I am looking forward to visiting Gettysburg this summer to join some friends for a battlefield tour. All of us are interested in seeing what the NPS has done with the exhibits in the new visitors center. I’ve read a number of posts from fellow bloggers who are concerned about the book selection in the gift shop. Apparently, the gift shop is catering to the average visitor who has little need to wade through 20 titles on the fighting at the Wheatfield. I sort of understand the disappointment of the veteran Gettysburg dudes who want the visitors center to be both a popular tourist destination and a place where the most obscure studies are made available, but we shouldn’t make too much of this.
My advice is for the NPS to offer whatever the hell sells and generates money. If that means Newt Ginghrich’s alternative history of the battle and Jennie Wade dolls than so be it. The NPS can easily satisfy its mission of educating the public without having to stock its shelves with titles that appeal to a select few. The NPS ought to include some titles that reflect the contours of the campaign and the broader issues of the war – mission accomplished.