The rap on Beatie

A couple of readers who bought Beatie's Army of the Potomac have registered complaints with the book; I wanted to publicize these complaints as valid. Here are the issues:

Item: "Beatie is just not a good writer. More than that he is sloppy."
Comment: I think he is an okay writer, but I will accept some people not having a good reading experience. I am comfortable with bad writing, being an information hound; my payoff is in this or that revelation, new source, or suchlike.

Item: "Typos, typos, typos."
Comment: Indeed and they follow a very interesting pattern: the ones I spotted were all homonyms. This suggests Beatie was dictating and someone was transcribing. In this modern age, publishers have put their editing burdens on authors, but I hold the publisher ultimately responsible for typos.

Not that Beatie would have been terribly helpful to the publisher. Here are some remarks he made about criticism of Nosworthy's Bloody Crucible of Courage:
The usual perfunctory plaudits graced this effort at the beginning of the review, but they quickly disappeared in a blistering series of meaningless but vituperative gripes about middle initials, first names, and other irrelevant mistakes having nothing to do with Nosworthy's historical theory. At the end the reviewer reached the tired old conclusion used so often to crucify young lawyers in large firms for the "typo:" if the proof reading has mistakes (if Nosworthy has incorrect initials), the content must be deficient, especially the analyses and conclusions...
Item: "Conclusions are not clear."
Comment: Beatie is introducing a lot of content into a narrative format and readers looking to follow a storyline are not sure what new "characters" represent thematically or developmentally; nor is Beatie consistently "judgemental" (a la Sears), thus leaving some readers wondering "why did I spend time on that?"

It is possible that these "literary loose ends" will be tied together in future volumes, but I think not. The loose ends I think represent rich military arcana - "So that's why the defenses of Washington were constructed that way!" - tossed out for deep readers. One blogger rated Beatie's work at one star for novice readers and five stars for "experts." That's a pretty good way to decide if you will enjoy this material.

Item: Some conversations are "reconstructed" (albeit noted as such).
Comment: That was/is a horrible idea. I am currently making a count of these monstrosities and expect the total to be quite low. Nevertheless, you cannot launch major revisions to the canon and be taken seriously if reconstructed dialog adorns your book.

This error in judgement flows from a much larger mistake, the decision to cast the work in narrative form. This should have been a collection of essays, each repudiating some nonsensical aspect of AoP history.

Both readers who addressed these complaints to me were ultimately happy with their AoP purchase, despite the criticisms. (One exchange occurred on USENET here.)

When I recommend books, please be warned that (a) I dislike narratives and am crudely indifferent to literary shortcomings in a production; the good writers of bad history have taught me to hate good ACW writing (b) I wallow in arcana.

That's not something Da Capo will want to paste on Beatie's blurb sheets, but they are welcome to it. Meanwhile, do attentively read Army of the Potomac. Put it at the top of your lists.