This morning I received an email from the president of Fonthill Media threatening me with legal action because of my blog post about Phillip Thomas Tucker’s book Blacks in Gray Uniforms (America Through Time Publishers).

The initial email failed to point out anything specific that was problematic in the post, but the author made it very clear: “…I cannot allow you to do damage to my commercial trading without redress. I invite you to desist, if you do not I will immediately request our attorney to commence action against you on the basis of damage to corporate reputation.”

In a follow up email the publisher noted that I had inaccurately described the relationship between America Through Time and History Press/Arcadia. I immediately amended the post. This was not a problem at all since my only concern is the content of Tucker’s book. I was also warned about a potential copyright violation for including an image of a page from the book in the post. Not wanting to quibble I chose to remove it along with the image of the book cover. Again, it did not in any way detract from my focus in the post.

The publisher assumes that my motivation for the post was the result of having been passed over for Tucker. I assured him that this was not the case and that my own scholarship on this very subject is safely in the hands of a well-respected academic publisher.

In the end I will defend every word of the blog post. This individual will never understand my interest in this subject as a historian and educator and why I remain so vigilant about pointing out where history becomes fantasy. As I noted before, I would not care so much about this specific title, but for the fact that the author highlights his PhD in history. This is certainly going to be leveraged as a reason to take this book seriously.

However, if you are going to bill yourself as a serious academic historian than you should be held to those standards. And that is what I plan to continue to do.

33 comments add yours

  1. I’m pretty sure that any “damage to corporate reputation” resulting from publishing Tucker’s book is entirely self-inflicted.

  2. Clearly it’s they who aren’t versed in the law. The image is fair use.

  3. “This illustrates why I like my history the same way I like my science: after peer review!” Courtesy of Marie Bohusch.

  4. Some will surely take him seriously. And he was on C-Span in 2014.

    • For the record, I have no idea whether he is responsible or if the publisher made the decision to contact me independently.

      • He threatened to sue a message board over a review of his Gettysburg book by someone who pointed out that he used Wikipedia as a source! What authors do that crap?

  5. Hah–I think they hired one of Trump’s lawyers.

    You should hire Stormy Daniel’s lawyer in response.

  6. Aww, you hurt his itty bitty feewings!! Seriously though, he sounds like an awful narcissist who can’t handle one bit of criticism, of any kind. Those people are toxic.

  7. Perhaps the publisher should be more concerned about the pattern of content in the reviews, rather than threatening the reviewers.

  8. I just looked this guy up. Wow. He’s written 20 books and over 60 articles on just about every historical topic imaginable. He is a civilian historian for the US Air Force. They must not keep him busy enough at his day job. He is certainly not a specialist in any topic with such a broad scope of work. Makes me really question his PhD program.

    • Andrew,

      No, he hasn’t been an US Air Force historian for at least ten years. He’s still claiming that but he “retired” a number of years ago.

  9. I was just informed Mr. Thomas was removed [that’s the actual term used] from his position as an Air Force historian some time ago. That he still claims it as his current position is perhaps instructive.

    • Proud winner of the Douglas Southall Freeman Award which is awarded by a neo-confederate group, the Military Order of the Stars and Bars.

      Not to say that the books and authors who have won this award have not written good work, but I’m not so sure that this award is as worthy as it once might have been due to the completely inaccurate history presented as fact by the neo-confederates.

  10. People who need to impress usually aren’t, in actuality, very impressive.

  11. I would be saying, “Take me to court, please! Bring your evidence with you. Can we put it on television while we are at it so people can learn why your client is wrong?”

  12. Kevin, just wait until/if your book gets reviewed together with his in an academic journal. That’ll be very interesting.

    • I can’t imagine that his will be reviewed in an academic journal.

  13. Update: I edited the post slightly to clarify that it was the publisher who contacted me and not the author. I have yet to hear directly from the author.

  14. OMG, Kevin- This book appeared on an e-mail notice of new history titles by I went to the site and there was only one review, 4 stars but the text was very tepid. What stunned me was the interminable and insufferable author’s biography. I only was able to get through a couple of paragraphs before the arrogance of it overwhelmed me and I couldn’t go any further. Does anyone know, did he write it himself? It certainly reads like he did.

    • I would bet a week’s salary he did. Similar to music, the more grandiose statements a person makes about themselves, the worse their product is. Narcissists like this simply cannot handle any form of criticism, thus the lawsuit threats. A real author expects and weathers all kinds of criticism, constructive and otherwise. This guy just wants to hear how wonderful he is. Anything else will make him freak. Is he self-published?

    • We can only hope and pray that no one this self-important and thin-skinned is never elected to high public office. That would be a disaster for the Republic.

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