Goodwin's new honesty

The semi-retired Brian Dirck has been playing peek-a-boo with his readers. Nonetheless, Harry Smeltzer noticed an interesting post on Goodwin in what is supposed to be an inactive blog.

Of more urgency to me is not that Goodwin borrowed her various interpretations of issues from various AL historians (Brian's point), but how she (or her predecessors) could square the cabinet diaries against her core message of cabinet teamwork.

In history it's all about evidence handling, always. You have sins of omission (missed evidence that you didn't know about), sins of commission (suppressed evidence that would injure your meme), and outright atrocities (reversing the evidence - making it say the opposite of what it says).

Team of Rivals is an atrocity. Goodwin knows of the cabinet diaries and portrays a teamwork construct at odds with the diaries (which show isolation, bitterness, frustration towards Lincoln, and sustained contempt towards other cabinet members). The diaries stand in the vital center of the body of primary sources and must be dealt with on their own terms.

Here we meet Brian's observation again and his concern about the lack of acknowledgement of her tutors. Let me add this. Her book not only shows a rich borrowing of others' themes and ideas, look at the end notes - find a secondary source therein. They're damn scarce. The providers of themes and interpretations not only lack mention in the body: you'd be hard pressed to find their books cited at all.

Fingerprints have been removed from the scene. Claims of originality have been staked. Yet, Lincoln authors applaud.

It is possible that in her ten years of writing Goodwin used nothing but primary sources but is it possible that she would arrive at so many well-established opinions without recourse to the works of major scholars? The problem is now exacerbated in her lecturing, where she delivers other people's insights about Lincoln as her if they were her own.

In circumstances like these, one does not look for an "on the other hand" comment - one does not rustle up a few good things to say about Team of Rivals.