[KS] Re-revised posting "Revoking a Recommendation"

Ruediger Frank ruediger.frank at univie.ac.at
Fri Sep 16 08:21:23 EDT 2016

Dear Don and all,
I am friends with Balasz, Brian and Charles, I respect their work, and I have learned a lot from each of them. I am also not a historian despite my little excursion into East German archives (SED and Bauhaus) 22 years ago when I worked on the Hamh├╣ng project 1954-1962. For these reasons, personal and professional, I cowardly refrain from commenting on the present case.
But I really cannot remain silent when I read the sentence "I wouldn't trust Brian Myers to evaluate someone else's scholarship". 
I have known Brian since 1994, and followed his work ever since. He can be harsh in his judgement and interpretation; you may call this a lack of social competence, self-destructive honesty or devotion to academic purity. But I never had the impression that he is not painstakingly correct, if not obsessed, when it comes to facts and details. To me, Brian is one of the very few scholars I know whom I would call truly exceptional, and this is not just for his impressive command of various languages. I admit that meeting such people is painful at times because it shows me how average my own scholarship is, although I might be the better diplomat. But while I know that Brian can be very passionate (some will call it rude), I would never dare not paying attention to an academic argument he makes or to discard it as negligible. 
I think it's ok to challenge his points, one by one; it is definitely not ok to grossly question his personal integrity.
Best regards,

PS: Brian has for many years been particularly upset about an alleged lack of language proficiency. I don't think he's always correct with such assertions, and I think he sometimes overstates that issue, but in principle I do share his concern. Among the lastest disturbing examples was Western reporting on the 7th Party Congress, which was, at least that's how it seemed to me, almost entirely based on the 3-page English summary of a 30-page speech published simultaneously in Korean. See http://apjjf.org/2016/14/Frank.html 

New Book: Nordkorea: Innenansichten eines totalen Staates,432 pp.
see http://www.amazon.de/Nordkorea-Innenansichten-eines-totalen-Staates/dp/3421046417
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Rudiger Frank
Head of Department
Professor of East Asian Economy and Society
University of Vienna
Department of East Asian Studies
Spitalgasse 2 Hof 2.3
1090 Vienna
- Austria -

phone:  +43-1-4277 43871
fax:    +43-1-4277 43849
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email: ruediger.frank@univie.ac.at

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