Monday, June 01, 2009

A Modest Reviewer - is this a first?

Reviewing D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor in the Sunday Times, Max Hastings pays the author the following tribute:

“I find it galling that he has contrived to write a book that resurrects virtually no scrap of material that I used in a book of my own about the Normandy campaign 25 years ago. Instead, he has assembled a mass of unfamiliar sources, fresh voices and untold anecdotes to create a saga as impressive as his earlier narratives of Stalingrad and the battle for Berlin. He makes my version, and those of many other historians, seem old hat.”

Hastings is an author, historian and former journalist. I couldn’t help contrast the generosity of his review with the acrimony we’ve seen in the letters page of the Irish Times where Messrs Ferriter, Coogan and Jordan have slugged it out over their biographies of Dev and WT Cosgrave.

Wouldn’t it be an interesting exercise for the Irish Times to get each man to review the relevant books written by the other parties. Would any of the reviews approach the Hastings review in generosity of spirit? I suspect (ok, hope) that it would result in a fantastic bitching-fest, but one well disguised in polished academic-speak, but no less poisonous for all that.

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