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Historical reliability

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  • Laurence D. Schiller
    Dear Madelon - well said. I, too, am a professional historian, and it is an absolute paradigm of our profession that anything you say has to be verifiable. The
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2005
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      Dear Madelon - well said. I, too, am a professional historian, and it
      is an absolute paradigm of our profession that anything you say has
      to be verifiable. The writing of the history of the American Civil
      War is replete with mythology and quite frankly, bad historical
      writing. The partisan bias of many writers has produced a lot of junk
      over the past 140 years. It is the job of modern historians (whether
      professional or amateur) to sort through all of this and produce as
      accurate a history of the period as we can. Foote is an exceptional
      writer and I enjoy his work, but I will never cite it unless I can
      find his source or verify from another source(s). You can't just
      state something as true without being able to back it up.

      Best regards,

      Laurie Schiller, proud to be a knothead who demands citations.

      At 6:54 PM +0000 1/1/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      >Dear Mr. Saulz:
      >I suppose that I, too, must be a "knothead," because, although I greatly
      >admire Mr. Foote's narrative abilities, I also cannot in good conscience
      >cite him as a source, precisely because he declined to cite his own sources.
      >As Bill Gower has pointed out, 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; the
      >statement becomes merely an assertion of belief, having no more weight or
      >merit than anyone else's assertion. What this means is that although Shelby
      >Foote can be regarded as a wonderful storyteller, he cannot be regarded as a
      >historian. Most of the time, when we talk about him, that distinction is
      >not very important, but every once in a while, a person wants to say, "Now,
      >Mr. Foote, come on -- what's your evidence for that, anyway?" But there is
      >no answer. Of course, it's not a "silly" matter at all.
      >Regards,
      >Madelon E. Heatherington
      >P.S.: I too have a doctorate, an earned one, not an honorary one. Please
      >explain what is the connection between reliability and "one Doctorates from
      >Colleges & Univ.sall around country for the 20 some-odd years of his
      >work..."?

      --
      Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller Civil War First Person Impressions
      Maitre d'Armes William Bradshaw, Co. F 2nd WI
      Head Fencing Coach George Hammitt, Co. H 104th Ill
      Department of History
      Northwestern University
      Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference
      Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association
      Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division
      Lds307@...
      847-491-4654 (Athletics)
      847-467-5344 (History)
      FAX 847-467-1406
      Official Sports site: http://nusports.ocsn.com/
      Student web site: http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/
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