The publishing dog chases its tail

A reader writes:
I was thinking about Grant the other day – and noting the slew of forthcoming Grant biographies by big names. Have you noticed? Three major biographers have Grant bios in the works: H.W. Brands (Oct. 2012), Ron Chernow (not sure when), and Ronald C. White, Jr. (2014).


Here’s a test--how many Grant bios can you name off the top of your head in the past 15 years? Simpson, Perret, Smith, Waugh, Longacre, Korda… I think G is challenging Lincoln as the most popular biographical subject. Not to mention the “dual” biographies: Grant and Twain, Grant and Sherman, Grant and Lincoln.

And … oh good, another new biography of Thomas. Am I the only one that is heartily tired of hearing about GHT and how unappreciated he is? Three biographies since 2009 – all of them insisting he is unappreciated.

All right, all right, enough already, we appreciate him!

Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas – 2009 – Thomas “has never captured the public imagination”

George Thomas: Virginian for the Union – 2010 – “one of the North’s greatest generals… yet he has been eclipsed.”

George Henry Thomas: As True As Steel – 2012 – “George Henry Thomas still has not received his due.” Really? He still hasn’t?
Publishers showed us two things during the sludgefest that followed Ken Burns's "Civil War." (1) Whatever works, keep doing it. (2) The simpler the meme, the greater the sales.

Now I have a question for all of you. Earl Hess has been on a publishing roll. What is the Earl Hess value proposition? He writes outside of my expertise and I do not understand what exactly he is all about. Storyteller? Fresh new research? Powerful affirmations of what we already know? Bold revisionist? What is Earl Hess doing?

Theories welcome, esp. from Hess fans.