The vandals

There are books in your library in the category "what would you do without it"?

Rowena Reed's Combined Operations in the Civil War is irreplaceable to me. It's deep; it's scholarly; its opinions are pervasive, rich and pungent; it's a powerful invitation to change one's whole view of the war. It's re-readable and referenceable. It's everything I want from a classic.

So what kind of person would assemble a potluck collection of forgettable essays on the same subject and then title it Union Combined Operations in the Civil War? On April 10 such a book was issued. Shame on Fordham University Press.

It's amazing to me the contempt in which Civil War readers are held.

Here's a hack who cranks out at least one naval retelling a year who assumes he can steal the title of Reed's famous book, then wave it in the face of his own reading public with no one the wiser.

What the hell do they know beyond what I tell 'em?

Meanwhile, over there is Dave Eicher in Longest Night who thinks he can take Thomas Livermore's numbers and losses, decimal for decimal, and none of his readers will notice.

Over yonder is Jean Smith in Grant cribbing great long passages of Grant narrative from blockbuster books without expecting the ghost of a chance of the reading public noticing the duplication.

And most glorious in his always eminent prize-worthiness, here is the greatest living McPherson lifting whole sentences out of Archer Jones without a citation for his portrait of Lincoln as commander, then taking key concepts from Clausewitz, spotlighted by Jones and Hattaway, without mentioning Clausewitz. And indeed, what McPherson reader ever on his life would have read Clausewitz or Jones or Hattaway and Jones?

Do you see the pattern here, BTW? It is the Centennialist who seems most likely to defame and insult his own readers. It is the consolidator, the summarizer, the repackager "at work."

And we continue to reward them.

How is this different than knocking over Civil War gravestones?