The strange case of Orlando Figes and the Amazon sock-puppet

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klr
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The strange case of Orlando Figes and the Amazon sock-puppet

Post by klr » Mon May 10, 2010 10:44 am

This is as about as bizarre as it gets in the world of academia. A leading historian tries to trash his rivals by posting anonymous comments on Amazon - and then tries to blame them on his wife before 'fessing up:
Historian Orlando Figes admits posting Amazon reviews that trashed rivals

Professor 'apologises wholeheartedly to all concerned' as he retracts denials and legal threats

Historian Orlando Figes admits posting Amazon reviews that trashed rivals

Professor 'apologises wholeheartedly to all concerned' as he retracts denials and legal threats

The future of one of Britain's leading historians was looking increasingly uncertain tonight after he admitted that he was the author of anonymous reviews that praised his own work as "fascinating" and "uplifting" while rubbishing that of his rivals.

In a row that has scandalised the academic world Orlando Figes, one of the stars of contemporary history, had issued a string of legal threats to academic colleagues, literary journals and newspapers that suggested he might have written the reviews posted on Amazon.co.uk.

When challenged about the reviews, Figes's lawyer initially denied Figes was the author and threatened legal action. In a later statement, Figes blamed them on his wife, the barrister Stephanie Palmer.

But today Figes, a professor of history at Birkbeck, University of London, admitted "full responsibility" for the posts, saying he had been under "intense pressure". He added: "I have made some foolish errors and apologise wholeheartedly to all concerned."

Rival historian Robert Service, whose work on the history of communism Figes described as "awful" in the Amazon posts, said he and his wife had been through hell. "I am pleased and mightily relieved that this contaminant slime has been exposed to the light and begun to be scrubbed clean," said Service, who is professor of Russian history at St Antony's College Oxford. "I have been made acutely aware that a solitary malpractitioner, if he has an abundance of money and malice, can intimidate all and sundry – and that includes both scholars and journalists."

...
Continued here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/ap ... ews-rivals

I have a number of books by Figes, and by Robert Service, who was the chief target of his poison pen keyboard. Service's reaction is here:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree ... -admission
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Re: The strange case of Orlando Figes and the Amazon sock-pu

Post by Trolldor » Mon May 10, 2010 10:47 am

What law did he, exactly, break?

He also seems to be behaving exactly like an academic.
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Re: The strange case of Orlando Figes and the Amazon sock-pu

Post by Bazzer » Mon May 10, 2010 10:50 am

Aye, don't know about this Orlando Bloom fella or Service or whoever, but that Clinton is awful.

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Re: The strange case of Orlando Figes and the Amazon sock-pu

Post by klr » Mon May 10, 2010 11:03 am

born-again-atheist wrote:What law did he, exactly, break?

He also seems to be behaving exactly like an academic.
He didn't break any laws of the land that I'm aware of, although accusing him of said action seems to have carried the risk of a libel action. But that's neither here nor there. He engaged in behaviour unbecoming by the standards of his own community. Seriously unbecoming. And plain stupid as well. To judge by his choice of reviewer names, he was completely clueless.

Yes, academics can be petty, and then some - I work in a University :roll:. But they also usually show a degree of common sense, especially when it comes to the media, if they have significant dealings with the public.

An analogy: If Tiger Woods had been caught cheating on the golf course as opposed to cheating on his wife, then he'd be in a world of shit right now, ten times worse (and ten times that) than the mess he's actually in. It's the same with the academic community, or many other groups. There are certain things you just do not do, so beyond the pale are they by the standards of the group.
Bazzer wrote:Aye, don't know about this Orlando Bloom fella or Service or whoever, but that Clinton is awful.
:what:

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