Monday morning reading

This is a long article on a Richmond military bookstore, Owens & Ramsey Historical Booksellers. The punchline - whether or not this sort of business pays - has been left out of the story.

The Stockton/Ericsson "Princeton" catastrophe of 1844 is recalled in a new piece. "Although Capt. Stockton had made every effort to obscure John Ericsson's contribution to the Princeton's design when it was a success, he was now quite willing to share the blame for the disaster." Ah, humanity.

James I. Robertson, Jr., former executive director of the Centennial celebrations, is interviewed at length and proposes that pop history make a little space for actual research and study: "You know, you have to have scholars in ivory towers, that's what academia is all about, but I’d much prefer the honor of being called the 'people’s historian.'"

This new book attacks "Northern" complicity in slave trading, as if the North were an abolitionist bloc. What seems patently foolish on its face may make sense on a deeper level. If the work is aimed at pop history audiences and if those readers have absorbed emotional lessons of identifications based on streamlined and compressed materials, then maybe this enterprise makes sense. The linked review opens with "Here is a book you may not want to pick up..." That only makes sense if the prospective reader personally identifies with the make-pretend world of a robustly antislavery North...