I’m mortified to find that I have not made a new posting here in nearly a week, and can only fall back on the upcoming Christmas holiday as a partial excuse. And I realize that the last couple of posts may have been a little confusing, particularly the title of one of them. The best way to handle this may be to make a few posts on the cryptic topic that began with Monster in a Box. Now, I’m painfully aware of the fact that I’m just some guy – I hold no degree in history, I’m not an “expert” on the Civil War in general or on one battle or personality in particular, and my published (print) work consists of one long letter to the editor of North & South magazine and an article of similar length in an upcoming issue of America’s Civil War magazine. But I do have some thoughts on how historians and authors have presented the “stories” of the Civil War, and this is my blog and nobody can stop me from writing about them.
The “distraction” I experienced as a result of reading Gary Wills’ Henry Adams and the Making of America had nothing to do with the fact that the book covers events not directly associated with the campaign and battle of First Bull Run but rather with a part of the book’s thesis, that historians have misinterpreted and misrepresented Adams’ work. In this respect, Wills’ book is directly associated not only with the study of First Bull Run but with the study of any subject of history.
So here’s how these next few posts will go. In short, I’ll explain the title to the post Camelot, Harsh, Littlefield, Reardon, Paired Sales Analysis, Wills, and Henry Adams. All of those people and things help in describing these disorganized thoughts on how history is sometimes presented. Hopefully through this process I’ll be able to straighten all this out in my head. For now, and in no particular order, the points I hope to cover are:
1. Evaluating decisions based on available data as opposed to results.
2. The importance of chronology.
3. The problems with biography – the failure of biographers to front load.
4. The effects of memory, and what is meant by memory.
5. Evaluating sources.
6. Uncritical acceptance.
7. Working backwards from a diagnosis.
Check back in later – I hope to put this behind me soon!