An Apparent Bias Against Civil War Campaign Studies at the JAH
Today I had a very pleasant lunch with a friend and fellow Civil War historian here in C-Ville. Among the topics we talked about was an apparent decision on the part of the editors at the Journal of American History to no longer publish reviews of Civil War campaigns. I thought this was unusual so when I arrived home I went through the last four issues and lo and behold there is not one review of a Civil War campaign. In all fairness there are plenty of Civil War related studies, but nothing that would count as a battle history. The decision must be fairly recent since I was able to find a review of James L. McDonough’s Nashville: The Western Confederacy’s Final Gamble in the December 2005 issue. I don’t know of any other area that is subject to such a sweeping condemnation. Without any written explanation it is impossible to state their rationale with any precision. That said, it is easy to speculate that this probably has something to do with a bias against Civil War military historians. Perhaps the editors have been flooded with the overwhelming number of books from within this particular genre and decided that it was too much trouble to wade through for specific titles that were worth reviewing.
This is unfortunate as there are a number of first-rate campaign studies that merit serious review in any scholarly journal focused on American history. George Rable’s Fredericksburg! Fredericksburg! and Ken Noe’s Perryville have both been reviewed in the JAH which makes this decision all the more difficult to understand. The Society of Civil War HIstorians ought to write up a petition in protest. If I come across additional information I will be sure to pass it on.