There’s been a lot of talk lamenting the apparent (or maybe not so apparent) demise of North & South magazine. I’m not one of those talking about it, because frankly I wrote that publication off a long time ago. The simple fact that articles include footnotes does not make those articles compelling, convincing, or even good. I used to subscribe to N&S, but have not for at least the past year. The magazine fired its editor, the very capable Terry Johnston, lost control of its on-line discussion group by “firing” its unpaid and also very capable monitors, increasingly ran extracts of previously published works as articles, and resorted to endless and meaningless “top ten” round table discussions. It just wasn’t for me anymore.
But for all you folks looking for stimulating discussion of Civil War topics, there is good news in the April 2009 issue of Civil War Times. This magazine has really stepped things up. In this issue you’ll find a great article by friend Tom Clemens on the “original” Iron Brigade (if you are a round table program director and want to book Tom for his wonderful program on this, let me know and I’ll get word to him); Gary Gallagher defends his approach to his studies in a column titled “Let the Chips Fall Where They Will“; Peter Carmichael interviews Prof. Lesley Gordon; and heavyweights Michael Fellman and Mark Neely face off over whether or not the Civil War was a “Total War”.
Editor Dana Shoaf spoke last summer to the Society of Civil War Historians in Philadelphia on the need for academic historians to use outlets like popular periodicals, even without footnotes, to deliver the fruits of their research to the starving masses (I wrote about it here). It looks like his talk is paying off – all six of the historians mentioned above were at the conference in Philly.