Pelican Press Does It Again

From the dust jacket:

Nathan Bedford Forrest remains a controversial figure in American history. Because of his days as a slave trader and his involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, the Confederate general is equated with racism. However, many may be surprised to know that he spent the latter days of his life as a pious Christian and an outspoken advocate of African Americans. This spiritual biography follows Forrest on his journey to salvation, focusing on the lesser known aspects of his life. Recalling his youth in the South, his experiences as an unyielding Civil War general, and his final years devoted to his renewed faith, eleven chapters span Forrest’s enigmatic life. Firsthand accounts from the diary entries of those who knew him and photographs reveal an obscure side of the soldier, a side that is often omitted from history books. His radical transformation provides the message that positive life changes are possible.

Who is the Author?: Shane E. Kastler is an ordained Southern Baptist minister who has devoted his life to preaching the gospel of Christ. He received his B.B.A. from Northeastern State University, where he became heavily involved in both the church and campus ministries. Afterwards, he earned his M.Div. from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, one of six seminaries affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Upon graduation, Kastler received the LifeWay Preaching Award, which is presented to a graduate who has excelled in the study and practice of preaching. Having served as senior pastor of the nondenominational First Christian Church of Pleasanton, Kansas, he continues to preach and write. He contributes a weekly religious column, “Seeking Higher Ground,” to the Linn County (KS) News in addition to maintaining two Internet blogs. Kastler lives with his family in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.

…and I decided to pursue an M.A. in history instead – silly rabbit.

22 comments… add one
  • Dick Stanley Sep 15, 2010 @ 18:26

    Mike Cox, an old newspaper colleague, who has written two good histories on the Texas Rangers, calls himself an “independent historian,” which doesn’t have the onus of “amateur” but still implies non-credentialed. He has no M.A.

    • John Maass Sep 16, 2010 @ 2:14

      Hi Dick: at academic conferences if a historian is not affiliated with a museum, group, college or univ., he/she is typically termed “independent scholar.” JM

  • Will Hickox Sep 15, 2010 @ 14:08

    As a short introduction to Forrest, I don’t think his obituary in the New York Times (Oct. 30, 1877) has ever been equalled:
    “He was known to his acquaintances as a man of obscure origin and low associations, a shrewd speculator, negro trader, and duelist, but a man of great energy and brute courage.”

  • Phil R Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:48

    Pelican Press does what again, Kevin? I didn’t see a tag, and I’m a neophyte in the field of CW memory–though not to the study and practice of history.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 15, 2010 @ 9:01

      A quick glance at Pelican’s catalog reflects a disturbing bias for manuscripts that are of dubious quality. There most popular titles are about black Confederates, but they also include poorly argued books about secession and Sherman’s March. They tend to be authored by folks who seem to have no understanding of what is involved in formulating a historical argument.

      • Phil R Sep 15, 2010 @ 9:26

        I’m looking forward to a review, then. It’s to be hoped, I suppose, that Mr. Kastler has broken the mold and begins to lead Pelican down the long, narrow road to respectability in our profession.

        If not … well, there’s the humor value in the Neo-Confederate canon.

  • Kevin McCann Sep 15, 2010 @ 7:11

    Academics with master’s and doctoral degrees are not the exclusive interpreters or storytellers of history. If this was the case, a lot of local and regional history would go unnoticed. I have a bachelor’s degree in History, but life choices kept me from pursuing a higher degree. While you may disagree with this author’s credentials to write a competent biography, he is obviously a well-educated man and his work shouldn’t be dismissed simply because he doesn’t possess an M.A. in history. Silly rabbit.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:28

      I think you have to know something about Pelican Press to understand my comment. It’s not meant as a sweeping generalization about what it takes to write history. I actually agree with much of what you have to say.

      • Kevin McCann Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:43

        That’s good to hear. I’m glad what you wrote wasn’t disparaging toward amateur historians like myself. Sorry I misunderstood your post. Thank you for clarifying.

        • Kevin Levin Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:45

          Not a problem and thanks again for taking the time to write. Some of the best written history is authored by so-called “amateur historians” – not really a term I prefer.

          • Kevin McCann Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:52

            What term would be better for “amateur historian”?

            • Kevin Levin Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:53

              I tend to think that if you do a competent job practicing the craft than you are a historian, plain and simple.

              • Kevin McCann Sep 15, 2010 @ 8:57

                Thank you, Kevin–I like that much better. If one takes the subject matter seriously, does objective research, and shares the results in a balanced fashion, one should be considered a historian.

                • John Maass Sep 16, 2010 @ 2:12

                  Remeber, amateur really means “one who does something from the heart,” as opposed to getting paid for it or doing it for a living. I think in modern times we equate amateur with poor quality?

  • Chris Evans Sep 15, 2010 @ 6:54

    I believe that besides the classic Forrest books by Wyeth and Henry that the best biographies are ‘Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography’ by Jack Hurst and ‘A Battle from the Start: The Life of Nathan Bedford Forrest’ by Brian Steel Wills. They are quite excellent, fair, and well written. I don’t think I will be delving into the strange Pelican Press book anytime soon.

  • MississippiLawyer Sep 15, 2010 @ 5:23

    Forrest’s greatest failure of the war was in not whipping Hood’s butt the morning of Franklin. He should have ACTUALLY beat him within an inch of his life. Had he done so the Army of Tennessee wouldn’t have been murdered in a single afternoon as they were there.

    • Robert Lee Baker Sep 30, 2010 @ 11:58


  • Colin Woodward Sep 15, 2010 @ 3:36

    I just finished “Devil’s Dream,” a novel about Forrest. It certainly was not about his Christian period. A very weird book, but worth reading, especially for the stuff about NBF’s slaves.

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