--- In email@example.com
, "Dick Weeks" <shotgun@c...>
> JEJ, I would think whether it is really necessary to document every
thing in the book all depends on what the reader is expecting. I
read both kinds myself. Heck, I subscribe to the Civil War Times
(Illustrated) and that certainly does not have footnotes/endnotes.
However, I must admit because of my website, I answer a lot of
questions on the Civil War on a daily basis, I do not reference any
book/magazine that does not tell me where the information came from.
Back in the middle 90's when I first started my website I had not
thought that much about whether a book was well documented or not.
Not being a professional historian I just read for pleasure.
However, with the advent of the Internet and books/documents on CD
and having to answer a lot of questions on the Civil War I have
greatly changed my reading habits and that may not be all good. Now
I have my books divided into two categories, (1) Bedside reader.
Those are the ones that do not have footnotes/endnotes and can be
read without any reference to outside documentation (i.e. Shelby
Foote, Jeff Shaara, Michael Shaara, Civil War Times, etc.) and I can
read them at my lesiure. (2) Library Reader. Those that have
footnotes/endnotes and require me to either take notes for later
reference or look the dang thing up right then. By the way, I only
look up those areas that appear somewhat questionable to me. The
others I just take their word for it. Needless to say I do not get
as much reading done as I used to :-) Bear in mind, that my #2 will
only work if you have a good Civil War Library. If you do not have
one, you can just make sure that the book has footnotes/endnotes and
hope the author has done his/her homework.
> By the way, I am a huge fan of Shelby Foote, but I do not use his
work as reference. Rather I use it as a learning tool to point me in
the direction I need to go.
> You folks have a GREAT NEW YEAR!!
> I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
> Dick (a.k.a. Shotgun)
Fellas my personal philosophy when it comes to this question is to
read as wide a variety of material as possible and, taking all of the
information and with the knowledge you already accept as accurate,
make your decision as to the validity or, more importantly, the value
of the new information. In other words, if you choose to take a
writer at his word without the benefits of redoing all of his
research by checking sources, etc., you are not following
blindly...you have an accumulation of knowledge to work with. You
know when things strike you as accurate and when its a new piece of
information that you need to explore. Shelby Foote's series is an in
depth popular history of the Civil War. It is well researched. Some
folks can't get past the idea that he is NOT a historian. If his set
was the ONLY thing I chose to ever read about the Civil War, I'd get
a pretty good general idea of what went on. But because I read
everything I can get my hands on, I can take his work in context.
I happen to like Foote. In fact, a few years ago they issued the 40th
anniversary edition of his book as a 14 volume illustrated version
ala Time-Life. It's great!
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
to add to my accumlated knowledge. That is why, IMHO, we are all
historians of a sort. I do not take all of the professional and
academic credentials too seriously; after all....like us, they
weren't there and so what we read is their interpretation. None of us
have every heard Mozart perform, but we have heard many
interpretations of his music. If it is well done and accurate, there
is no way to know if that artists interpretation of the music is what
Mozart intended. I tend to view history in the same way.
Happy New Year!!
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: GnrlJEJohnston@a...
> To: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Sent: Friday, December 31, 2004 5:04 PM
> Subject: Re: [civilwarwest] Re: Re: Books
> In a message dated 12/31/2004 7:10:59 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
> if a reader does not know where a
> fact/claim/opinion/conclusion came from, the evidence upon
which it is
> based, then that reader has no way to verify the writer's
> statement becomes merely an assertion of belief, having no more
> merit than anyone else's assertion.
> As an amateur author, I often wondered why so many footnotes and
documentation's are needed on topics that are so well known and have
been documented hundreds of times in the past already. In reading a
book, such as one on the war that we have been studying, how many
times do we read each and every footnote or documentation. I can see
documenting a statement given by a person, but do we have to document
each and every detail on well known battles. I salute those writers
that have done so for I know it is laborious to document each and
everything, but is it really necessary.
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