Some folks will break the bank for a chance to meet a famous politician. Kids will tear down the door simply to stand within 50 feet of a rock music star. [...] But I'd like to think that in my mature years, the people I revere are writers and historians who help me make sense out of the world I live in. Or at least, like the late Steven Ambrose, entertain me while informing me.
(Entertain, me baby! I'm a big time history reader - shake your stuff, talespinner. I'm paying the bills here, sweetheart - make daddy happy.)
Sorry for the outburst. Returning to the subject of James "the man in the wrap-around shades" McPherson, this Ohioan notes that:
McPherson is the author of "Battle Cry of the Republic," the best, most informative single volume of Civil War history ever written.
McPherson's books fill my shelves.
He views the American experience from Jamestown to the Cold War from every angle.
He has made some of the most complex aspects of our American story fairly clear to me.
... meeting a writer who has given me so much information in such an entertaining way is going to be fun.
I don't idolize writers.
Which brings me to the prerennial question of why people read such as McPherson or Ambrose. Let's just say that in this case, at least, we are clearly dealing with a seeker of baseline information who is self-conscious about needing to be entertained.
And did you notice that he consistently refers to McPherson as a writer, not as a scholar.
We're making progress. Yes we are.
Next week we'll look at the levels of McPherson's current book sales as an indication of major (positive) shifts occurring in Civil War publishing.