I feel a need to respond to this before I head out tomorrow. Back in February I shared the jacket description for Stephen Hood’s new book about John Bell Hood. I suggested that it was just a bit over the top given the claims that the author makes about previous Hood scholars. The book would somehow show that previous scholars ‘ignored or suppressed facts sympathetic to Hood.’ In other words, these scholars were engaged in nothing less than a hatchet job. Yesterday, Ted Savas, who operates Savas Beatie Books responded to my post. Here are some choice excerpts:
The post implicitly challenges the author and publisher (me) to put up or shut up. Many challenged him on his post (as well as one of his comments, which I found rather silly and a direct shot against me and my company), Kevin tried to shut down the conversation by saying he was simply too busy and was likely not even going to read the book. Huh? I guess it is fair game to take the time to pull the trigger on a drive-by post, and then, well, close your laptop. The least he could do is comment on all the reviews, which thus far have been very favorable….
Still, because this book challenges establishment writers (not all of whom are professional historians), I am expecting blow back from the elites who look down on independent publishing and authors who don’t hold a Ph.D. (Spoiler alert: Generally speaking, many who hold doctorates can’t write to save their lives, but they do have damn good editors who make them read like Faulkner. Some day I will post about that.)
Before responding to this let me first make it perfectly clear that I have nothing but the highest respect for Ted Savas’s accomplishments as a publisher. He has attracted some excellent Civil War historians and his books can typically be found on what is left of the skeletal remains of our nation’s bookstores. That is no small feat in this market. As a new author I appreciate Ted’s emphasis on traditional marketing and his use of social media. Because of this I’ve thought that Savas might be the perfect home for my next book on the myth of the black Confederate soldier.
Back to Ted’s response. First, it looks like he is confusing two separate posts in which this book has come up. The more recent post can be found here in response to what I thought was a half-hearted review of the book by Dimitri Rotov. Ted took issue with one particular sentence and I apologized. It was a mistake to include it. Dimitri and Stephen Hood also took the opportunity to respond.
At no point in either post did I attempt to “shut down” discussion and it is dishonest of Ted for suggesting as much. Anyone is free to leave comments. From the beginning my interest was with the way the book was marketed. At no point did I comment on the contents of the book because I had not read it. I stand by those concerns and time will tell if the book stands up. Those of you who have read it are free to share your thoughts below. Unfortunately, right now I don’t have time to read the book nor am I particularly interested in the subject. If that is sufficient to call into question how a book is marketed than so be it.
What I find most troubling, however, by Ted’s response is the reckless use of my post as somehow evidence of a broader turf war between academics (the elites) and popular writers. The implication is that I somehow fall into the former category, which is absurd. I am so tired of these overly simplistic and “silly” distinctions that ultimately only work to highlight the insecurities of those who insist on pointing them out.