Update: Ted Savas has issued a formal apology at his blog site.
At some point every blogger experiences regret after hitting the publish button prematurely. You can delete what you have written, but that doesn’t erase all traces of the post. This is something I constantly hammer home to my students when using social media. The information is easily accessible if you know where to look. Ted Savas should have realized this yesterday as he thought through what he believed to be an appropriate response to a negative review of one of his books.
The screenshot to the right is that post. Perhaps he took it down after reading author Stephen Hood’s apology to the author of the review, which he posted on my blog and at The Civil War Monitor. It’s hard to imagine that at any time Mr. Savas thought that this blog post was an appropriate response, but there it is – the clearest window to date into his distorted view of this situation. Continue reading
Full Disclosure: I am a Digital History Adviser for The Civil War Monitor magazine.
You may remember that both publisher Ted Savas and author Stephen “Sam” Hood took issue with a couple of posts of mine [and here] that targeted the way the latter’s new study of John Bell Hood was being marketed. At the time Savas suggested we wait for the reviews to appear. They have appeared and one in particular written by historian Carole Emberton for The Civil War Monitor has unleashed a very nasty response from the two. Continue reading
Ted Savas is having a field day marketing his new book about John Bell Hood by author Stephen Hood. He has gone out of his way to emphasize how the book breaks new ground, specifically in reference to the popular claim that Hood was both an alcoholic and drug addict. In one of his latest posts he takes author Allen Guelzo to task for casually referencing this little piece of Hood lore in his new book about Gettysburg. I will let Savas take it from here.
General Hood did not sustain himself or even use alcohol or opiates as Sword and others continue to endlessly prevaricate about, and historians who should know better copy without curiosity or question. Stephen Hood’s John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General (2013) unhorses these (and other) untruths and buries them under a flurry of stomping hooves. He does this in two ways: with newly found original firsthand sources, and a simple if time-consuming comparison of the “sources” originally used by Sword and others to characterize Hood as a drunk, crippled, drugged, hack of a leader.
This new book conclusively demonstrates that, even WITHOUT these newly discovered documents, the sources used by Sword and others were all hearsay or misread or intentionally misused (readers can decide, and the plentiful reviews on Amazon and elsewhere demonstrate that they are shocked by the mountain of evidence). The record is one secondary slander built upon another, piled upon a third, each with its own new purple adjectives thrown in for good measure. If Stephen Hood had left this subject alone, there is no doubt some author would have soon described an inebriated General Hood selling crack and meth in an Atlanta ghetto during leave.
The Civil War is filled with little stories that are told and re-told often with little attention to whether there is sufficient evidence. I’ve fallen into that trap on numerous occasions and I suspect that many of you have done so as well. Most historians welcome being corrected. Here’s the problem. Savas seems to be on some kind of crusade with this particular title as if it alone offers the necessary corrective regarding Hood’s drug and alcohol use. Not so fast; in fact, Stephen Hood is fairly late to the game. Continue reading
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
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.