News and Notes, November 14, 2012

A tour around and about uncovered the following:

  • Andy Hall’s causing trouble again. In a post that I thought would draw far more attention than it has, he explores the possibility that Jefferson Davis’s son joined the United States Navy. How can that be, you ask? Well, read the piece.
  • I’d been waiting to hear what Dimitri Rotov thought of my new book, The Civil War in the East (which will be coming out in paperback next year from Potomac Books).  Wait no more:

At about 176 pages, this is what a short history is meant to be: erudite, pungent, interesting, integrative, analytical, and engaging for deep readers already familiar with the material. I cannot think of another short history that lives up this purpose, although publishers keep issuing them. A great many controversies and issues are compressed throughout and that requires reader trust. It’s a lot to ask for from strangers. Myself, having seen Simpson handle evidence on a great many issues on USENET years ago, I’ll vouch for him, if that nudges you towards a good read. His justice to the record tends towards exceptional, although it is not transparent in this brief format. Some of his characterizations may irritate, but consider that the tax you pay for a top notch essay written for sophisticates like yourselves. It’s a nice concentrate of the whole Simpsonian gestalt. This is a major author in a field generally bereft of major authors and Simpson is always worth your time.

  • Dimitri suggests that other reviewers concur with my overall assessment of H. W. Brands’s new Grant biography.
  • We have a new blog out there: Bummer. Civil War Bummer, to be exact.
  • Speaking of books that will appear next year, try this.
  • A useful reminder of the pitfalls of political prognostication by a fellow blogger whose politics blinded him to facts (how ironic).  See here and here.

12 thoughts on “News and Notes, November 14, 2012

  1. John Foskett November 14, 2012 / 8:05 am

    I saw that highly positive (and well-deserved) evaluation on Dimitri’s blog. Now you need to test him by coming out with a savage attack on McClellan based on his “letters” to Ellen and skeptically asking him where McClellan’s notorious September 5, 1862 “orders” to Pope may be found in the OR (I kid.., well, sort of…….).

  2. James F. Epperson November 14, 2012 / 1:43 pm

    Or Brooks could comment on Mac’s late June (1862) boat rides …

    Thanks for the links to William’s blog. I liked reading that.

  3. Brad November 14, 2012 / 5:50 pm

    Does Dmitri evaluate everything based on McClellan. He showed a definite dislike for the new Seward bio but it got great reviews from Michael Burlingame in the WSJ.

    • John Foskett November 15, 2012 / 7:55 am

      I believe that he validly uses McClellan as a teaching tool to show that a lot of published Civil War history reflects poor research/comprehension, uses unsupported assumptions and biases, etc. With McClellan, however, I think he occasionally tries to steal second on a pitch-out.

  4. rcocean November 14, 2012 / 7:37 pm

    Sorry Andy, I stopped at the “enslaved person” nonsense. I assume you’re stating Davis’ son was an African-American etc. etc. which I don’t believe since no DNA test was performed and Davis wasn’t the type to sire a Slave love child.

    And I hate Davis!. I think he should have been hung after the war for about six different reasons.

    • Andy Hall November 14, 2012 / 9:30 pm

      Believe whatever you want. I’m sorry you couldn’t be bothered to read the whole post, but then I don’t write for people who give up halfway through the first sentence.

      • Bummer November 15, 2012 / 10:52 am

        Good call Andy. Folks seem to assume what the author is thinking, rather than what the researcher is sharing. Kevin Levin suffered from a similar experience lately and even an unscholarly type like me gets it.


      • rcocean November 15, 2012 / 3:46 pm

        “There’s enough here that the claim of Davis’ natural son having served aboard a Union gunboat cannot, in my view, be dismissed out-of-hand as Civil War tabloid trash.”

        Well in my view it can be dismissed at tabloid trash. There is no proof in the story, and the idea that its all been suppressed for 150 years is quite unbelievable. But then some people believe Elvis is still alive.

        • Brooks D. Simpson November 15, 2012 / 3:53 pm

          Andy Hall is fairly careful with his research, so I would not dismiss what he says out of hand. It might be worth more discussion.

    • R E Watson November 15, 2012 / 8:59 am

      “hanged” ! It’s “hanged” not hung. Oh well, maybe ?? 😉

  5. Bummer November 15, 2012 / 11:15 am

    Just finished, The Man Who Saved the Union:Ulysses Grant In War and Peace/H.W. Brands, an easy read, however nothing new. My favorite so far is, The Complete Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant/Ulysses S. Grant, I’m headed to Amazon for a U.S. Grant by Brooks D. Simpson, any ideas?


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