Brian K. Burton, Russel Beatie and a certain peninsula

Three authors I respect (Mark Grimsley, Brooks Simpson, and Steve Woodworth) have enabled Brian K. Burton to publish a Seven Days touring guidebook.

If I am not mistaken, the estimable deep reader Drew Wagenhoffer, game designer, relied heavily on Burton's Extraordinary Circumstances (a Seven Days history) to design a game. Another plus for Burton.

Myself, I am remiss in not reading Extraordinary Circumstances which has long been at hand. The frightening aspects of EC, for me, are the kudos and acknowledgements. These are overwhelmingly weighted with secondary source Centennial doctrinal scripture. Or to put it another way, Burton is personally inspired by that ACW history that repulses me the most - the non-negotiable belief system constructed by the editorial directors of American Heritage Magazine 50 years ago. My poison, his pleasure.

The impressive thing about Burton, what impelled me to buy his book, is his concentrated neutrality and his personal struggle to overcome the biases of his authorial heroes. Burton does not seem to engage in the Centennial standard practices of reader manipulation, emotional appeal to ignorance, nor to gameplay using archetypes or stereotypes. Nor does he synthesize - a la James McPherson - crappy secondary sources to construct a nominally "compelling narrative" on foundations of sand.

The question in reading his opus will be how much the suppression of evidence by his heroes affects his own research and conclusions. I'll report back on this. Whatever the result, I don't think I'll hold it against Burton personally. I'm too impressed by his "love these guys, got to do my own thinking" ethos.

There are other straight-shooters coming out of the Centennial matrix, it's an interesting phenomenon. Gerald Prokopowicz is pretty open about his Centennial intake and inspirations and he can interview gadfly complainers like myself in a spirit of equanimity. This makes for good radio. Given the people in Burton's corner, I need to read the book that precedes the touring guide.

Now for my own shortcomings. I have a view of the Peninsula campaign based on available but suppressed sources that I have seen nowhere, anywhere, until reading the proofs of Russel Beatie's Army of the Potomac Volume III. And Beatie has more sources than me, which makes for even more interesting reading than I could offer, should I decide to stop wasting time blogging and carping.

Beatie's Volume III does not get as far as the Seven Days, however - he is reported to be working on that in the next volume now. It will be interesting to compare Beatie's account of the Seven Days with Burton's. Meanwhile, I'll take the word of trusted advisors GS&W and buy Burton's guidebook. Got my rubber Wellies handy in case of an outbreak of mud. Got my walking stick. Might leave some attitude behind.