Destruction of Dresden
(London: W. Kimber, 1963), caused a sensation by its
accusation that the Anglo-American raids on Dresden in
February 1945 constituted a major war atrocity. Irving's
book, which exaggerated threefold the number of deaths that
actually occurred and made unfounded charges about Allied
actions, has since been refuted. Two of his later books,
Accident: The Death of General Sikorski (London: W.
Kimber, 1967), and The Destruction of Convoy PQ 17
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1969), prompted legal action.
Irving lost both cases and had to pay damages and costs of
about £45,000 in the libel suit on Convoy PQ
first entered the headlines in 1970. In July of that year,
he was forced to apologize in the High Court of London for
"making a wholly untrue and highly damaging statement about
a woman writer." -- not an auspicious start for someone who
claims to be in pursuit of the truth. Later that year,
Irving was back in the headlines, concerning publication of
his book, The Destruction of Convoy PQ17. Ostensibly
an expose of an ill-fated 1942 Arctic convoy headed for the
Soviet Union during World War II, it eventually resulted in
Irving being fined 40,000 British pounds for libel. Irving's
book faulted Captain John Broome, commander of the convoy at
the time, saying he was guilty of "downright disobedience"
and "downright desertion of the
convoy." Broome brought suit against
Irving for false statements, and won a judgment in August of
1970. Irving's lawyers appealed, and lost in March, 1971.
The case is revealing because of what it says about Irving's
abilities as a historian and his motives as an author.
According to The Times of London, Irving showed a
copy of the manuscript to Broome before publication. Broome
objected to the accuracy of some thirty passages in the
book, and threatened to sue for libel if Irving did not make
changes. At that point, William
Kimbers Ltd., Irving's publisher, notified him that they
would not publish the book as it was then written. Later,
Irving published the book with another