Trouble for David Eicher or Sympathy For James McPherson
[Hat-Tip to Fred Ray at ACW Gaming and Reading]
Looks like David Eicher is being accused by William Frassanito of sloppy research and unethical research practices in his 2001 Gettysburg pictorial study. The Amazon reviews are anything but encouraging. Frassanito himself has cited numerous examples of photographs that were misidentified or taken from his own well-regarded pictorial before and after studies of Civil War battlefields. From Frassanito’s lengthy critique:
Although quality-control issues likewise abound in Mr. Eicher’s book, such as
the presence of a surprising number of blurry historical photos and the
reproduction of numerous photos in an almost postage-stamp-sized format, etc.,
etc., it is the manner in which his historical photo presentation was put
together that should be of alarming concern to all serious students of the Civil
War. Certainly the unacknowledged, systematic, and wholesale duplication of
someone else’s original work, and the portrayal of that work as if original to
the duplicator; the clandestine acquisition of photographs from copyrighted
publications; and the deceptive manipulation of photo credits, are all
disreputable practices that should be condemned.
James McPherson, who wrote the Foreward to Eicher’s book has decided to disassociate himself from the project.
Eicher’s reproduction of photographs from William Frassanito’s books and about the accuracy of some of the maps and captions in Eicher’s book to convince me that my praise of the book in the Foreward is not entirely merited.
McPherson goes on to urge the publisher to remove his name from any additional printings that may be planned for publication in the future. While I have a great deal of respect for McPherson’s scholarship I do find it difficult to sympathize with him here. McPherson’s endorsements appear on way too many books to believe that he has actually spent sufficient time reviewing for quality control. Perhaps this will cause McPherson to be a bit more conservative with the number of projects that he publicly endorses.