History as bunk

Matthew Dodd ("The new rock'n'roll", 10 December) quotes E H Carr: "The facts are available to the historian . . . like fish on the fishmonger's slab. The historian collects them, takes them home, and cooks and serves them in whatever style appeals to him." This is pernicious nonsense. It denigrates the vital task of research, without which there would be no "facts", and gives comfort to every Nazi apologist or femi-nist agitator passing off propaganda as "history". Carr wrote sneeringly of a "fetishism of documents", showing no understanding of the immense variety of primary sources.

Unbelievable as it seems now, he actually used What is History? to express support for Soviet control and manipulation of human minds and the environment. In praising this Cambridge snob and Marxist hack, Dodd is talking through a hole in his left sock.

Arthur Marwick
London NW3

This article first appeared in the 17 December 2001 issue of the New Statesman, The ignorance of the Islamophobes