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William Blair and Civil War history

I am sorry for the negative vibes that my brief summary may have given to William Blair's half-hour talk. What he was saying was that most mainstream academics now shy away from becoming Civil War historians, because they have the mistaken opinion that Civil War history is all "drums and bugles." As a result, most new work on the Civil War is being written by non-academically trained historians - I think he used the term "so-called amateur historians" because he recognizes that the word "amateur" is often used pejoratively, and I think he was trying to distance himself from the pejorative sense of the word (but I did not communicate that very well in my summary!). His dismay is that some of (or much of - I do not remember which he said) the work of non-professional historians is "revisionist" by his definition - and although he did not say it, I think it was pretty clear from the context that he was talking about the neo-Confederate style history.

As I understood it, the estimated 60,00 volumes published on the Civil War includes books by all authors, not just scholarly historians.

William Blair is associate professor of history and director of the Civil War Era Center at Penn State, and editor of the journal, Civil War History. His latest book is Cities of the Dead: Contesting the Memory of the Civil War in the South, 1865-1914, which looks at the conflict over Memorial Days and Emancipation Days. I plan to check out that book, since the May 29 Emancipation Day celebration at Thomaston, Georgia, is one of my hot topics.

18 Dec 2002 :: 14 Nov 2008
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