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RE: [Revlist] Re: British views on reenacting

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  • Steve Rayner
    Hi David; That s an interesting thought, too. I see footage of a guy ploughing a field with nothing to look at but a southern view of a northbound ox, and I
    Message 1 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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      Hi David;

      That's an interesting thought, too. I see footage of a guy ploughing a field
      with nothing to look at but a southern view of a northbound ox, and I think
      of 18th century lads song the same thing from dawn to dusk. No wonder they
      so often volunteered for the army!

      Similarly, many people today enjoy weaving. But again, one sees the work
      being and it is no wonder why former weavers (and other textile trades) made
      up a significant part of the British Infantry. It takes a special kind of
      dedication to work at a loom - and a lot of patience.

      Cheers,

      Steve Rayner

      >From: "davidmckissack" <david.mckissack@...>
      >Reply-To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
      >To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [Revlist] Re: British views on reenacting
      >Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 21:01:33 -0000
      >
      >Right. When I was in the Peace Corps, the biggest reason people
      >terminated early was they got bored living and working at 18th
      >century speed. Slowing your mind down to that pace is a huge
      >challenge. Yet that's the pace most of "them" (the people we portray)
      >lived with.
      >
      >Cheers,
      >Dave McKissack
      >
      >2nd NC -- The Carolina Brigade
      >
      > "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
      >admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Tar Bluff, SC,
      >27 Aug 1782.
      >

      _________________________________________________________________
      http://imagine-windowslive.com/hotmail/?locale=en-us&ocid=TXT_TAGHM_migration_HM_mini_pcmag_0507
    • Joseph Malit
      Did anyone bother to check Staunton s credentials? He s an ECONOMIC historian. As such, while he is certainly entitled to his opinion, it should carry no more
      Message 2 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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        Did anyone bother to check Staunton's credentials?
        He's an ECONOMIC historian. As such, while he is
        certainly entitled to his opinion, it should carry no
        more weight than anyone else's and much LESS weight
        than the opinion of any competent re-enactor.

        Now if he were an art historian, a museum curator, or
        an archaeologist I might tend to grant him a little
        more credence. I wonder if Staunton has even HEARD of
        the concept of experimental archaeology?

        What we do, or claim to do, in re-enacting is create a
        living tableau of an historical epoch. As such, it is
        not in principle different from what ANY museum does
        when it sets up a room display. Sure, there are
        re-enactors who are sub-standard, but there are also
        "professional academic historians" who are talentless
        hacks, and I'm sure Staunton would not want us to lump
        him in with them.

        I doubt that Staunton has really given much thought to
        what we do at all, otherwise he would not use such
        absurd terms as "pretending" or "dressing up." The
        interviewer probably just picked his name out of a
        phone book. Oh, lookee here, an "academic historian"!
        Well, golly gee, I guess we'd all better be suitably
        impressed.

        If economics is "the dismal science" what can we infer
        about economic historians.

        Joseph Malit
        I-R von Donop


        __________________________________ Alles was der Gesundheit und Entspannung dient. BE A BETTER MEDIZINMANN! www.yahoo.de/clever
      • edkennedy18thc@aim.com
        ... From: davidmckissack To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com Sent: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 5:01 pm Subject: [Revlist] Re: British views on
        Message 3 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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          -----Original Message-----
          From: davidmckissack <david.mckissack@...>
          To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
          Sent: Wed, 1 Aug 2007 5:01 pm
          Subject: [Revlist] Re: British views on reenacting










          <<Right. When I was in the Peace Corps, the biggest reason people
          terminated early was they got bored living and working at 18th
          century speed. Slowing your mind down to that pace is a huge
          challenge. Yet that's the pace most of "them" (the people we portray)
          lived with.

          Cheers,
          Dave McKissack>>



          Looking at this from a 21st C, US perspective I am reminded of an
          organization that I worked with for several years.? As part of the
          initial training there was a questionnaire that asked if the person
          would know how to handle a large number of divergent tasks,

          e.g. Keep your laundry from being stolen at the laundromat.

