credentials, and their theses often hinge on nuances and the interpretation of details.

Goldberg, who has no credentials beyond the right-wing nepotism that has enabled his career as a pundit, has drawn a kind of history in absurdly broad and comically wrongheaded strokes. It is not just history done badly, or mere revisionism. It’s a caricature of reality, like something from a comic-book alternative universe: Bizarro history.

I collected a lot of material that couldn't possibly fit into a review in the course of surveying the book. I'll be posting some of these over the next few days.

No comments: