Yesterday we noted some of the commentary on the revisionist account of World War II by novelist Nicholson Baker in his new book Human Smoke. Baker draws an equivalence between the German and Allied sides in the war in which he derogates the leadership of Churchill and Roosevelt. In a letter to the editor of the New York Sun Baker denies that he draws such an equivalence. Rather, according to Baker, he is merely injecting “some balm of moderating wisdom and instruction” on the subject of the war.
Our friends at Commentary draw our attention to the review of Baker’s book by David Pryce-Jones in the March issue of the magazine. Among other distinguished books, Pryce-Jones is the author of Paris in the Third Reich: A History of the German Occupation, 1940-44. Pryce-Jones finds Baker guilty of drawing the equivalence he denies:
By treating history as though he were writing a novel, Baker is able to dispense with context and select solely whatever material he can find to substantiate his one predetermined conclusion: that the Allies were as bad as the Axis, and civilization was the loser. By this method, self-defense can be made to appear the same as attack, the resolve to fight one