Monday, January 23, 2006

The New Statesman and the KGB

Oliver Kamm (via Harry's Place) points out an interesting illustration of the breathtaking intellectual dishonesty of the New Statesman (the British weekly), in the context of a review of John Lewis Gaddis's new book The Cold War:
Gott believes by contrast - erroneously, and with scant evidence, but as is his reviewer's prerogative - that Gaddis's book "is an unashamedly American and triumphalist version of the long US-Soviet quarrel that broke out after the Second World War". He declares, having presumably consulted one or two of the relevant population: "Few British historians would accept it uncritically." And he depicts three schools of thought regarding the Cold War, of which he places himself in the Via Media: "A third group, to which I have long belonged, thought that the entire contest was a huge mistake, totally misconceived and possibly fabricated, both expensive and dangerous."
And here we return to my initial point. Nowhere in the review do you find the slightest hint or allusion - other than his claim that "the much-derided [Berlin] wall brought a measure of stability to the European scene" - that Gott was scarcely a disinterested party remote from the partisans of both camps. He in fact received covert payments from the KGB. When this was revealed in 1994, Gott resigned as Literary Editor of The Guardian and penned an apologia for the newspaper in which he claimed no harm had come from his activities. It was all a bit of a giggle, in fact: "I enjoyed it."
I would expect nothing less of Richard Gott. But I hope the NS editor, John Kampfner, can be persuaded to state explicitly his reasons for omitting this information (which he certainly knows) from his reviewer's byline.

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