Revisionism and the Historical Blackout - Henry Elmer Barnes

An English View of the Historical Blackout

The editor sent copies of his brochures on The Struggle Against the Historical Blackout, The Court Historians versus Revisionism, and Rauch on Roosevelt to one of the most distinguished of English publicists, authors, and military historians, who wrote me the following letter relative to the historical blackout in general and in England in particular. Being aware of the retaliation which might be meted out to him in the American scholarly and book world, I am withholding his name, but it is one that is internationally known and respected:

"Thank you for your very kind letter and the pamphlets, which I have read with enthusiastic interest. I love your phrases: "The Court Historians" and "the Blackout Boys." How delightfully descriptive! But what a revelation these last seven years have been of the strength and power of both these classes of people and their myriad supporters in the Press and among the people.

"To you and me, who lived in the mentally-free world of pre-1914, the determined rush of the historical Gadarenes into the sea of falsehood and distortion has been an astounding phenomenon. Which of us would have believed, in that first decade of the century, that the values which then seemed so firmly established in the historical profession could disappear so easily and rapidly, leaving only a tiny company of unheeded and derided protestors to lament their loss? And I must admit that the protestors in the U.S.A. are more numerous and courageous than they are in this blessed land of freedom which used to make such a fuss about its Magna Carta, the execution of Charles I, and other so-called landmarks in dealing with tyranny.

"Here we are, a nation of 50,000,000. Our official historian has just published his first book on the Norwegian campaign which shows, with official authority, that we were planning exactly the same aggression against Norway as the Germans, for which later the wretched Admiral Raeder was given a life sentence. But not one voice has been raised in England to say that, now that it is known that we were just as bad as he was, he might be let out. And I know that, if I wrote to the Times, it would not go in. I will not deny that there are a few Beards, Chamberlins, Tansills and Barnes over here. But they do not find publishers here as they do with you, for which I give yours full marks. In this blessed sceptical isle and ancient land of the free. Revisionism is gagged. You must keep yours going at all costs or the darkness descends."

My correspondent's impressions need correction in one respect: apparently he imagines that American publishers are more hospitable toward revisionist books than the English. He does not realize that, aside from Dr. Beard's books, all the revisionist volumes thus far published in the United States have been brought out by two small publishers. No large commercial publisher has brought out a revisionist volume since Pearl Harbor.