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A Study in the Contingency of Journalism: Arendt's 'Eichmann' Typescript at Tablet

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Jonathan Taylor writes:

Tablet has some fascinating samples of the typescript of Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, marked up with New Yorker editor William Shawn's editing changes. Allison Hoffman explains, "the text that most people have in mind when they talk about Arendt's report is not, in fact, the one that appeared in the magazine." Shawn's

major cuts and alterations to Arendt's original are striking in their consistency: Almost all of them involve Arendt's asides about the contemporary Jewish community and its handling of the trial. Many of the most controversial passages made it into the magazine intact, including her assertion that "if the Jewish people had really been unorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between five and six million people." But the final magazine text is in some ways less provocative, more streamlined, and--unsurprisingly, given the precision of The New Yorker's legendary copy editor Eleanor Gould--more polished than what's in the book.

Above all, the manuscript pages, and Hoffman's backgrounder, give a great sense of the contingency of these things. As Hoffman notes, Arendt wrote her report for The New Yorker because Commentary couldn't afford to send her to the trial, and "one can only imagine that the final product would have been quite different had Arendt been writing for" Norman Podhoretz.

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