Man, those Australians are lucky. Around here, we watch the paint dry and try out new adjectives on "best generals" and "worst generals."
Try this critic's comment on for size: "Historians, like economists, are surely well-known for their fissiparous tendency to point in different directions on almost any issue of substance."
You can tell he lives on another continent. And never picked up a second Civil War history after reading his first.
Here is another howler: "Historians, like lawyers, often deal with extremely complex issues not readily encapsulated in a sound bite, op-ed piece, or textbook sentence."
Really? Like this: "The British were the ones who paid the most attention to the American Civil War, and a lot of British leaders were appalled by the escalating level of violence and I think that was one of the motives that prompted British political leaders like Palmerston and Gladstone and Russell to try to intervene to end this increasing violence in North America."
There's some complexity from the most revered Civil War historian of our lifetime.
Our critic does state a proposition, but it's not one to be taken up by our ACW writers any time soon:
Even without going into the details of particular historiographical controversies, the history wars may be beneficial in so far as they underline the provisional and often contested status of much that commonly passes as historical, no less than scientific, knowledge."Provisional" material in Civil War history? Not in a field where giants walk among us, my friend.