Feedburner and Blog Subscriptions

According to my Feedburner account there are currently 2,542 people who subscribe to Civil War Memory via RSS Feed (the vast majority through Google Reader).  That seems like a pretty good number to me, but at the same time I am told that I “Reach” 0 people.  What is Reach? “Reach is the total number of people who have taken action — viewed or clicked — on the content in your feed.”  So, am I correct in assuming that my RSS readers never click through to view the blog or is there a problem with this statistic?  What am I not understanding about RSS Feeds?

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John Brown by Jacob Lawrence

lawrence_john_brown_13

Legend of John Brown (1978)

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Top 10 Civil War Blogs

Yesterday I was asked to contribute a guest post for Blogs.com: The Best in Blogs of what I consider to be the 10 best Civil War blogs.  It hasn’t been published yet, but here is a preview of the list in no particular order.

1. A. Lincoln Blog [http://alincolnblog.blogspot.com/] Brian Dirck is a well-respected Lincoln scholar who uses his blog to share both his ongoing research projects as well as commentary on Lincoln and popular culture.  His blog has been quite insightful this year as the nation commemorates Lincoln’s Bicentennial.

2. Cenantua’s Blog [http://cenantua.wordpress.com/] Robert’s Moore’s site is by far the most intellectually stimulating blog in the Civil War blogosphere. He reminds us that Southern heritage and memory is much bigger and more interesting than the narrow contours of the Lost Cause.

3. Civil War Books and Authors [http://cwba.blogspot.com/] Stay on top of the latest in Civil War publishing with Drew Wagenhoffer’s invaluable blog.  Drew not only reviews titles from popular and scholarly publishers, but also reviews a wide range of self-published studies that often go unnoticed.

4. Civil War Bookshelf [http://cwbn.blogspot.com/] Dimitri Rotov’s blog is one of the oldest and while I don’t always agree with his commentary his posts are always thoughtful and sure to lead to a broader discussion across the Civil War blogosphere.  Hot topics include the state of Civil War publishing, George McClellan, and his somewhat curious disdain for what he calls the “Centennialist School” of history.

5. Civil Warriors [http://civilwarriors.net/wordpress/] Civil Warriors brings together three of the top historians in the field, including Mark Grimsley, Ethan Rafuse, and Brooks Simpson.  All three offer insight into their respective areas of interest as well as the process of serious scholarly research.

6. My Year of Living Rangerously [http://volunteersinparks.blogspot.com/] Have you ever wanted to work for the National Park Service on a Civil War battlefield?  The next best thing to being one might be to follow Mannie Gentile, who works as a seasonal ranger at the Antietam National Battlefield Park.   Mannie’s passion for the Civil War and love of nature make it clear as to why our battlefields must be preserved for future generations.

7. Renegade South [http://renegadesouth.wordpress.com/] Although a relatively new blog, Victoria Bynum has easily created her own niche in the Civil War blogosphere.  Renegade South is an extension of her own research and published work, most notably, The Free State of Jones and Unruly Women, which explore Southern dissent during the Civil War.

8. Rantings of a Civil War Historian [http://civilwarcavalry.com/] Eric Wittenberg’s interest focus mainly on Civil War cavalry and is one of the more prolific authors currently on the scene.  His site offers commentary on ongoing research projects as well as short biographical sketches of long lost cavalry officers.  Throw in a good rant every so often and you’ve got yourself an entertaining blog.

9. Bull Runnings [http://bullrunnings.wordpress.com/] Harry Smeltzer’s site is essentially an information hub for those interested in the First Battle of Manassas.  In addition to cataloging primary sources from the War of the Rebellion and Southern Historical Society Papers, Harry also offers commentary on a wide range of Civil War related topics.

10. Weirding the Civil War [http://weirdingthewar.com/index.php?blog=2]  This site is somewhat experimental in that it is being used by a group of historians who are preparing essays for publication on narrow topics that challenge aspects of the standard Civil War narrative.  It’s a wonderful example of how blogs can be used by historians to communicate with one another as well as the general public.

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“The History Boys”

the_history_boysLast night I made my acting debut in the Tony Award winning play, “The History Boys.”  It’s the story of a small group of pupils in a British school who are being groomed for admission to Oxford and Cambridge.  The story follows this small group as they navigate through two very different teaching philosophies as well as their own sexuality.  Those of you who have seen the movie are aware of the mature content and may even be surprised that a high school has allowed it to be performed at all.  I am proud to say that I work in a school that strives to address controversial material in a mature and educational manner.  Needless to say, the weeks rehearsing have been challenging given the dialog between student and teacher, though in the end I think we’ve all learned something from one another about this thing called education.

Two scenes in particular stand out to me given my interest in historical memory.  The first takes place in a full classroom and the second between a teacher and student:

Scene 1

Scripps: But it’s all true.

Irwin: What has that got to do with it?  What has that got to do with anything?  Let’s go back to 1914 and I’ll put you a different case.  Try this for size.  Germany does not want war and if there is an arms race it is Britain who is leading it.  Though there’s no reason why we should want war.  Nothing in it for us.  Better stand back and let Germany and Russia fight it out while we take the imperial pickings.  These are facts.  Why do we not care to acknowledge them?  The cattle, the body count.  We still don’t like to admit the war was even partly our fault because so many of our people died.  A photograph on every mantelpiece.  And all this mourning has veiled the truth.  It’s not so much lest we forget, as lest we remember.  Because you should realise that so far as the Cenotaph and the Last Post and all that stuff is concerned, there’s no better way of forgetting something that by commemorating it.

Scene 2

Posner: Hodge?

Hector: Mmm – the important thing is that he has a name.  Say Hardy is writing about the Zulu Wars or later the Boer War possibly, these were the first campaigns when soldiers…or common soldiers…were commemorated, the names of the dead recorded and inscribed on war memorials.  Before this, soldiers…private soldiers anyway, were all unknown soldiers, and so far from being revered there was a firm in the nineteenth century, in Yorkshire of course, which swept up their bones from the battlefield of Europe in order to grind them into fertiliser.  So, thrown into a common grave though he may be, he is still Hodge the drummer boy.  Lost boy though he is on the other side of the world, he still has a name.

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Ebay’s Civil War

[Hat Tip to Mark Snell. There is still time to register for Mark's summer seminar on Race and Ethnicity in the Civil War.]

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