Re: Congratulations, Tom!
- Speaking of our competing books, I want to take the opportunity here, publicly, to say that Tom and I were both ill-served by a few people in the historical community.
I had known about the Carman manuscript in passing ever since I read Sears's comments about it in the back of Landscape Turned Red . . . however many years ago that book first came out. In the fall of 2005 I was literally a week away from beginning a PhD program in history when I decided I wasn't very satisfied with what I was seeing of the program, so I withdrew and found myself was a block of time on my hands.
Fishing around for a project, the Carman manuscript came to mind.
Now at the time, I had never heard of Tom nor knew of his intentions. But before I ever spent a day working on it, I did have discussions with a few historians (whom I discovered, years later, WERE aware of Tom) and discussed my plans for Carman. My purpose in doing so was simply to get confirmation that, in the opinion of people who knew both the Antietam historiography and the marketplace, this was a project that would have an audience. (Even at the start, I knew Carman would not be a short assignment -- and I didn't want to invest myself so greatly in something that might turn out to be a bust.)
This is not a forum for finger-pointing. I'm not going to mention any names. But had ANY of those people ever mentioned Tom or his plans to publish the Carman manuscript, my involvement with it would have ended right then and there.
For reasons I cannot understand, however, no one that I talked to ever bothered to say, "You know, someone's already working on that. . . ." There were other projects in which I had an interest (I'm working on two of them now). ALL it would have taken was a mention of Tom's work by any of those people to waive me off. My primary interest in doing the Carman manuscript was a desire to see this mountain of work finally get a true public airing. Knowing that such plans were underway would have satisfied that need. It also would have spared ME the risk of diving blindly into a mammoth project when there was a very real possibility I'd be scooped. (As we all now know, Tom had quite a head start on me.)
As a result, by the time I learned of Tom's plans I had not only signed a contract for the Carman book with my publisher, but I had already delivered the first draft of a completed manuscript. Even if I wanted to walk away, I was now locked in. The very day I learned about Tom, in fact, I hunted down his phone number and made a courtesy call to let him know that I existed and what my plans were and what the status of my project.
I can appreciate how disheartened Tom must have been to learn of it. I had a similar experience myself right after I finished Carman. I contacted a very prominent Civil War historian to inquire as to his oft-rumored plans to write a particular book. He told me he had decided never to write it, he wished me well with the topic, and even offered to turn over his research to me. I didn't take him up on the last part, but trusting in his assurance that he wasn't interested in writing the book, I devoted a significant amount of time and money researching the topic in repositories all around the country -- only to receive an email a year later from this same historian telling me that he'd changed his mind, and that the book he was never going to write would in fact be his very next project.
C'est la guerre, but I'd love to have that year returned to me.
The moral of my story? ALWAYS pass on what you hear about one person's project to someone else that you know is working in the same field. Maybe it will affect his plans, maybe it won't. But it least it will allow everyone involved to make more informed decisions before embarking on such vast commitments of time and resources -- and, most importantly, heart.
Because no one in his right mind would ever sit down and face the mute terror of a keyboard and a blank screen if he didn't have a fascination with, if not indeed a love for, his subject.
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "Thomas Clemens" <clemenst@...> wrote:
> Then when I did get back to working on it Jake came out with his version which demoralized me to where I quit working for a year or so.
- Oh, if you change the FORMAT, it could be done (in theory). I was merely speaking about the impossibility of ever seeing the Antietam Atlas ever reprinted in its original form. (CD-ROM is great, but unless you have a color printer that'll take a sheet of paper three feet by four feet. . . . )
For those who've never seen the Antietam Atlas (and very few were produced), each plate is about the size of a small coffee table. If you've ever seen a plate from the ORIGINAL OR Atlas (not the one currently sold in bookstores; those have been reduced dramatically in size), it's almost identical. And in terms of page count, the OR Atlas is probably 20x the size of the Antietam Atlas. (A book has to be of a certain length to make the eocnomics of publishing work.)
--- In TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com, "G E Mayers" <gerry1952@...> wrote:
> Dear Jake;
> The trick of course would be what format would work best and
> whether a CD could also be part of the package to sweeten the
> deal. (I have worked in the publishing field also, so am aware of
> some of the technical issues involved.)
> Yr. Obt. Svt.
> G E "Gerry" Mayers
> To Be A Virginian, either by birth, marriage, adoption, or even
> on one's mother's side, is an introduction to any state in the
> Union, a passport to any foreign country, and a benediction from
> the Almighty God. --Anonymous
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "joseph_pierro" <joseph_pierro@...>
> To: <TalkAntietam@yahoogroups.com>
> Sent: Friday, January 08, 2010 12:47 PM
> Subject: [TalkAntietam] Re: Congratulations, Tom!
> <snip>If it ever were to be attempted, the only way I think it
> could possibly be done would be to reprint the maps as single
> sheets (as opposed to being bound in a book).