Can you imagine how McPherson's former grad students must have felt to hear him say there is no new talent in Civil War history?Good point, but did he have grad students at Princeton? I have never heard of a Civil War era specialist coming out of Princeton.
Let me propose a few ideas:
Of course, there is a simple answer to the question, "Can you imagine how McPherson's former grad students must have felt?" "Terrible" and "they did this to themselves."
* Many people attracted to Princeton to see McPherson would have gotten that out of their systems long before graduating.
* People enrolling under McPherson as grad students would have been self-selected as non-scholars (as people interested in pop history and storytelling) - not likely to break new ground.
* McPherson's basic stance is hostile to graduate studies; he believes the particulars of the ACW are all well established and that any work needed might be on the fringes of the discipline within the Centennial framework.
* McPherson's displays of personality suggest that he would not welcome a grad student whose intention it would be to write a better narrative history than Battle Cry ... which is a logical project for the kind of talent McPherson would attract.