Historian’s distress over shelved book

Robert Wistrich (right) with Dominic Lawson and Howard Jacobson at the LJCC (Photo: Simon Waxman)

Robert Wistrich (right) with Dominic Lawson and Howard Jacobson at the LJCC (Photo: Simon Waxman)

An award-winning expert on antisemitism this week condemned a publisher’s “deplorable” decision not to release his book in the UK in the face of a threat of libel action from Holocaust denier David Irving.

Professor Robert Wistrich, of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, revealed his frustration during a debate at the London Jewish Cultural Centre on Monday.

He said Random House New York decided to withhold his 2010 book A Lethal Obsession: Anti-Semitism from Antiquity to the Global Jihad, after “Irving threatened to sue the publishers if a single copy was sold in the UK”.

In the book Prof Wistrich devotes two pages to Mr Irving’s career as a denier, and includes details of his failed libel suit against historian Deborah Lipstadt and Penguin Books.

“Random House looked at it from a business angle, and decided that it wasn’t worth the trouble,” Prof Wistich said.

“It’s astonishing that they didn’t call his bluff — it’s not anything that hasn’t been printed before.

“Irving is a footnote in the history of antisemitism. I offered to take the pages out, but they just weren’t prepared to go through the hassle. It’s very distressing to say the least.”

Random House did not respond to requests for comment.

Last updated: 3:49pm, March 7 2014