October 06, 2013

New York Times book reviewers mangle history

And, it's well-known reviewers, too.

In his review of a book about Nixon and Kissinger essentially supporting genocide in East Pakistan during the 1971 civil war that led to the independence of Bangladesh, Dexter Filkins claimed the British forced the Muslim-Hindu partition of the Indian Raj.

Wrong. It was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Wow, what a basic error. I mean, that's just basic.

In his review of a book about the year 1945 and the end of World War II, Adam Hochschild implicitly repeats the old canard of the "punitive" Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I, namely its indemnity on Germany.

Allowing for differences in population and 50 years of inflation, Prussia actually imposed a harsher financial indemnity on France in 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War than the Allies did on Germany in 1919. And France paid it off in advance.

Another basic error. This one made by many a historian in previous generations, though the truth is getting written more and more often recently.

Sigh.

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