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 Posted: Sun Nov 9th, 2008 06:38 pm
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formeryank
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ole wrote: Sword is quite famous for his bent against John Bell Hood. What is your excuse for getting upset about it?
Greetings,

I find this comment puzzling, no offense.

History is about nothing if it isn't vigorously based in truth and accuracy. All students of history should be deeply concerned about truthfulness in books and articles, especially about the Civil War which we all are so passionate about.

I've been a student of the Civil War for over 30 years. I am deeply passionate about it, and care very much about accuracy in historiography.

Sam Hood's passionate defense of General Hood is not based only upon the fact that General Hood has been unfairly maligned in popular history, most famously in Sword's "Confederacy's Last Hurrah". This defense of Hood in history is long overdue and is a discussion that is important in understanding the Civil War and the War in the West in particular. Sam Hood's defense of Hood is a defense of excellence in Civil War studies, a defense of accuracy, and an indictment of agenda-driven untruths.

This discussion is all the more important because of the visibility that Sword has in the marketplace. In most bookstores, his is the only book on the Franklin and Nashville campaign. The fact, clearly proven by Sam Hood and others, that Mr. Sword is egregiously false and misleading in his treatment of General Hood merits the kind of defense that Sam Hood and others have presented. Sam makes the case quite clearly, as does Eric Jacobson in his recent excellent treatment on Spring Hill and Nashville that there is no historical evidence to confirm the portrayal of General Hood as presented by Sword. If there is no evidence to support Sword's portrayal, and the record shows actually that Sword is wrong, then what is Sword's portrayal of General Hood at Franklin other than fiction. The evils of fictionalizing historical events and persons and presenting such portrayals as scholarship is too obvious a point to merit further discussion on the point here.

As students of history isn't the pursuit of truth the foundation of our world? Do we need an "excuse" to defend a person who has been wrongly characterized and maligned for present and future generations? I think that most students of history want our heroes and villains to be dealt with fairly and accurately. Mr. Sword has not been fair with General Hood - the record must be corrected.

Sam Hood is  doing the Civil War community and everyone who cares about the pursuit of truth in history a great service; one never needs "an excuse" to set the record straight. To suggest such a thing is bizarre to me.

Sam's passion in setting the record straight is one that I share. I applaud him for his research and his efforts.

Agenda-driven history ...isn't.

Wiley Sword's attacks on General Hood are not supported by the facts. Therefore, his approach is agenda-driven opinion and is not valid history. If his discussion of Hood at Franklin and Nashville and elsewhere are conclusions based on Sword's agenda of criticizing Hood the result is not good history - it is bad scholarship. If Sword is wrong about Hood at Franklin, what else is he wrong about? Such a profound misrepresentation of General Hood at Franklin puts the entire book to question.

Sword is an excellent writer, but his "scholarship" regarding Hood is not accurate. The record must be corrected, and we all, as students of history and passionate defenders of truth should support all such corrections. That is what historical debate is all about. If one has a position and an opinion one ought to support them with facts. If there are no facts to support them, the result is a novel or a bad book of history. This is what Sword has done. Sam Hood's fight to correct the record should be applauded by everyone in the historical community. One doesn't need an excuse to defend the truth. It's the right thing to do in and of itself.

One doesn't need an "excuse" for getting "upset" about bad scholarship.

All interested historians and students should get "upset" when historians like Sword, and now McCullough, go astray. It's a serious matter and can only undermine scholarship.

Folks like Sword confuse the subject, muddle it up, and break the trust that readers have with historians. This is why we should all get upset. If folks don't care about this kind of thing... well, they're not really historians and they're not really about the truth.

Best Regards,
Daniel Mallock
Civil War student and pursuer of truth

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