Is Russel Beatie The New Douglas S. Freeman?
There is an interesting thread over at the Civil War Forum about Russel Beatie’s latest volume in his multi-volume study of the Army of the Potomac. The thread starts with a post by historian Jim Morgan who offers his own critique of McClellan Takes Command: Sept 1861 – Feb 1862, which is vol. 2 in the series. Volumes 1 and 2 were published by Da Capo while the next volume is slated for release by Savas-Beatie. I think that is correct. Scroll down to post 14 of 18 to read historian John Hennessy’s very critical review of volume 1. While Morgan points out multiple factual errors Hennessy notes both specific factual mistakes as well as more significant interpretive and historiographical problems. In short, it looks like this series is a disaster. I have no plans to read these books since I stay away from books published by Da Capo (unless they are those excellent reprints) as well as other small independent presses. Of course there are specific titles that must be worth reading, but I don’t have the time or energy to sift through it all.
Sounds like a number of people will be looking to see what Savas-Beatie does with volume 3. Given Hennessy’s review of volume 1 and Morgan’s review of volume 2 it is difficult to imagine any significant changes in the works. The publisher can at least correct the grammatical and factual errors if indeed they utilize a sufficiently strong peer review process. Oh, and by the way, David Woodbury confirmed that the Beatie in Savas-Beatie is none other than Russel Beatie.
As far as I can tell the standard by which multi-volume works must be compared with is Gordon Rhea’s Overland Campaign study.