          ?????? Arrange for your second home to have the refrigerator stocked
          and the servants on duty with ??? ?????? only a three day notice.


          The point was that you were apt to be working with a range of
          socioeconomic persons with far ranging? backgrounds.? Could you? do it??? Most
          people? have? a? rather limited? experience in dealing with? this
          variety of backgrounds.
          This was a sorting out exercise but was there to point how limited our personal experience is.

          ?







          Ed Kennedy
          1st Co'y, Herrick's Regt.








          ________________________________________________________________________
          Check Out the new free AIM(R) Mail -- Unlimited storage and industry-leading spam and email virus protection.


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        • Sgt42RHR@aol.com
          Dave, That was certainly true when I was a PCV in the Philippines (Group 38, 1970-72). If you couldn t adjust to that mind set, it was frustrating. A
          Message 4 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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            Dave,

            That was certainly true when I was a PCV in the Philippines (Group 38,
            1970-72). If you couldn't adjust to that mind set, it was frustrating. A number
            of our group did leave early on, because they felt like they were not getting
            anything done. I remember the first week we were in our town and I asked
            the mini-bus driver...When does this bus go to Cuyan? His response..."when
            it's full." I learned a lot that week!

            Cheers,
            John


            david.mckissack@... writes:

            Right. When I was in the Peace Corps, the biggest reason people
            terminated early was they got bored living and working at 18th
            century speed. Slowing your mind down to that pace is a huge
            challenge. Yet that's the pace most of "them" (the people we portray)
            lived with.

            Cheers,
            Dave McKissack




            John M. Johnston,
            42d Grenr. Compy.

            "There is a fine line between hobby and mental illness." Dave Barry



            ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
            http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour


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          • Sgt42RHR@aol.com
            A point made very well about both the Continental and Brtish army by the author of the new book, Patriot Battles. Great read incidentally--a mile wide and an
            Message 5 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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              A point made very well about both the Continental and Brtish army by the
              author of the new book, Patriot Battles. Great read incidentally--a mile wide
              and an inch deep, but it does a good job of exploring (and exploding) many
              myths held by the public (and not a few reenactors).

              Cheers,
              John

              steverayner@... writes:

              I see footage of a guy ploughing a field
              with nothing to look at but a southern view of a northbound ox, and I think
              of 18th century lads song the same thing from dawn to dusk. No wonder they
              so often volunteered for the army!





              John M. Johnston,
              42d Grenr. Compy.

              "There is a fine line between hobby and mental illness." Dave Barry



              ************************************** Get a sneak peek of the all-new AOL at
              http://discover.aol.com/memed/aolcom30tour


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • Patrick O'Kelley
              Howdy, ... what people ... lifestyles of ... prevail in ... You would be surprised as to how much of the world does reenactments. For example, there are quite
              Message 6 of 22 , Aug 1, 2007
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                Howdy,

                > Thanks for the very thought-provoking post. I've often wondered
                what people
                > from under-developed nations would think of historical re-enacting,
                > considering that many of the social conditions, culture and
                lifestyles of
                > eras that re-enactors (including us) purport to depict, still
                prevail in
                > many parts of the world.

                You would be surprised as to how much of the world does
                reenactments. For example, there are quite a few in Mexico. I know
                they reenact the Battle of Puebla, that created "Cinco de Mayo".
                I have also seen reenactments of ancient battles in Pakistan and
                Egypt. What better way to flaunt your history, than to relive it.
                Even Rome reenacted their famous battles in the Coliseum.
                If you want to go to the simplest forms, tribal folks reenact
                famous hunts or battles around their campfires, through song, dance
                or storytelling.

                Patrick O'Kelley
                2nd North Carolina Regiment http://www.2nc.org/
                The Carolina Brigade http://www.carolinabrigade.org/
                Author of "Nothing but Blood and Slaughter" and Francis Marion's
                Orderly book
                Available at http://bluehousetavern.com/
              • rgrpuck
                RIGHT on target Dave. That is my biggest challenge every day here. My counterpart asks me if a problem can be solved in Afghan time or American time . What
                Message 7 of 22 , Aug 2, 2007
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                  RIGHT on target Dave. That is my biggest challenge every day here.
                  My counterpart asks me if a problem can be solved in "Afghan time or
                  American time". What takes us a day to complete can take months in
                  this place.

