The title of this post is a mouthful, and makes sense to no one but me. And I’m not really sure it makes sense to me yet, either. All of the above have something to do with one of the first posts I wanted to make on this blog, and also with why I have yet to make it. Basically I want to lay out what motivates me in my study of history in general and the American Civil War in particular, and what I see as problems with the approaches taken by some historians, authors, and students in analyzing actions taken and decisions made. Keep in mind that I am not a trained historian: my undergraduate and post-graduate degrees are in business, and I earn my living as a real estate appraiser and teacher. So this “philosophy”, as it were, is mine and mine alone.
But I’m having a real problem putting these thoughts together in a way that will be accurate and meaningful. And every couple of days something happens or I read or hear something that I think would be appropriate for inclusion. Everything in the title of this post has caused me to pause, the most recent distraction being Garry Wills’ Henry Adams and the Making of America. In this book, Wills reveals how the uncritical acceptance of prior historians’ evaluations and characterizations of Adams’ multi-volume history of early 19th Century America has resulted in a widespread misunderstanding and misrepresentation of that work. I’ve only read about 100 pages (I’m a very slow reader), but so far I have to say this is one fine book, very well researched, written, and argued.
So the long and the short of it is that I have yet to finish the post in question, but I’m previewing it here to spur myself on. I’m still influenced by traditional print in that I feel my post should be fully formed and self contained, and I think this wastes some of what makes this medium unique and valuable. Bear with me.