Can’t say that I am surprised by this news. After sixteen years Keith Poulter is calling it quits at North and South magazine. I still remember opening up the first issue back in 1997. At that time I was managing the periodicals section at Borders Books in Rockville, Maryland. At the time I was just beginning to read Civil War history seriously and I even tried my hands at writing a few book reviews for the Washington Times. I contacted Keith early on to see about writing book reviews for the magazine and he gave me the green light to contribute on a fairly regular basis. You can find a fair number of my book reviews in those early issues, which helped me quite a bit to begin to build up a resume and make new contacts.
For much of its history N&S was a quality publication, though now I understand that much of that had to do with the work of Terry Johnston, who eventually left and founded The Civil War Monitor magazine. For those of us looking for a bit more academic rigor North and South offered a wide range of topics from some of the leading historians along with footnotes. Who ever heard of such a thing in a glossy. I continue to use many of the articles in my Civil War courses. Continue reading
From the North & South Website
I was surprised to see an advertisement for North and South magazine in the latest issue of Hallowed Ground that included a special discount to new subscribers. Keith Poulter has a brand new website up, which suggests that he is trying to bring back to life what was once a first-rate publication. Unfortunately, those days have long passed. It is true that when the magazine hit the newsstands back in 1997, it set a new standard for what a popular history publication could be. It regularly attracted some of the top scholars in the field and introduced aspects of the war that had never made it into a popular magazine format.
Looking back it is clear that the most important asset on Poulter’s staff was Terry Johnston and he has just launched The Civil War Monitor, which I strongly encourage you to consider. My N&S subscription recently expired and I have no intention of renewing it, not simply because of the way I was handled as an author, but more importantly because of the declining quality of the content. Perhaps I am being unnecessarily critical, but in this economy consumers deserve information with which to base a decision and I am certainly not the first person to raise concerns. For me it was an investment that went sour and that alone deserves to be made known. I am very happy with The Civil War Monitor and as an author and reader I couldn’t be more pleased with Civil War Times.
We shall see whether Poulter can salvage his magazine.
My subscription to this magazine couldn’t run out soon enough. You can imagine my surprise when I read this in Keith Poulter’s “Editorial” column: “We switched printers with the last issue and failed to make clear that the magazines should continue to be mailed to subscribers in polybags. As a result they were not bagged and a number (about a dozen) were damaged in the mail, necessitating their being replaced. As subscribers will already have noticed, this issue was bagged and this will be the case with all future issues.” I can report and as you can see, THIS ISSUE WAS NOT BAGGED!
Today I received a comment on a recent post concerning North and South Magazine [website is still down] from Donald E. Collins, who is a professor of history emeritus at East Carolina University and the author of the book, The Death and Resurrection of Jefferson Davis (Rowan and Littlefield, 2005). Here is the comment:
I hate to resort to public comments on the internet, but as an author in the current (Dec. 2008) issue of North and South, I have reached a point of frustration. I personally consider North and South to be the best popular Civil War magazine on the market. Regardless of the quality of my article on the controversy within the Confederacy on the first National Flag, I believe the selection of articles in the December issue is excellent, and am pleased to have my article included. I have found my conversations with Keith, and Terry before him, to be very pleasant. Yet my frustration with North and South comes from several things. My article on the controversy in the Confederacy over the first national flag was accepted approximately two years ago by Terry Johnson, and was scheduled in the following issue. But when Keith took over, his emphasis shifted to the military and my article sat on a tw0-year back-burner until I lost patience. But my current frustration comes from six weeks of failure to contact Keith or anyone else at the magazine, and of the failure of Keith to either pay for my writing or to send me even one free copy. I had to pay full price at the newsstand for my own article. Is there any way to have the magazine provide author copies, if not the pay? Even with this, I am a fan of the magazine and hope for its success.
I’ve made clear my position on the quality of the magazine over the past year, but I appreciate and share Professor Collins’s sincere wish that publication of the magazine continues. It would be interesting to know if other authors are experiencing the same problems. What I don’t understand is how does Keith Poulter expect to maintain a quality magazine if he does not honor his contracts?
The latest issue is pretty bad. Poulter always jazzed up the military pieces with first-rate maps, but even they are missing in the latest issue. Now, their website is down.
Note: The website is back up as of 11/01/08.