James M. McPherson, naval historian

A friend of this blog sent me snippets of an interview with James M. McPherson (right). The usual elements of self-parody are leavened with disclosures embarassing to Gary Gallagher. My emphasis added.

Naval History: What do you see in the future for Civil War history? Is there a cadre out there to carry the torch from the likes of you and all the other well-known Civil War historians?

McPherson: Most of the people I know in the field right now are in their 40s or older. I can’t think of anybody younger coming along. So frankly, I don’t know. Maybe quite a few people are out there in their 30s or late 20s who just haven’t made a big impact yet and will do so in the next few years. If so, I’m not aware of them. I think there may be a decline in interest in the coming generation.

Naval History: We’ve heard you are at work on a Civil War naval book. Please tell us about the scope of it and when we might see it in print.

McPherson: This is a volume in the series Gary Gallagher ... is editing for the University of North Carolina Press. [...] About a dozen books are scheduled for the series, on the both the military and nonmilitary aspects of the war. Since I had become interested in the naval war, especially when I edited the Lamson letters with my wife Patricia a few years ago, I asked Gary if I could do the naval volume in his series.

[Interesting that McPherson would tell the deeply read subscribers of a naval history magazine that he was commissioned to write about ACW navies simply based on an expression of personal interest. See this exchange for yourself (registration required).]