Not to be Trifled With

A public spat between a historian and a writer shows why some subject matter deserves special reverence, says Tim Stanley.

A contemporary British satire of the Nazi Soviet Pact, August 1939

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’.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.