View single post by samhood
 Posted: Mon Nov 10th, 2008 01:22 am
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Joined: Tue Sep 6th, 2005
Location: West Virginia USA
Posts: 55

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The cut-and-paste histriography that I accuse Sword of isn't taking only selected material from earlier TN Campaign authors, but from the historical records...the Official Records, and memoirs and diaries of veterans. Without exception, Sword WILL NOT include any testimony or documentation supportive of Hood in his books. 

However, speaking of earlier authors, I've read all the books on the TN Campaign in sequence, starting with Thomas Hay, then Stanley Horn, then Thomas Connelly, and then Sword (and Groom, which was published around the same time.)  From Hay through Horn, each book treats Hood increasingly harsher, or you could say, decreasingly respectful. In my opinion the reason was that each author had to give some differing presentation and interpretation on the previous books, all written from essentually the same set of historical records.

As I said in my earlier post, I have no problem with Hood's generalship being criticized, which is what Hay and Horn did.  Connelly took some relatively mild shots at Hood's character, but Sword went overboard, calling Hood the child "an ill-mannered hellion"; Hood the West Point cadet as managing to "prod and squirm his way" through school; Hood the army commander as "a fool with a license to kill his own men" and Hood the postwar father as having sired a large family solely to prove to the world that he was no "lame lover" due to his war wounds. Is this historiography?

The cut-and-paste scholarship that Sword engages in and to which I alluded is undeniable and a matter of fact.  On many occasions Sword takes excerpts and testimony from a specific memoirist, uses a comment to support one of his (Sword's)unflattering assertions, when elsewhere in the memoir are comments counter to Sword's negative assertion, which he conceals from the reader. Hay, Horn and Connelly did not engage in this conduct.

Here is my opinion...and it is just an opinion. Sword wanted to write a book on the TN Campaign, and since several earlier books had been written on the subject, he had to come up with some new twist...his own schtik. So what he decided was to fabricate a story of a conniving, treacherous, drug addicted, lovelorn, megalomaniacal commander who, denied the glory of an undeserved victory, slaughtered his own troops in a fit of rage. What Sword did was basically write a historical novel, much like the 1990s mega-hit movie "Titanic" where a sappy fictional love story was blended with a tragic historic event, resulting in a commercial blockbuster.

Now fully invested professionally in the desecration of John Bell Hood's legacy, Wiley Sword is seemingly sticking to his story, come hell or high water. But he has painted himself into a corner, and the more material he writes like the Hood essay in Courage Under Fire, the more he exposes himself as a compromised historian.  

Last edited on Mon Nov 10th, 2008 03:12 pm by samhood

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