The blight on nonfiction

Had lunch with a fellow whose intense interest is outside of Civil War history. In his own field of interest, he's writing a book to bring a whole new perspective on a famous episode in U.S. history. In the meantime, he's publishing reviews of other people's books on his favored subject. These other books are making him crazy.

As I shared with him the typical sins of the Civil War writer, he matched me story for story, sin for sin. I was a little surprised but not a lot.

He had an author's work in hand that almost reached ACW levels of malpractice. I said, call her out.

(1) She belongs to a specific school of history and interpretation and she failed to disclose that to the reader.

(2) Her citations are selectively derived from that school of thought's truncated bibliography.

(3) That makes her own bibliography woefully incomplete.

(4) Her work is entirely derivative but she fails to acknowledge her inspirations.

(5) I bet money she has phrases, sentences, maybe paragraphs lifted from her readings.

(6) Publish tables showing her "borrowings."

(7) Point out all the new research, evidence, and analysis that has been excluded from her work.

(8) Point out all the arguments that counter hers that she fails to address or acknowledge.

(9) Suggest that she has entered a field of controversy while pretending controversy does not exist and contested issues are "settled science."

(10) Suggest that a fresh approach, such as in your forthcoming book, is the approach that is needed.

If you set number 10 aside, how many of these points apply to any of your recent ACW readings? Too many, probably.