Celebrity roundup

James M. McPherson has been named to a a special board of the Encylopedia Britannica.

Dr. McPherson will "will help steer Britannica's editorial operations while grappling with the implications of digital technologies, globalization and the information explosion." You read that correctly, friend.

"At a time when vast quantities of questionable information are available on the Internet and elsewhere, rigorous and reliable reference works are more important than ever..." McPherson: a rigorous technofile who will help Britannica navigate the digital information explosion.

Doris Kearns Goodwin's Lincoln manuscript (currently on its third title, "Team of Rivals") may actually have been turned in for publication - she is slated to sign copies in a New England bookstore on Nov. 3. Will there be copies on Nov. 3rd? Let us see.

Stephen W. Sears is confused by something Edward L. Ayers wrote. In one part of a new book, Ayers traces the origins of the present groupthink in Civil War history (referred to in this blog as "the Centennial Doctrine"). Sears characterizes this as "today's dominant consensus about the war, exemplified by James McPherson's best-selling Battle Cry of Freedom and Ken Burns's widely watched TV documentary 'The Civil War,'..."

It seems all of Ayers' origin-tracing involves the academy, "ignoring any influence on the Civil War-reading general public by such renowned journalists, former journalists, and 'independent historians' as Douglas Southall Freeman, Bruce Catton, Allan Nevins, and Shelby Foote," says Sears, modestly leaving his own name out of the mix.

I find myself agreeing with Sears on this, of course. Sears was a member of the 1960s American Heritage editorial board that finally and authoritatively settled all Civil War controversies. Heed him.