Novelist Nicholson Baker, famous for navel-gazing and footnotes, admits that he knew almost nothing about World War II before he wrote Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, The End of Civilization. 576 pages later, it appears Baker learned nothing along the way.
Mr. Baker's book is designed to convince the reader that America should not have fought Germany or Japan; that Franklin Roosevelt connived to get us into the war at the behest of the arms manufacturers, and probably knew about the bombing of Pearl Harbor in advance; that Winston Churchill was a bloodthirsty buffoon and a protofascist; that in Japan's invasion of China, China was the aggressor; that after the fall of France, Churchill was culpable in vowing to fight on, and not acceding to Hitler's "peace" terms; that the Holocaust was, at least in part, Hitler's response to British aggression, and that the only people who demonstrated true wisdom in the run-up to the war were American and British pacifists, who refused to take up arms no matter how pressing the need.
In a less progressive world, Baker would be prosecuted for writing this. In a better world, Baker would now be as welcome at the better sorts of universities and parties as David Irving.