Thank you sir, may I have another?

Did James McPherson step on some toes?

>> Author: Gary Gallagher, et al, June 2003:
The American Civil War: This Mighty Scourge of War

>> Author: James McPherson, January 2007:
This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War

Well, you don't read McPherson for originality, anyway. Synthesis is his thing. Synthesis in book titles, even. Gallagher shouldn't mind. They're pals.

More interesting is the case of Catherine Clinton. Clinton is one of the very few known graduate students of the greatest living Civil War historian to actually be practicing in or near the field of Civil War history.

A few years ago she noticed there had been no Harriet Tubman biography for adults in decades. I recall interviews in which she pointed proudly to her forthcoming first-in-a-long-time Tubman tome. She piqued my interest.

Unlucky lady. Too many people had the same idea at the same time and she found her competing authors' release dates synched up with her own. On no - a flood of Tubman bios!

Enter her teacher McPherson.

In his New York Review of Books gig, McPherson lumped Clinton's Tubman biography into an omnibus review with all the others, not giving her the courtesy of solo consideration.

Clinton's stuff was so buried in McPherson's recapitualted and synthesized material that now, a naive newspaper reviewer recapping that one essay (as redone in Mighty Scourge), missed Clinton altogether. Have a look. Catherine who?

If these are the perks for McPherson's friends, why bother?

p.s. Another slight on Clinton's work here.