How I Fooled David Blight

Update: I’ve sold two copies of the book in the past hour. I guess there is no such thing as a negative review. 🙂

I have to say that I really thought my book’s Amazon page was going to be flooded with negative reviews from day one of publication.  I even spent some time strategizing over how I might respond, but the negative reviews never appeared.  Better late than never.  Up until three days ago there was only one review posted.  In the last few days one very positive review appeared and today I noticed the following review from “silver dollar”. 

Apparently, this is an individual who spends a good deal of time on my site given that he/she referenced a post from just this week.

This is a review of Kevin Levin’s book, “The Crater,” and Levin’s blog that supports the book. This review is my opinion only. Feel free to check out Levin’s blog, which gives an eye opening nuance into Levin’s thinking and agenda. A window into the author’s life and musings outside his book is helpful in understanding the author’s intent and agenda in writing a book, and thus reflects directly upon the accuracy of the book. Thus this review includes a review of Levin’s blog that supports his book. Levin’s book should be considered a poorly written fictional account of the Battle of the Crater….

I will be accused of not reading the book by Levin’s supporters, but please read on. I don’t trust Levin to know truth in any form. The author harbors extremely biased opinions against those he does not understand especially southern people. In one rant on his blog Levin refers to one southerner as “bat s*** crazy.” Is this the kind of language that should come from an educator, scholar or author? I think not.

The historical facts in the book, backed up by Levin’s assumptions, are nothing but opinions and assumptions and half truths. On occasion Levin spins the story to lull the reader into believing the research is impeccable, and that Levin understands and writes the only true account of history. Only fools, and the naive will be taken in by such garbage.

Like many authors whose sole purpose seems to be making money writing books, and profiting from spinning a Civil War story, Levin has a blog peddling his book. Check out his blog in support of the book for eye openers. Most posts that disagree with his opinion will not be allowed on his fully moderated blog. Levin carefully moderates each and every post, and his agenda shows through with the posts that he allows on the blog.

Occasionally Levin will allow a post that disagrees with his agenda. In response to such posts Levin will misuse words, take statements out of context, and slam the commentator in a way to make the commentator look ignorant and “dumber” than a fifth grader, and then close the comments to further commentary. I suggest Levin used his blog in this way to gather material for the book.

I don’t understand how a well respected Civil War author such as David Blight was fooled by Levin. Posted on almost every page of Levin’s blog is Blight’s short comment about Levin’s book. In part Blight states, “. . . showing us a piece of the real war that does now (sic) get into the books.” The word “now” is probably misspelled and really means “does NOT get into the books.” Friends there’s a reason Levin’s garbage does NOT get into the books. It’s pure fiction.

Obviously, I am not going to take the time to comment on the content of this “review.”  Ultimately, what I find interesting is that I upset this individual to such an extent that he feels compelled to make a record of it for everyone else.  Now perhaps this individual did read my book thoroughly, but chose not to introduce any specific interpretive agreements here.  I have my doubts, but just in case I invite “silver dollar” to compose a more carefully crafted review that points out specific interpretive shortcomings in my book for publication on my blog.  It’s the least I can do given the amount of time this individual spends worrying about my blog and book.

24 comments… add one
  • Bruce K. Evans May 10, 2013 @ 7:35

    Mr. Levin I would like to congratulate you on the publication of another history book, a difficult feat in and of itself. I have not read your book, but would like to offer the following observations if I may. The title of your book might be construed by some as being somewhat controversial as no military participants ever enjoy the term “murder”. I would conjecture that beyond that, there will always be some who remain firmly entrenched in their own beliefs, however racist, who want no light shined on those they despise. To write on the exploits or suffering of African-American troops would be seen as intolerable by them.

    I look forward to reading your work and assessing for myself the validity of your research and conclusions. In the meantime, as long as you did not have the Union troops firing down into the Crater where hundreds of Confederate troops were trapped, you have not revised history as far as you might have. While my personal focus is primarily on the technology of warfare (including mine operations) the human element must be included as well. I look forward to seeing how you have accomplished that.

    My own website includes a picture of the entrance to the mine at The Crater in the Petersburg National Battlefield Park as one of the places that influenced my own interest in history. My grandfather who took me there told me many men died at that spot, but he never mentioned the color of their uniform or their skin, they were soldiers fighting for what they believed in.

    Thank you for the opportunity to reply, good luck with this and your future works.

  • Joe Fiffick May 9, 2013 @ 20:17

    After that negative neo-confederate review, I had to buy the book, signed by the author who was able to dupe David Blight for a positive review.