                  Bert Puckett
                  IISC



                  --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "davidmckissack"
                  <david.mckissack@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > Right. When I was in the Peace Corps, the biggest reason people
                  > terminated early was they got bored living and working at 18th
                  > century speed. Slowing your mind down to that pace is a huge
                  > challenge. Yet that's the pace most of "them" (the people we
                  portray)
                  > lived with.
                  >
                  > Cheers,
                  > Dave McKissack
                  >
                  > 2nd NC -- The Carolina Brigade
                  >
                  > "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
                  > admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Tar Bluff,
                  SC,
                  > 27 Aug 1782.
                  >
                  >
                  > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Will Tatum" <albemarle@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > Steve,
                  > > That is a point I always raise in my classes when asking
                  students
                  > > to define the "modern world" and "modernity." They automatically
                  > > think of western society, 1st world countries, and it gives them
                  > > pause to consider that a large chunk of the world is still
                  living
                  > in
                  > > the early modern period, for all intents and purposes.
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > Yr Svt,
                  > > Wm Tatum
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > >
                  > > --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Rayner" <steverayner@>
                  > > wrote:
                  > > >
                  > > > Hi Will;
                  > > >
                  > > > Thanks for the very thought-provoking post. I've often
                  wondered
                  > > what people
                  > > > from under-developed nations would think of historical re-
                  > enacting,
                  > > > considering that many of the social conditions, culture and
                  > > lifestyles of
                  > > > eras that re-enactors (including us) purport to depict, still
                  > > prevail in
                  > > > many parts of the world.
                  > > >
                  > > > Best Regards,
                  > > >
                  > > > Steve Rayner
                  > > >
                  > > > >From: "Will Tatum" <albemarle@>
                  > > > >Reply-To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                  > > > >To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                  > > > >Subject: [Revlist] British views on reenacting
                  > > > >Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 13:47:09 -0000
                  > > > >
                  > > > >All,
                  > > > > Two views on reenacting from the Brits- one from a
                  > > > >medieval "squire" and one from a professional academic
                  historian.
                  > > > >What do you all think?
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > >http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/6924090.stm
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > >Alan says that such events and re-enactments are vital.
                  > > > >
                  > > > >"In terms of living history, maintaining and demonstrating
                  > > technology
                  > > > >and skills that would otherwise be lost, it's invaluable. Re-
                  > > > >enactment needs to be primarily entertainment but historically
                  > > > >correct."
                  > > > >
                  > > > >But Professor Martin Daunton, of the Royal Historical
                  Society,
                  > says
                  > > > >that while re-enactments can help children gain an
                  understanding
                  > > of -
                  > > > >and excitement for - history, for adults it is little more
                  than a
                  > > > >hobby.
                  > > > >
                  > > > >"Pretending to be a knight isn't going to give a sense of the
                  > lousy
                  > > > >food, the place, the constant threat of death and the total
                  > boredom
                  > > > >that was part and parcel of that life. Dressing up as a
                  > Roundhead
                  > > is
                  > > > >not going to give an understanding of Puritanism or the
                  religious
                  > > > >divisions of the 17th Century.
                  > > > >
                  > > > >"For children, dressing up is a way to engage with the past -
                  so
                  > > long
                  > > > >as they are given further opportunities to think about what
                  > > > >conditions were like. It can't be done in isolation."
                  > > > >
                  > > > >
                  > > > >Yr Svt,
                  > > > >Wm Tatum
                  > > > >
                  > > >
                  > > >
                  _________________________________________________________________
                  > > > http://imagine-windowslive.com/hotmail/?locale=en-
                  > > us&ocid=TXT_TAGHM_migration_HM_mini_pcmag_0507
                  > > >
                  > >
                  >
                • davidmckissack
                  ... Until you ve been bored out of your ever-loving mind, day after day, week after week, you have no idea of the significance of that 18th c. term
                  Message 8 of 22 , Aug 2, 2007
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                    --- In Revlist@yahoogroups.com, "Steve Rayner" <steverayner@...>
                    wrote:
                    >
                    > Hi David;
                    >
                    > I see footage of a guy
                    > ploughing a field with nothing to look at but a southern view of a
                    > northbound ox, and I think of 18th century lads song the same thing
                    > from dawn to dusk. No wonder they so often volunteered for the army!

