Dimitri Rotov has a fiery post up that evaluates Joseph Glatthaar’s recent scholarship – specifically his use of statistical analysis in his recent studies. It’s a worthwhile read, though Rotov chose to embeds his analysis in his vaguely-defined “Centennialist” school paradigm. He begins with this little gem:
“Joseph T. Glatthaar is an early middle-aged Centennialist being groomed by Gary Gallagher to walk in the shoes of himself, Sears, McPherson, and the old storytellers – Williams, Williams, Catton, etc.”
I’m sure Glatthaar would find such an evaluation of his career as laughable, but this sort of critique is standard in Rotov’s arsenal. In the end, it fails to shed any light at all on Glatthaar’s scholarship. We do get closer to a formal critique re: Glatthaar’s citing of casualty figures in General Lee’s Army: From Victory to Collapse. Rotov begins by taking Glatthaar to task for his imprecise citation of casualty figures and his failure to utilize Thomas Livermore’s Numbers and Losses. Rotov didn’t bother to look up Glatthaar’s references for his Cedar
Creek Mountain, but it only takes a few seconds to learn that they were pulled out of one of the appendices in Robert K. Krick’s, Stonewall Jackson at Cedar Mountain. It’s not clear to me what exactly is problematic with citing one of the authorities on this particular battle.
The real target, however, is Glatthaar’s companion volume to General Lee’s Army, which includes all of the statistical tables compiled during the research process. I have not yet received my review copy of Soldiering in the Army of Northern Virginia: A Statistical Portrait of the Troops Who Served under Robert E. Lee, but I freely admit that I am not trained in statistics, which is why I believe it is worth reading Rotov’s review. At the same time it would be easier to wade through without the snide remarks, but that is something we’ve all come to
love accept about his blog. I guess what I am looking for is a review of the review. I assume that the academic journals will find a qualified reviewer to examine the methodology and analysis contained in the book, but that will take some time. In the mean time I don’t expect the more popular review forums to do much beyond surface analysis.
Finally, I find Rotov’s post to be an excellent example of the potential of blogging to speed up the formal review process.