World War II Revisionism in the 21st Century

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Mark Kurlansky at the LA Times gives a very favorable review to Nicholson Baker’s new book, Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II: The End of Civilization, which Kurlansky describes as “a meticulously researched and well-constructed book demonstrating that World War II was one of the biggest, most carefully plotted lies in modern history.”

The lede in the review, by the way, is a short mention of John McCain’s attack on Ron Paul, saying Paul’s is the type of “isolationism” that led to World War II. The review dismisses this as an “ancient. . . canard.”

The book reportedly has a pacifist thrust, but is filled with lots of “powerful” facts, demonstrating Allied leaders like Roosevelt and Churchill were pro-fascist anti-Semites whose war was one of nationalism and economic interest, not the humanitarian leaders often depicted in high school history books. Churchill was more opposed to communism and, especially, Gandhi’s pacifism, than Nazism all the way through the late ’30s. As for FDR, when he decided he wanted to enter the conflict, he did everything he could to provoke the Japanese to attack.

“People are going to get really angry at Baker for criticizing their favorite war,” writes Kurlansky. Human Smoke “could help the world to understand that there is no Just War, there is just war — and that wars are not caused by isolationists and peaceniks but by the promoters of warfare.”

I find it very encouraging that World War II revisionism is becoming an open topic in our culture. I hope that in the next few decades, it loses its unique status as the one historical war we’re not supposed to scrutinize too closely. This review and book help me in that hope.

1:41 pm on March 8, 2008