                    Until you've been bored out of your ever-loving mind, day after day,
                    week after week, you have no idea of the significance of that 18th c.
                    term "diversion."

                    I think you are right, Steve, about lots of lads joining the army for
                    adventure. On the other hand, there's a lot of evidence that troops
                    in later stages joined for economic reasons, too.

                    > Similarly, many people today enjoy weaving. But again, one sees the
                    > work being and it is no wonder why former weavers (and other
                    > textile trades) made up a significant part of the British Infantry.
                    > It takes a special kind of dedication to work at a loom - and a lot
                    > of patience.

                    I recently read an interview where an Appalachian woman in her 80's
                    who spoke of how all 10 kids in her family were expected to take
                    their turn at the boring work of sitting at the family loom. She
                    hated it. Another woman said basketweaving "takes a settled mind."

                    I've been harvesting lots of beans and peas out of my garden lately.
                    I haven't grown beans and peas in years, and harvesting them, as well
                    as helping my wife prepare them for non-microwave cooking, has been a
                    very slow, laborious process (by 21st c. standards). Modern society
                    is losing touch with who "they" were at the speed of light. Yet, we
                    pretend to judge them with increasing frequency.

                    John said -- "I remember the first week we were in our town and I
                    asked the mini-bus driver...When does this bus go to Cuyan? His
                    response..."when it's full."

                    Right. And how many 18th c. folks wore watches and kept pocket
                    calendars? They'd have completely understood "when it's full."

                    When I visited farmers in PC, I had no way of calling them to arrange
                    a visit. What I did was find someone in the market who was taking the
                    bus out their way. I then asked that person to tell a couple of
                    farmers in the area that I would come on say, "Wednesday," which was
                    pretty much interchangeable with "Tuesday" or "Thursday." Even if the
                    person going their way got them the word, the farmers' lives had
                    taught them that "appointments" were only kept about 50% of the time -
                    - buses broke down, something else came up for the visitor, etc, etc.
                    I very often arrived to find no one home but the wives and kids. For
                    21st c. folks that is called "frustrating." For 18th c. folks it's
                    called "normal."

                    Cheers,
                    Dave McKissack

                    2nd NC -- The Carolina Brigade

                    "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
                    admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Tar Bluff, SC,
                    27 Aug 1782.








                    >
                    > Cheers,
                    >
                    > Steve Rayner
                    >
                    > >From: "davidmckissack" <david.mckissack@...>
                    > >Reply-To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                    > >To: Revlist@yahoogroups.com
                    > >Subject: [Revlist] Re: British views on reenacting
                    > >Date: Wed, 01 Aug 2007 21:01:33 -0000
                    > >
                    > >Right. When I was in the Peace Corps, the biggest reason people
                    > >terminated early was they got bored living and working at 18th
                    > >century speed. Slowing your mind down to that pace is a huge
                    > >challenge. Yet that's the pace most of "them" (the people we
                    portray)
                    > >lived with.
                    > >
                    > >Cheers,
                    > >Dave McKissack
                    > >
                    > >2nd NC -- The Carolina Brigade
                    > >
                    > > "...those dear ragged Continentals, whose patience will be the
                    > >admiration of future ages." Colonel John Laurens, KIA, Tar Bluff,
                    SC,
                    > >27 Aug 1782.
                    > >
                    >
                    > _________________________________________________________________
                    > http://imagine-windowslive.com/hotmail/?locale=en-
                    us&ocid=TXT_TAGHM_migration_HM_mini_pcmag_0507
                    >
                  • Will Tatum
                    Dave et al, I thought the article was a pretty typical statement of the extreme opinions on the living history hobby- a reenactor who thinks it is the best
                    Message 9 of 22 , Aug 2, 2007
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                      Dave et al,
                      I thought the article was a pretty typical statement of the
                      extreme opinions on the living history hobby- a reenactor who thinks it
                      is the best thing since sliced bread, and a professional historian who
                      has a negative point of view. While economic historians can be a varied
                      lot, this fellow is a member of the Royal Historical Society, which
                      doesn't let in just anyone. In their haste to uniformly condemn all
                      academic professional historians who point out the flaws in this hobby,
                      many reenactors seem willing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
                      That only encourages academics, who are jealous types anyway, to rachet
                      up their condemnation and do things like throw out the grad school
                      applications of anyone who mentions "reenacting" in their personal
                      statement (this does actually happen).



