View single post by CleburneFan
 Posted: Wed Aug 29th, 2007 12:42 am
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Joined: Mon Oct 30th, 2006
Location: Florida USA
Posts: 1021

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When I buy a history book, I always read the author's preface. Some are pretty boring, just a long listing of names the author is thanking. But writers such as Eric Wittenberg and Dan Petruzzi (co-authors of "Plenty of BLame to Go Around") have more informative comments. They both mention those to whom they have given their manuscript for review, correction, perspective, insight, and suggestions. They both mention how their work was improved by having shared the manuscript ahead of publication.

Other authors do that also. I can't single out names because I share in common with Susan Sweet stacks of books...the ones I've read and don't know where to store and the ones I plan to read and the ones I plan to read again having read other books that changed my thinking about a campaign, battle or general.

Historians who do share manuscripts must be doing so out of academic rigor with the objective of having their books be as close to accurate as a history can be.

I dug out "Manhunt" from my stacks and read Swanson's "Acknowledgments" and his "Bibliography." He acknowledges people with whom he met who helped him with ideas and he mentions sharing his manuscript with Andrea E. Mays, Edward Steers Jr., Lisa Bertagnoli, and James Nash and others all of whom made corrections and additions.  

Swanson's bibliography and notes at forty one pages long are considerably shorter than the same in many of my Civil War history books. Sometimes the bibliography in these books can run to as much as a third of the pages in the book.

Actually the endorsements on history books seem more credible to me than, say, movie endorsements by movie critics especially a couple of TV movie critics I do not hold in high esteem. (I do love Ebert, but even we don't always agree.) 

Pvt Clewell, I think one way to judge the endorsements on a history book cover is to look at the publisher. If the book is published by a company known for the excellence of its previous publications, if that publisher's books have stood up well to the comments of experts on the subject, and if the publisher has attracted a stable of writers known for their own rigorous and exhaustive research and the integrity of their work, then I think you can rely on the endrosements on the cover.

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