Is it just me or does anyone else find it bizarre that Dimitri Rotov would question why a historiographical overview of Lincoln scholar Phil Paludan’s contributions cannot be found in eulogies published in non-academic settings?

14 comments add yours

  1. Kevin –
    That’s exactly what I thought. And yet I can’t say I’m completely surprised. This is the same person who found something to criticize in the news story he posted regarding a young girl’s interest in the ACW. (See his earlier posting.) In his constant denigration of “popular” history, however he defines it, I find something very elitist and condescending.

  2. I was talking to a NPS historian when that story came out and he basically said that Dimitri had completely missed the target with his comments.

  3. Kevin:

    Thanks for this one. I too was flabbergasted. I know what Dimitri thinks about Lincoln, “the Lincoln community,” and anyone even remotely associated with Springfield and its new Lincoln Library. But surely there are better ways to make a point than to parse Tom Schwartz’s heartfelt words about his friend and fellow Bob Johannsen student. And I say that as another Bob Johannsen student. Both Tom and Phil deserve better.

    If one wants scholarly assessments of Paludan’s work, those already exist anyway. I myself have written a couple of times about how Paludan’s book “Victims” was a seminal–yes, seminal–work that inaugurated the “revisionist” re-evaluation of the Appalachian Civil War home front. And who would discuss modern studies of the Northern home front without starting with Paludan’s “A People’s Contest,” another–yes, seminal–work?

    When I die, hopefully a few decades from now, I hope my eulogies say more about my good qualities than about how I needed more maps in my Perryville book.


  4. He also took a pop-shot at Brian Dirck. Dimitri’s comments would have us believe that he is actually familiar with Paludan’s work and I don’t buy it for a minute. I would say pretty much the same goes for his silly comments about McPherson’s scholarship.

  5. There’s much wisdom in Ken’s post when he says “When I die, hopefully a few decades from now, I hope my eulogies say more about my good qualities than about how I needed more maps in my Perryville book.”

    I think ALL of us (in any field) should be more concerned with what we do ‘outside’ of our ‘work’ than what we accomplish ‘in’ it. If we do a good ‘job’ when it comes to life’s priorities, there shouldn’t be any room left over in our eulogies for our work. It shouldn’t even merit a mention over the things in life we did that REALLY mattered.

    This gentleman obviously left behind a nice legacy and his accomplishments as a historian are second to his accomplishments as a person. (I like to think that Dimitri didn’t mean to insult that.)

  6. I agree with you Michael. It’s just D’s way of making it seem as if he has some idea as to what historians do or should do.

  7. I too, was shocked. And I’ve come to expect the unexpected from Dimitri. His comments were unjustified and inappropriate, and hopefully he will come to realize it.

  8. I noticed his retraction. It is unusual that he assumes a position of oversight over people who have dedicated their lives to serious scholarship. All I can find as a justification is that he claims not to be connected to any publisher, school or organization as if that matters one bit.

  9. Tom Schwartz’s comments about a longtime friend were equally “heartfelt,” yet no retraction was forthcoming there. Apparently, if I read the “mea culpa” correctly, the real difference is that blogged comments should be subjected to lesser scrutiny than comments obviously made on the fly to a reporter. That’s a position that, if you think about it, turns like a mobius strip into a fascinating defense of the original post.

  10. You are absolutely right Ken. It’s a cheap way for Dimitri to convince his readers that he has some understanding of Paludan’s significance. I am willing to bet that he hasn’t read anything of his.

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