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29676Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Books

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  • DPowell334@AOL.COM
    Jan 1, 2005
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      In a message dated 12/31/2004 9:08:47 PM Central Standard Time, civilwarlady@... writes:


      I think sometimes people get too caught up in this "professional
      historian" versus "historian" or "Authority".  The purpose of a
      professional historian is vastly different than that of a local
      historian or an "expert" in a certain aspect of the war, or
      an "amatuer". And to me,  all of them have something of great value


      I dont thing the whole question is merely one of semantics, however. Foote's trilogy is outstanding - fun to read, as well.

      However, his reliance on secondary sources means that he repeats dozens of errors, and that there are many things in his books that are not true. For example, Foote states that Buford's Cavalry carried repeating rifles at Gettysburg, which is why they held off the Confederates on July 1. This is a myth, but because Foote states it, it gets lots of attention and gets repeated often.

      Foote relied on a previous popular account of the action for that information. Had he worked with primary sources (say, the ordnance returns) he would have discovered that this story isn't true.

      This is why Foote's work is not regularly cited - it contains inaccuracies. And without footnotes, the reader has no idea where a particular statement came from, or how to verify it. People are not simply being snobs.

      This doesn't detract from the value of Foote's work as a popular history, but it does very much limit it's usefulness for serious research.

      Dave Powell
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