Prof. Figes – Why?

Academics are supposed to be bright people, but sometimes they do seemingly silly or inexplicable things. There were allegations circulating in the academic and literary worlds that an Amazon reviewer named orlando-birkbeck or Historian, who was praising books written by Prof. Figes and being dismissive about others’ works was none other than Prof. Figes himself. In a strange sequence of events, Prof. Figes’ wife first claimed that she had written them, but now Prof. Figes has admitted to writing the reviews himself.

When I read this story in the LRB blog, I was rather sceptical about Prof. Figes doing such a thing. Why would he? User name would be easily linked to Prof. Figes. After all, his first name is Orlando and he holds a post at Birkbeck College, London. Perhaps the user name was double-bluff: no one would think he’d use such an obvious pseudonym.

It seems that he has written the reviews in a fit of absent-mindedness. However, after some rumblings were heard, Prof. Figes seems to have been very intent on waving a big legal stick to beat those who had voiced doubts. Threatening to use the legal stick doesn’t really reflect well on Prof. Figes. So why did he do it? Mind boggles.

London Review Blog: Whose Reviews?

The Times: The TLS, Orlando Figes and the law

Dail Mail: Amazon row don admits: ‘It was me’ (I don’t read the Mail normally, honest)