End-of-year publishing

New meme alert: Howard J. Fuller argues in Clad in Iron that the ironclad building program was primarily intended as a strategic balance-of-power play in the cold war against Britain. But it seems to me that in order for this idea to "float," a U.S. ironclad specifications review would be in order. Hope he has included one. Furthermore, the ironclad building program would have to survive the war and as William H. Roberts has shown in Civil War Ironclads, the builders were ruined, the relevant project office was discredited, and the Navy walked away from the new technology. (Just some initial thoughts.)

Old meme alert: Grant scholar Brooks Simpson once mused on what it would be like to switch careers to hack - I'm sorry, a popular - Civil War author. This occurred to me in seeing yet another reworking of his first book by Edward H. Bonekemper, a Grant partisan/essayist who knows how to milk his memes. Expect polemic, an absence of primary sources, and short shrift for the opposing view. I hope he's making loads of money - it would be a shame to contaminate future demand for Grant books for mediocre sales.

Older still: The question of whether the South could have won the war is revisted yet again by an author, Bevin Alexander, who has published a run of speculative history of this sort. From comments I've seen, this is military conjecture exclusively, with the author showing a soft spot for the decisive battle doctrine. The decisive battle question, if you even want to entertain it, would have to play differently for each side, North and South. Alexander sets the bar suspiciously low for the North, imagining, for instance, a capitulation after the occupation of Washington post Bull Run number one.

(These books are being released between tomorrow and the new year and I have not seen them - I am reacting to the publisher's information and reviewers' comments.)