Betsy Rosen has sent me the following wonderful recent quote from Southern littérateur Louis D. Rubin, Jr. (pictured, right). You'll recognize what he's talking about, I think:
I just received a book by and from my Hollins professor and longtime mentor, Louis D. Rubin, Jr.-- THE SUMMER THE ARCHDUKE DIED: On Wars and Warriors, U. of Missouri Press, 2008.I like this phrase very much - "not only repetition but also outright duplication of topic and approach." The later success of Ken Burns and James McPherson in recycling the "greatest hits" of the '50s and '60s "inspired" regurgitation of the exhausted material for a new generation of readers.
It's mostly all about the Great War (with a brief memoir of the author's childhood in Charleston and early fascination with the ACW), but the following paragraphs on p. 13 made me think of you:
"Another and less ideological factor was impacting upon the reading and writing of Civil War military history in the 1950's and 1960's. As new book after book about the war was published, not only repetition but also outright duplication of topic and approach multiplied. More and more was being published about less and less. Some useful and informative books continued to be written, and certain facile assumptions and partisan interpretations received needed revision; but the ratio of heat to light grew ever more inefficient with each book-publishing season.
"Not a few good Civil War historians began to examine the doings of generals and politicians of other wars and crises for possible study. Others took to repeating themselves. By the time the centennial years drew to an end, books on the Civil War were becoming a glut on the history market...."
We are just now coming into a new wave of original research, thought, and analysis. I try to be celebratory about it despite this blog starting out of deep anger with the commercial success of repitition and duplication. The question I force on myself nowadays, however, is whether I am celebrating new work on its own merits or for the relief it gives me from the intellectual poverty of a dying consensus.
(Blogger Betsy's ACW novel Hallam's War, meanwhile, is going paperback with a major trade house. I think ACW novels, on the whole, do better than ACW nonfiction titles.)