My Final Four: Historians Whose Writing Influenced Me

At the end of the year people like to offer lists.  Some of these lists involve ranking “the best” books of the year.  Others take the opportunity to list “the best” books for a certain field.  I’m not inclined to follow suit, for a very simple reason: too many people confuse “the best” with “my favorite.”  Now, there.s nothing wrong with listing what books you really liked, and telling us why.  But labeling those books “the best” can get a bit problematic.  In at least one ‘the best” list I saw a book that was simply terrible.  What’s a blogger supposed to do?  Explain why the book is terrible and imply something about the list maker’s judgment or intelligence?  I’d rather not go there.

However, I have no problem listing four historians whose work has influenced me in my evolution into a historian.  Not all of these authors are Civil War historians.  I never met any of these people except through their work.  Nor can I say that I always embrace their interpretations.  Nevertheless, They’ve been influential in ways worth mentioning.

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