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Kevin -

Very true. I purchased the magazine this afternoon and read the interview, and I was amazed at the difference between what I read and what Dimitri would have us believe is there. In fact, the whole interview was much different from the impression I had formed based on what everyone was saying about it. Gallagher’s answers are lengthy and informative. Different than what he might have said before an academic panel? – Probably, but hefty enough for a magazine of popular history.
If Dimitri wants to denigrate the content of Gallagher’s answers by pulling out very brief quotes, or berate him for using “guys” occasionally, then it seems to me that such techniques trivialize Dimitri’s own position – whatever it may be. Half the time I’m convinced he’s talking gibberish himself.
Let this be a plea to everyone who’s read about this whole affair – read the interview in it’s entirety before taking up arms. See quotes in the context of the entire answer – in the context of the entire interview in fact.
“Deep reader” indeed.

Actually, I don’t think it was all that bad an analysis of the give-and-take, although one may disagree with the editorializing.

Seems to me that given Dimitri’s claim to be an authority on Civil War historiography that he would know where to go for the kinds of answers he desires from Gallagher.

I tend to appreciate Dimitri’s perspective on Civil War historiography, and I’ve found that the skepticism he encourages is both healthy and useful. However, I do think in this instance that Dimitri has allowed his passion to mislead him somewhat in his analysis. For example, Dimitri says:

“Asked pointedly by Carmichael, ‘What books in the last 10 years do you think have made some useful contributions to our understanding of the battle?’ He [Gallagher] answers, ‘I think we need a new overview of the campaign.’

“That, of course has nothing to do with the question. He blusters on, ‘Coddington did the last really good one … that was in 1968.’

“One can read GG’s response as saying, in effect, I am unaware of any.”

Here, Dimitri both misquotes and mischaracterizes Gallagher’s response. Gallagher does not, in fact, say, “I think we need a new overview of the campaign.” Instead, he says, “I think we’ve needed a new overview of the campaign.” (Note the present perfect tense that Gallagher actually uses in his response.) Gallagher goes on to mention Coddington in that context and then says that he thinks Sears and Trudeau, both having published campaign overviews within the last 10 years, have met that need. So Gallagher’s response quite clearly is not one that “has nothing to do with the question” nor can it reasonably be read as saying “I am unaware of any.”

“Guys’:

I’m guessing that in retrospect, we’ll all remember “the great Gallagher blog flap” most for elevating Gallagher to the level of McPherson on Dimitri’s blog.

By the way, does he know that Pete Carmichael was Gallagher’s student? Might it be that Pete’s “complexity” and “sophisticated” knowledge of historiographical issues stems at least in part from…his mentor?

Ken

Ken

Great point Ken. I’ve said before that I enjoy Dimitri’s blog. However, whenever he moves beyond pontificating on issues related to George McClellan he tends to fall flat. Many of his comments re: Civil War historiography are so overly simplistic that they are laughable. Perhaps Gallagher is emerging as Dimitri’s new McPherson.

Somehow unmentioned in this whole flap is a wonderful irony: If you to the Amazon.com page for Gary Gallagher’s most recent book (The Shenandoah Valley Campaign of 1864, part of the UNC Press’ Military Campaigns of the Civil War series), look at the “Better Together” entry. This is where Amazon offers you a discount on two books covering similar topics; my understanding is that the publisher of the other suggested book pays for this linkage.

The other suggested book is . . . Pleny of Blame to Go Around.

Bill,

No, the publisher doesn’t pay for that. Amazon links books together by themselves as a marketing tool. They can be based on your previous browsing history, same author, topic, etc. etc.

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