                      Personally, I prefer a stance of moderation and think both parties have
                      good points. Daunton's criticism was very even-handed in my opinion,
                      and I think it is important to bear in mind that pretty much everyone
                      grounded in the 21st century sees reenacting as "dressing-up" and "play-
                      acting." Just as we can't get people to stop using the
                      term "reenacting," we won't get most of them to stop thinking of us as
                      adults who enjoy playing dress-up. As far as trade skills and material
                      culture go, high-quality living history is a valuable exercise for
                      learning about the human dimension of how stuff was made and used. As
                      far as mental stuff goes, trying to say that reenacting gives you a
                      real window into the eighteenth century is simply not defendable-
                      reenacting only gives you a window into what you THINK the eighteenth
                      century was. That is one reason why Peter Laslett titled his famous
                      study of sixteenth and seventeenth century Britain "The World We have
                      Lost." The documentary record is so fragmentary that we will never know
                      exactly what it was like, which extends to what soldiers were doing
                      with their gear in the field, or even what civilians were doing at
                      home. Historical sources only tell you what the author thought was
                      important, not what YOU think is important. And so much of that minutae
                      is gone that might have otherwise driven experimental archaeology. The
                      latter is, at the end of the day, educated guesswork at best, which
                      archaeologists will grudgingly admit.



                      Furthermore, in professional historical terms, very little of the hobby
                      has any value at all, because insufficient research and planning goes
                      into carrying off events. This list has dealt with the legion of
                      inaccuracies ad-nauseum, ranging from facial hair and women in the
                      ranks to the fact that we can put a man on the moon, but can't
                      accurately reproduce eighteenth-century muskets for an affordable
                      price. For 99.99999% of participants, this hobby is more about history-
                      themed activities rather than actually recreating the past. Hence most
                      people are in clothes and using gear that is "close enough" and come
                      out for the powder burners, which will never reflect the realities of
                      combat, but won't turn up for more easily reproducable activities like
                      building redoubts. And for that fraction of a percent of people who do
                      want it to be about truly opening a window into the past, and who are
                      willing to do the extensive research, purchase the very expensive
                      materials, and expend tons of time putting together a kit and the
                      historical knowledge to interpret it, the dream is still impossible.
                      The fragmentary record prevents us from knowing everything that they
                      knew and how they behaved 100% of the time. There's not even enough
                      documentation, in some cases, to provide us with a means of checking
                      our "guesswork." Furthermore, 100% accurate material culture is
                      essentially impossible. To get that, you would have to replicate the
                      entire early-modern economy (economic historians do have some value),
                      with practically everything done by hand, from raising the animals and
                      crops to forging the firelocks and swords to sewing the uniforms. At
                      best, we can replicate the end parts of those processes (handsewing
                      uniforms, hand-finishing reproductions). But the cost of insuring that
                      the sheep whose fleece makes your wool is hand-reared, that the wool is
                      hand-sheared with period-correct shears, hand-carded, hand-spun, woven
                      on period-correct water-powered textile machinery in Yorkshire, and
                      vegetable dyed is prohibitively expensive. So is beginning with a slab
                      of wood and a pile of iron, and progressing to a finished musket.




