Meanwhile, dig this WaPo review of Eric Foner's latest. The self-parody leaves me with nothing to mock:
The value of Eric Foner's "The Fiery Trial" lies in its comprehensive review of mostly familiar material; in its sensible evaluation of the full range of information already available about Abraham Lincoln and slavery; and in the deft thoroughness of its scholarship. "The Fiery Trial" does well what has already been done before "but ne'er so well expressed."This review could represent a fair summary of what the legion of regurgitators thinks of itself.
One outlier issue here is "deft thoroughness of its scholarship." These summarizers of secondary sources and purveyors of well-worn analysis are engaged in literary work ("ne'er so well expressed") while modeling some sort of imaginary scholarship mantle for their ignorant but adoring public. Take on the writer label, dear scribblers! Wear it proudly! It's no disgrace.
I think many believe that rewriting historical stuff becomes "history" by virtue of the subject matter handled, and their handling makes them "scholars."
Imagine a scholar who has never had an original thought or insight, never pieced together primary sources to uncover new patterns, or repudiated widely-held but erroneous views. Were the monks who copied manuscripts scholars? Scholars of chirography perhaps.
On the other hand, in the context of a discourse so low as that of WaPo's battle flags, Foner and company might scale up to the level of "scholar" by comparison.