Review Policy

7 10 2009

In light of the recent FTC ruling concerning requirements for product reviews, I’ve posted a Review Policy.  I realize that perhaps this ruling doesn’t apply to book reviews, but I’d rather not take the chance.  Check it out and let me know what you think.  Any suggestions are appreciated.

Breaking News – FTC Ruling Affects Bloggers

5 10 2009

OK, have to break a rule here: I don’t typically regurgitate a news item here that originates elsewhere on the web – I just provide a link.  But this is pretty big news for us Civil War bloggers, many of who review books regularly.

FTC: Bloggers must disclose payments for reviews

PHILADELPHIA — The Federal Trade Commission will require bloggers to clearly disclose any freebies or payments they get from companies for reviewing their products.

It is the first time since 1980 that the commission has revised its guidelines on endorsements and testimonials, and the first time the rules have covered bloggers.

But the commission stopped short Monday of specifying how bloggers must disclose any conflicts of interest.

The FTC said its commissioners voted 4-0 to approve the final guidelines, which had been expected. Penalties include up to $11,000 in fines per violation.

The rules take effect Dec. 1.

See here.

Up until recently, most of my reviews have concerned books that I’ve purchased.  Lately I’ve been receiving more unsolicited, free books for review.  I’m not sure that I’ve been clear when those are reviews of books I’ve received in this manner.  When I say I received a book for review, that means I didn’t buy it.  But I guess I need to come up with some sort of stock comment that states the case more clearly – I don’t want a “free” book to end up costing me $11,000.

See NYT article here.

Books and More Books

25 09 2009

41YejDu4b9L__SL500_AA240_Today’s mail brought seven, count ’em, seven new books for review.  One is for a full review in Civil War Times; five are for my regular Six-Pack column in America’s Civil War (in a departure, I’ll review five new books and only one older, but that one is among my all time favorite biographies); and one for this blog, fellow blogger John Hoptak’s own Our Boys Did Nobly, pictured at left.  As the subtitle says, this 345 page paperback is the story of Schuylkill County, PA Soldiers at the battles of South Mountain and Antietam.  I just flipped through it, and see that Mannie Gentile has put art back into maps!  I’m gonna move John’s book up to second on my list, right after Suzy Barile’s Undaunted Hearts.  Thanks for the nice inscription, John!

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Recent Arrivals

14 09 2009

Publishers don’t send a ton of books for review here, but when they do they seem to do it in bunches.  Over the past few weeks I’ve received three, and since I’m not sure exactly when I’ll get to them I think it’s fair to give you a little information on them in the meantime.  I’ll discuss them here in order of receipt.

A-Separate-CountryA Separate Country  is by Robert Hicks, author of the bestseller The Widow of the South.  The novel centers around the life of John Bell Hood in post-war New Orleans.  But skimming through the book I get the idea that this is something other than a simple imagination of Hood’s life, as it seems to be told from several perspectives and is maybe something of a mystery.  Forty reviewers on Amazon average to a little over three out of five stars.

The-Mule-ShoeThe Mule Shoe  has the potential to be really interesting in a good way, or really interesting in a train-wreck way.  It’s a novel by Perry Trouche, a Charleston, SC shrink.  It appears to be an examination of a fictional rebel soldier as he descends into, well, I want to say psychosis but will probably wind up being lashed for my imprecision.  The bulk of the book is set against the fighting at Spotsylvania, where the voices in the protagonist Conner’s head and his visions force a resolution. 

Undaunted-HeartLast is Undaunted Heart, by Suzy Barile, an English and journalism instructor in North Carolina and the great-great-granddaughter of Ella Swain Atkins and General Smith Dykins Atkins, the subjects of her non-fiction study.  Atkins was in command of a brigade of William Sherman’s cavalry that occupied Chapel Hill, NC after the surrender of Joseph Johnston’s army at Bennett Place; Ella was the daughter of the president of the University of North Carolina.  They did some courtin’ & sparkin’ and were married, much to the chagrin of many.  I have heard some of the basics of their courtship and marriage before, but Undaunted Heart promises to tell the rest of the story.

