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April 19, 2010

Even academics pollute Amazon reviews (updated)

[Oops. Turns out that Orlando Figes himself was the poison pen reviewer, and that he simply compounded his dishonesty by blaming his wife. That's got to put a bit of strain on the home life.]

That people use pseudonyms to write not-arm's-length book reviews on Amazon is no longer news.

But I couldn't resist pointing out this new case, if nothing else as an especially fun example to use in teaching. Dr. Stephanie Palmer, a senior law (!) lecturer at Cambridge University (UK), was outed by her husband, Prof. Orlando Figes, for writing reviews under a pseudonym that savaged the works of his rivals, while also writing a review of a book by her husband that it was a "beautiful and necessary" account, written by an author with "superb story-telling skills." Story-telling, indeed.

A closing comment by the editor of the Times Literary Service, which broke the story: "What is new and is regrettable is when historians use the law to stifle debate and to put something in the paper which is untrue....[Figes's] whole business is replacing a mountain of lies with a few truths".

Via The Guardian.

Posted by jmm at April 19, 2010 11:13 PM

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