Book Reviews And The Blogger’s Responsibility

I see that a few of my fellow bloggers [Dimitri Rotov, Sean Dail, and Touch the Elbow] are pleased to have received their Simon and Schuster package which includes new titles about Lincoln, Taney, and the War of 1812.  I expect to find my package at the front door later this afternoon.  Let’s admit that there is something flattering about being singled out by a major publisher, though as Sean Dail explains it is clearly in their interest to take advantage of the blogosphere.  As I see it the publisher probably doesn’t need to worry about any negative assessments of their books; it may be enough that the book is referenced and linked to by others. 

It does, however, raise some interesting questions about our responsibility in providing analytical or critical reviews of these texts – if we choose to review them at all.  Let’s face it, the value of three new hardback books is somewhere around $90 and one may be tempted to be more praiseworthy given the possibility of additional preview copies.  I’ve received a number of preview copies and make it clear to the publisher that the book will receive a critical assessment.  In the case of David Eicher’s new book I wrote a very negative review since I thought it was an overall disappointment.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I never see another book from Little Brown. 

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

1 comment… add one
  • Sean Dail Oct 26, 2006 @ 13:45

    Very thoughtful post, Kevin. I have been carefully considering the same question about objectivity – but considering the personalities involved, I have little doubt that we will keep each other honest in our evaluations of the books. You, Dimitri, and Eric have already made it clear that you pull no punches when it comes to critiquing books. And while Simon and Schuster may not know that, they will find it out sooner or later if they send out a substandard book! 🙂

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