                      In the hard light of day, the value of this hobby cannot be measured by
                      professional standards, because it will always fail to meet them. Of
                      course, the hobby wasn't designed to professional standards in the
                      first place, which is kind of like trying to use quality-control
                      standards for cars to judge the latest corn crop from Iowa. The value
                      of the hobby, in my opinion, lies in the connection it builds between
                      the hearts and minds of modern people, and the fragments of memories of
                      the worlds that were. We will never know exactly what they were like,
                      nor will we be able to replicate them, but remembering that they did
                      exist, and valuing the contributions they made to what we are today, is
                      important to me. The social function of the hobby in bringing like-
                      minded enthusiasts together should also not be under-estimated, since
                      that plays a crucial role in many peoples' lives.



                      I've personally given up applying my professional standards to this
                      hobby, because no event can hold up to them. The lack of knowledgeable
                      people, let alone people with the training to interpret the documents
                      in an advanced manner, will always keep the majority of us from getting
                      as close to the real thing as we could. Given the miseries of
                      eighteenth-century life, and the fact that this is a hobby, that is not
                      altogether a bad thing. That said, I consider the material culture, and
                      modern social dimensions, of the hobby to be very valuable. Reenactors
                      and professional academics do have a lot of important things to tell
                      one another, but as long as each claims to have sole purview over the
                      world that was, and a willingness to defend those claims by writing off
                      the contributions of the other side completely, then there will be no
                      movement forward on that head.

                      Yr Svt,
                      Wm Tatum



                      >
                      > I'd be interested, Will, in what, if anything, you found interesting
                      > or thought-provoking in this article.
                      >
                      > Cheers,
                      > Dave McKissack
                    • Greg Ketcham
                      Joseph - one shouldn t tar economic historians (or generalist economic academes) with one brush...obviously, their perspective for interpretation is vastly
                      Message 10 of 22 , Aug 2, 2007
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                        Joseph - one shouldn't tar economic historians (or generalist economic
                        academes) with one brush...obviously, their perspective for interpretation
                        is vastly different, but also ultimately useful for us in terms of
                        intrepreting data and presenting some conclusions that inform us (the
                        general availability of cotton goods to *all* classes, speaking of exploding
                        reenactor myths).

                        If anything, the ECO faculty that I support here in The Halls of Learning
                        are more progressive, more open to new ideas in teaching and learning than
                        other departments. Take a look at the freakonomics blog sometime to see how
                        folks like this work. So, I stick up for my allies :-)

                        regards,
                        Greg Ketcham
                        2nd Albany


                        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                      • J. L. Bell on Revolutionary Boston
                        Joseph Malit wrote:
                        Message 11 of 22 , Aug 2, 2007
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                          Joseph Malit wrote:
                          <<Did anyone bother to check Staunton's [sic] credentials?
                          He's an ECONOMIC historian. As such, while he is
                          certainly entitled to his opinion, it should carry no
                          more weight than anyone else's and much LESS weight
                          than the opinion of any competent re-enactor.

                          Now if he were an art historian, a museum curator, or
                          an archaeologist I might tend to grant him a little
                          more credence. I wonder if Staunton has even HEARD of
                          the concept of experimental archaeology?>>

                          A good point, but as an economic historian Daunton might disagree on
                          priorities not only with "living historians" but also with other
                          academic historians who take other approaches to history.

                          Economic historians often study forces within society that most people
                          don't notice, and sometimes can't notice because of their scale.
                          Daunton might think that historians who focus on diplomacy, military
                          developments, biography, religion, etc. might also be missing the point.

                          If he's most interested in, say, how the Little Ice Age affected the
                          sheep-raising economy in central England over the course of two
                          centuries, then of course he'd not going to think that a reenactment of
                          the Battle of Minden would tell anyone enough about his important topic.
                          Not even a "this is how we card wool" demonstration on a sheep farm
                          would do it. Indeed, it might be impossible to both show historical
                          change on that scale and accurately depict the life of an individual.

                          J. L. Bell Boston1775@...

                          Unabashed gossip about the start of the American Revolution at
                          <http://boston1775.blogspot.com>.
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