    • Kevin Levin May 10, 2013 @ 2:27

      I thank you as does Silver Dollar. 🙂

  • Mary Ellen Maatman May 9, 2013 @ 11:50

    The negative review is great advertising. Now I definitely want to get the book and read it!

    • Kevin Levin May 9, 2013 @ 11:52

      Hi Mary Ellen,

      Music to my ears. 🙂 If you do go through my website and you can get a cheaper copy that is signed.

  • Bummer May 9, 2013 @ 9:21

    That’s not a valid review. In Bummer’s opinion, your book is a reflection of Kevin’s passion as a historian and instructor, your soul and empathy for the human condition past and present. “Crater” is who Levin is and his take on memory. Great read. Thanks!


    • Kevin Levin May 9, 2013 @ 9:41

      Kevin appreciates Bummer’s kind words about the book. That said, I certainly don’t believe my book is beyond criticism. In fact, I suspect that most historians appreciate critical analysis of their work. Our understanding of the past is always a work in progress.

  • Bryan Cheeseboro May 9, 2013 @ 8:57

    Considering that Kevin and David Blight are on the same page with Civil War memory (note lowercase “m” here), I find it hard to believe SilverDollar would regard blight as a “well respected Civil War author.”

    • Kevin Levin May 9, 2013 @ 9:03

      I found that strange as well, but I suspect he hasn’t read Blight either.

  • GDBrasher May 9, 2013 @ 7:49

    I have but one thing to say: SilverDollar is batshit crazy.

    • Kevin Levin May 9, 2013 @ 8:54

      You just made Richard Williams cry. 🙂

  • Mark Ay May 8, 2013 @ 22:37

    I started reading it last night, poor old Silver Dollar should do the same. His review is also at odds with a very favorable one in the current issue of The Journal of Military History…who are you going to go with?

    • Kevin Levin May 9, 2013 @ 1:22

      Thanks for the vote of confidence. Hope you enjoy it.

  • Rob Baker May 8, 2013 @ 17:16

    Well….I do love fiction.

  • Corey Meyer May 8, 2013 @ 13:54

    Damn, wish I had read this review before I ordered your book the other day. Oh well, I guess I will have to read it just to justify the money I just wasted….so goes the world.

    • Kevin Levin May 8, 2013 @ 13:56

      I just ask that you go in with an open mind. 🙂

  • Brooks D. Simpson May 8, 2013 @ 10:53

    Silver Dollar ain’t worth a penny. You might want to see who else garners a single star from him. Not bad company. You can then write: “Silver Dollar ranks my work alongside the writings of Eric Foner, Joe Glatthaar, and William Freehling.”

    The “reviewer’s” other interest in reading betrays his identity, for those who might poke about a bit.

    • Kevin Levin May 8, 2013 @ 10:55

      That is good company indeed.

  • Jimmy Dick May 8, 2013 @ 10:52

    This is why all book reviews should only be allowed to be made by people who use their real names. It is amazing how many people are so very, very brave when they can hide behind a pseudonym, yet when blogs and forums require actual real names they scurry for cover like the roaches they are.
    I’ve noticed the Heritage instead of History crowd doesn’t like real history that conflicts with their pathological stance on the lie that is the Lost Cause. Fortunately for them, there are actual books that have been published using simple words so that they may actually be able to read them and not suffer a fatal case of learning.
    I wouldn’t worry about it and I really doubt you are. Being attacked by that group is like getting a certification that you’re actually doing something right.

    • Kevin Levin May 8, 2013 @ 11:00

      Obviously I am not worried about it. Negative reviews such as this one are as valuable as the positive. That the reviewer evaluates the book simply as an extension of the blog is quite telling. It’s true that I explored some of the subject matter first on the blog, but as you know the book is built around an interpretation of the sources that I chose to utilize. It is certainly open to criticism, but simply sharing that you disagree with the “opinions” expressed suggests that Silver Dollar doesn’t really know how to go about doing a critical reading.

    • Paul Taylor May 8, 2013 @ 12:08

      “It is amazing how many people are so very, very brave when they can hide behind a pseudonym.”

      So true. It reminds me of the Roger Waters song, “The Bravery of Being Out of Range.”

      • Kevin Levin May 8, 2013 @ 13:12

        It certainly makes it very easy to vent without having to take responsibility for it. I don’t mind it at all. It really is a reflection of how many people view history.

  • Scott Manning May 8, 2013 @ 10:46

    He obviously didn’t read it, which are the worst Amazon reviews. However, his profile photo is fantastic.

    • Kevin Levin May 8, 2013 @ 10:54

      You don’t think he read it? 🙂 I am serious with my open invitation. That said, I am not even sure this individual is capable of writing a more formal review, which is why he concentrates on my blog.

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