In 1993 I received a two-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Canterbury, comprising a supervised one-year research thesis (written twenty-one years ago in 1991) and four classroom-taught papers (1992). I received a grade of "A+" for the thesis and four grades of "A" for the papers.
I have naturally regretted for the last twenty-one years that my 1991 thesis on the historiography of Holocaust revisionism — my first ever attempt at sustained research — was an imperfect piece of research. Straight out of a three-year bachelor degree I found myself overwhelmed by sources, confused by some highly complex arguments, very manipulated by some people I contacted, and not yet mature and wise in my thinking or skilled at the historian's craft. Yet I researched and wrote in good faith, trying hard not only to excel but also scrupulously to follow the guidance and advice of my well-published professor, with whom I had weekly supervision meetings.
My fledgling research made statements and expressed arguments that were not universally strong. Some were very poor. I wish I had been better prepared at the time to deal with my very complex topic. I regret that I mistakenly wrote erroneous things and that no supervisors or examiners stopped me from doing so or at least pointed out the grave weaknesses of interpretation.
Even worse, I hated occasionally observing online that a few revisionists and Holocaust deniers — many of whom clearly adore the Nazis, whom I despise — alleged that my far more mature, informed and accurate historical assessments about the Holocaust in the years after 1993 had been coerced by Jews. Their accusations were both silly and anti-Semitic. Thankfully, they don’t waste words on me anymore. Twenty-one years is a long time.
I have learned a lot throughout the intervening decades, both about the historian's craft and about our need as members of decent and forgiving societies to make amends for our youthful mistakes and lack of wisdom. I am at least pleased that, as well as publishing a number of well-received books and many articles on different topics (military operational art, leadership, ethics and religion), I have been able to devote my academic career to something honourable, positive and beneficial: the development and intellectual enrichment of decent young men and women who will serve the noble causes of democracy, freedom and peace.
— Joel Hayward March 2012.