After a lifetime in teaching, you would expect a world-famous professor - generally thought to be God's gift to Civil War studies - to have a few high-profile students in his chosen field. So far, I believe we have identified just two McPherson students at play in our field, one, teaching at Princeton, the other the methodologically challenged author Tom Carhart.
Here's one more, Catharine Clinton, with the McPherson connection documented here.
That might explain Doris Kearns Goodwin's blurbing of Clinton's 2004 Tubman book. Goodwin's a McPherson friend and McPherson staked his presidency of the AHA to lash out at her plagiarism accusers.Given the tiny number of McPherson students thus far identified, one could reasonably say she seems to be his "star."
Clinton may not count as a Civil War historian per se, however. She comes out of McPherson's own background of race relations history and her biggest project, Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom, is more of an American Studies item.
It also represents a small failure. The hardback did well enough for trade house Little, Brown to encourage issue of a paperback version this January. That paperback is now deeply discounted, from $14.95 list to $4.98 on B&N.
Clinton is prolific, but not in the Civil War genre. Notice (in the link) the number of gender studies deployed. I am not sure Dr. McPherson is at all cool with gender studies. His references to it, in interview after interview, are ambiguously neutral. Here, I think, he actually shows mild hostility:
There is increasing focus on fields like environmental history and women's history and social history and cliometrics, which is a sort of quantitative economic history with a specialized language. All of this makes what a lot of academic historians write either unintelligible or uninteresting to a broad lay audience. But it is what earns promotions, what earns tenure, what earns grants.
Maybe Clinton is compromised in McPherson's personal esteem. I'll have to check her tomes for McPherson blurbs to find out.
[Send in your famous McPhersonites, should you find any.]