In his review, Greene cites a reference by Guelzo to the likely reception of his book among his fellow academics.
Guelzo, the Henry C. Luce Professor of the Civil War Era at Gettysburg College, belongs to that class of academic historians who, Guelzo accurately notes, consider studies that deal with battles as possessing “a reputation close to pornography” (xvi). His Acknowledgments serve primarily as fair warning to his scholarly colleagues that they are unlikely to approve of this book because it dares to commit almost purely military history.
I think such a concern is misplaced unless Guelzo is referring to the academic world beyond his colleagues in Civil War/Southern studies. My guess is that many, if not most, of his academic colleagues are going to devour this book even if they don’t admit so in polite company. And those who don’t will certainly not hold it against him. Continue reading →
What happens when you bring a radio talk show host, who hasn’t thought about the Civil War since High School and a historian, who has been studying it for five years? What is truly miraculous is that in the process Thomas Fleming was able to produce “A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War.” I lost count of the numerous factual mistakes and exaggerations made by Fleming. Truly horrific, but given Fleming’s popularity I have no doubt that the book will fly off the shelves. This new understanding basically comes down to the observation that the North and South really didn’t like one another.