Friday, September 27, 2013

Smackdown: Denby vs Urwand, and maybe Harvard

In the New Yorker, film critic David Denby recently reviewed some histories of Hollywood's treatment of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. He's pretty hard on Ben Urwand, whose book title "The Collaboration" pretty much summarizes Urwand's view of the relationship. As Denby puts it:
Urwand ... does much more than charge the bosses with cowardice (an accusation with which I agree); he has them actively working for the Nazis. On June 25th, Urwand told the [New York] Times that, in the thirties, “Hollywood is not just collaborating with Nazi Germany, it’s also collaborating with Adolf Hitler, the person and human being.” It’s an extraordinary and damning claim, if true. But Urwand offers no evidence of this personal connection
That's the money quote in History News Network's coverage of the Denby review. But much of HNN's interest seems related to the fact that Urwand has a Harvard fellowship and Harvard published the book.

Denby does express surprise that Harvard University Press would have published a book he finds so dubious. He is pretty hard on Urwand. But it seemed like a fairly routine reviewing smackdown, considering what Denby sometimes says about the movies he covers.

Is the New Yorker allowed to criticize Harvard history?, seems to be the undertone of the HNN coverage.

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