Reading List

I was asked to come up with a book list for The New Ledger along with suggestions from other contributors – this was banged out quickly between shovelfuls of snow this morning, but it’s a cross-section of what I’ve read lately (I’m still reading the Dalin, Amar and Churchill books). The Zubrin book is a true must-read – I’ve been looking in vain for any sort of rebuttal to Zubrin’s thesis about methanol. And the Dalin book is one I wish I’d read years ago, given that the thesis it pushes back at is a much-beloved Known Fact of the anti-Catholic/anti-religious Left.

4 thoughts on “Reading List”

  1. Being the week before Christmas and all, I should let it pass. Alas, the irony is too delicious.
    Crank and the wingnuts are always quick to “call” Dems on “playing the race card,” sometimes there is even a legitmate basis for the criticism (e.g., anything that comes out of the mouth of Sharpton). Yet any criticism of the Catholic Church or, more pointedly, its hierarchy, elicits bleats of “anti-Catholic/anti-religious.”
    As for the Dalin book, I offer this from Franklin Hugh Adler, DeWitt Professor of Political Science, Macalester College:
    “One wonders who is behind this book that purports to be a new scholarly investigation of materials that bear on Pius XII’s behavior during the Holocaust. Despite the misleading publicity and book cover blurbs by would be authorities with no background on the subject, an examination of the footnotes indicate that the author, David Dalin, conducted no archival research whatsoever, nor used primary and secondary sources in languages other than English. Apparently, he cannot read Italian, the language in which most Vatican documents are written, nor has he examined any such documents. Yet he has the chutzpah to attack serious scholars, such as Susan Zuccotti, who he actually accuses of Holocaust denial, Susan Zuccotti, the prize-winning author of separate histories of the Holocaust in Italy and France, a historian whose research derives primarily from archival sources. Dalin’s horrendous scholarship is matched only by strident hallucinations about a conspiracy of left wing scholars intent upon destroying the reputation of Pius XII. The question that should be addressed is why only Catholic intellectuals, conservatives and Jewish neo-cons are pushing this book, not reputable specialists whose ideological orientations
    are remarkably diverse?”

  2. magrooder,
    I yield to no one in my contempt for Pius XII’s behavior during the Holocaust, but that quote is *very* weak. It hits all the left wing prejudices. “ideological orientations are remarkably diverse” while simultaneously lumping together “Catholic intellectuals, conservatives and Jewish neo-cons” (presumably non-Jewish neo-cons don’t push this book?). That is quite a diverse crowd right there. Pro life and neutral on the question, pro-pre-emtive war and against all war. Pro-death penalty, and anti-death penalty. Seems like an ideological diversity to me, just one that a sheltered academic in a mono-ideological sub-culture wouldn’t recognize.
    Add to that that all he has to criticize is that the author doesn’t quote material from the original Italian, ad homonym and guilt by association. He doesn’t dispute one fact or offer one refuting fact. He only says “how dare you criticize someone I like.”
    Apparently that passes for intellectual criticism in academia today.

  3. Magrooder, that review is indeed a classic of the genre of point-missing – he doesn’t dispute any of Dalin’s factual contentions, just tries to pull rank to shut down debate. The “One wonders who is behind this book” is a neat little invocation of conspiracy theory without explicitly laying one out.
    It should be noted that Dalin’s arguments rely only in small part on disagreements over the meaning of source documents cited by the revisionists. (I should note that Dalin’s disagreements with Zucotti come where he cites evidence for things she says did not happen because she did not see evidence of them – he cites her work favorably on a number of points and doesn’t spend much time disputing her on things she supports with evidence). The bulk of his arguments rely on documents and first-person testimony the revisionists have pointedly ignored, as well as on historical perspective on subjects like the role of papal concordats and the disastrous history of papal excommuncations of hostile heads of state.
    I should post on this at more length another day…Pius XII was publicly regarded when alive – by everyone from the Israelis to the Nazis – as a critic of Nazism in general and Nazi anti-Semitic policies in particular, from his days as papal representative in Germany through his time as Pope. Dalin cites a broad array of sources to support this point. The burden of proof is on the revisionists – all of whom seem to share the same political point of view – who started authoring a different narrative after his death.
    The Church indisputably saved many tens if not hundreds of thousands of Jews during the Holocaust through highly organized underground efforts, notably in Italy, Hungary and France. These included scores of Jews secreted in the Pope’s personal summer residence and other Vatican-controlled sites under the personal purview of the Pope. Dalin cites a number of the leading figures in these efforts, people who put their lives on the line to save Jews from the death camps, who uniformly testified then and later that they did so on direct orders from the Pope. The conspiracy theorists are the ones arguing that all of these people got together and made up a lie to deflect credit away from themselves for their heroic efforts.
    Naturally, one can question whether the Pope, or Roosevelt or Churchill or many others in the West, could and should have done more, and those remain fair arguments. But to suggest that the Church was somehow more morally complicit in the Holocaust than most is to stand the evidence on its head.

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