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America’s Civil War – November 2009

1 09 2009

ACW-Nov-2009Inside the November 2009 issue of America’s Civil War magazine:Ron Soodalter’s Fury in Vermont, the cover story on the 1864 Confederate raid on St. Albans;  Gordon Berg takes a look at Ambrose Bierce’s series of stories on Chickamauga, and tries to separate fact from fiction; Tamela Baker’s article is on Sweet Subversive Scribes, three female journalists in Virginia who published the pro-Union Waterford News; John Stauffer contributes an adaptation of their new and controversial book , The State of Jones (see here for some spirited discussion ofthe book); and Jonathan A. Noyalas writes of the return of  “Sheridan’s Veterans’ Association” to the Shenandoah Valley in 1883.

My Six-Pack column this time technically featured five new books and one old, though one of the new books is really a new paperback release of an eleven-year-old work.  No Holier Spot of Ground: Confederate Monuments & Cemeteries of South Carolina is paired with Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.The Maps of First Bull Run with Gettysburg Day Two: A Study in Maps; and in a departure from the usual format, two new releases are reviewed together, General George H. Thomas: A Biography of the Union’s “Rock of Chickamauga” and Master of War: The Life of General George H. Thomas.

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War Like the Thunderbolt

28 07 2009

51lkliy3G4L__SS500_I received a bound galley of Russell Bonds’s upcoming study of the battle and burning of Atlanta, War Like the Thunderbolt, set for release on September 2, 2009.  I told Russell that I would look it over and give it the review-in-brief treatment.  But several forces have converged to alter that plan.  For one thing, I’m finishing up Volume I of Lincoln’s Collected Works; some of that has been mind-numbing, and I just don’t have it in me to jump right into volume II.  (I’m also reading Four Brother’s in Blue, and that thing is endless – good, but endless.)  For another, I’m not very well read on the Atlanta Campaign; I have all the standard works – except for that old Savas two volume essay collection, I’d like to get my hands on that – but haven’t got around to reading them.  Also, after flipping through the book (somebody needs to explain the difference between an uncorrected proof, an advanced reading copy, and a bound galley), I like the style.  It looks very readable, and I’m thinking it shouldn’t take too long.  I’ll report back to you when I’m finished.  In the meantime you may want to look into Russell’s critically acclaimed Stealing the General.

America’s Civil War – September 2009

10 07 2009

ACW-Sept-09As the 150th anniversary of his raid on Harper’s Ferry approaches, the September 2009 issue of America’s Civil War features John Brown on the cover.  Inside, related articles include the cover story by Tim Rowland, a timeline of slavery in North America; a look at David Hunter’s struggle to raise the all black 1st SC Volunteers (to be commanded by Brown “conspirator” Thomas Wentworth Higginson) by Tom Huntingdon; and a recounting of VMI instructor Thomas Jackson’s role in the hanging of Brown at Charlestown.90th-PA

Fellow blogger Mannie Gentile contributed a nice article on one of the most interesting regimental monuments on any battlefield, that of the 90th PA Volunteer Infantry at Antietam (at right is a photo I took of the replica monument  not long after its dedication in 2004).  Check out Mannie’s essay on the historiography of George B. McClellan here.

Also in this issue: Jared Frederick on Altoona, PA’s loyal governor’s conference in 1862; Daniel E. Sutherland on Missouri guerrillas; and a convincing letter from Doug Garnett (no relation) in Canada refutes an earlier identification of a photograph of the elusive Richard Brooke Garnett.

My contribution in Six-Pack has five new books and one old,  Bruce Allardice’s Kentuckians in Gray is paired with Josie Underwood’s Civil War Diary, edited by Nancy Baird; John Schmutz’s The Battle of the Crater: a Complete History with Richard Slotkin’s No Quarter: The Battle of the Crater, 1864; and Invisible Hero: Patrick R. Cleburne by Bruce Stewart with 1997’s Stonewall of the West: Patrick Cleburne & the Civil War by Craig Symonds.


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