I love this Amazon feature. You get a sense of the broader community of books that individual titles inhabit. I’ve looked at this feature a couple of times on my own book’s Amazon page. The best example that I’ve found is the Kennedy Brothers classic paean to the Lost Cause, The South Was Right (Pelican Press). You can probably predict the family of books that have been purchased in addition to The South Was Right as well as the assumptions being made about how to understand the cause, evolution and consequences of the Civil War.
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. Continue reading
My reading has been all over the place this summer, though much of it has been centered on the history of the Holocaust and Germany, which I will teach for the first time this year. I’ve also decided as a new transplant to Boston that it is time to look more closely at the abolitionist movement.
Joseph Ellis, Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence, (Knopf, 2013).
Julie Roy Jeffrey, Abolitionists Remember: Antislavery Autobiographies and the Unfinished Work of Emancipation, (University of North Carolina Press, 2008).
Barbara Krauthamer, Black Slaves, Indian Masters: Slavery, Emancipation, and Citizenship in the Native American South, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
W. Caleb McDaniel, The Problem of Democracy in the Age of Slavery: Garrisonian Abolitionists and Transatlantic Reform, (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).
Joanne Pope Melish, Disowning Slavery: Gradual Emancipation and “Race” in New England, 1780-1860, (Cornell University Press, 1998).
Henry McNeal Turner, Freedom’s Witness: The Civil War Correspondence of Henry McNeal Turner, (reprint, University of West Virginia Press, 2013).
Bruce Watson, Bread and Roses: Mills, Migrants, and the Struggle for the American Dream, (Penguin 2005).
Dimitri hasn’t posted much in recent months, but yesterday he shared a review of Sam Hood’s new biography of John Bell Hood. I haven’t read the book nor do I plan on doing so. Let me be clear that this brief comment is not about the merits of Sam Hood’s new biography, but about Rotov’s evaluation of it. In that regard I have to say that I am deeply disappointed. This is the same guy who over the years has gone to great lengths to knock down some of the most popular Civil War historians such as Gary Gallagher, Stephen Sears, James McPherson, and Joe Glatthaar and others that he has dubbed the “Centennial School.” Rotov typically provides specific examples (even footnotes) from the texts he critiques and in the case of McPherson he even attempted to demonstrate instances of plagiarism. He is hard hitting and unapologetic. That said, please don’t mistake this for a tacit agreement with his conclusions. I share this to highlight my disappointment with his most recent review.
Consider the following:
The demolition of Wiley Sword and his ilk is awe-inspiring and I hope it puts the fear of God into that great careless pack of out-of-control nonfiction writers who dominate best-seller lists. They will be held to account somewhere, sometime.
Speaking of which, I am partial to Sam Hood and this work for reasons obvious to those who have read me over time. In 1997, I began compiling and publishing examinations of the claims made against McClellan. My motivation was rage. Having binged on ACW pop history 1994-1997 after 30 years of reading good European history, I found ACW standards so primitive, so insulting, so outlandish as to require outrage.
I have been dwelling on the broader points here without adequately conveying how much excitement there is in author Hood’s specific takedowns of weak claims and garbage citations. I don’t know how Hood authors will be able to appear in public after this (but perhaps I underestimate the shamelessness of Civil War authors). If you enjoy the pointed historiographic criticism appearing occasionally in this blog, this book is for you. Here General Hood has been done a service as has ACW history.
At no point does Rotov offer any substantive critique of the book’s interpretation. No examples of how the author challenges prevailing thought are given. Nor does Rotov give us any indication of the picture of Hood that emerges as a result of this supposedly important new biography. Make no mistake, I don’t care whether he likes the book or not. What I find appalling is the blatant double-standard at work here. And what I find even more interesting is that this is almost always the case when it comes to books published by Savas Beatie.
Michael Ballard, Grant at Vicksburg: The General and the Siege, (Southern Illinois University Press, 2013).
Allegra Di Bonaventura, For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England, (Liveright, 2013).
Carole Emberton, Beyond Redemption: Race, Violence, and the American South after the Civil War, (University of Chicago Press, 2013).
Gary Gallagher, Becoming Confederates: Paths to a New National Loyalty, (University of Georgia Press, 2013).
Allen Guelzo, Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, (Knopf, 2013).
Caroline Janney, Remembering the Civil War: Reunion and the Limits of Reconciliation, (University of North Carolina Press, 2013).
John Stauffer, and Benjamin Soskis, The Battle Hymn of the Republic: A Biography of the Song That Marches On, (Oxford University Press, 2013).
Timothy Wesley, The Politics of Faith During the Civil War, (Louisiana State University Press, 2013).