The people who position McPherson as the greatest living historian of the Civil War have to do a substantive job making their case. The endless iteration of empty superlatives paints them as sub-par readers and is no help to the man who accepts these inane accolades.
McPherson's interactions with an adoring public remind me of the schoolyard satire of Witold Gombrowicz:
Teacher: And so class, what is it about the incomparable beauty and sweetness of this author's verses that make us adore him as the first and foremost poet of his age? Anyone? Jan?Gombrowicz also invented the characters Professor Philidor and his nemesis Antiphilidor. In view of my creeping Anti-philidorianism, I am going to suspend criticisim of America's love affair with McPherson. Let us have peace, whether or not we can reconstruct McPherson or his public.
Jan: Could it be the incomparable beauty and sweetness of the verses?
Teacher: No, Jan, I am asking what is it in that incomparable beauty and sweetness that we all recognize, that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration such that we crown this man Poet of the Nation as well as Poet of the Age. Yes, Jacek.
Jacek: Is it a certain quality that makes our hearts beat faster with love and pride and exhiliration?
Teacher: No, listen to me. What is that quality that causes us to sing the praises of this mighty incomparable man of letters whose verses of sweetness and beauty cause us to feel utterly unworthy to partake of the same air, whose nobility of character elevates us all and whose poetic insights will never be matched? Anyone?