Good cavalry and bad books

Eric Wittenberg is rethinking McClellan and his cavalry and has composed a nice post about it. It reminds me that I need to write a little on the subject too, starting with the McClellan/Johnston/Davis cavalry doctrine disputes after the return of the Delafield commission from the Crimean War.

Which also reminds me that Eric had written some time ago, in an email, that he was dissatisfied with some of the books of a small publisher I had praised, Pelican. He had suffered an especially bad experience with White Mane, too. Buyer beware he said. There are publishers with some rot on the rosters.

Now, I should warn all that I like the publishers of bad little books - and I like their bad little books too. Of course there are two kinds of bad books. The first kind, which I read avidly, has interesting sourced material mired in bad history of one kind or another. I try to skate past the bad stuff and pick up the good.

The second kind is just bad history through and through. That is a losing proposition but perhaps a price worth paying to keep a pipeline open for bad book type one.

I remember plowing through this terrible 1968 self-published bio of Gen. "Bull" Sumner by a distant relative. At the end of this wearying read lay a morsel: the author complained that people made too much of Bull Sumner being cousins with Senator Charles Sumner.

Where have you ever read that before? Something to be verified somehow, but quite the choice bit. And I only had to read one bad, obscure book to get at it.

Win-win, no?