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Re: Reviews Have to be "Critically" Negative?

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  • brooksdsimpson@yahoo.com
    ... liked ... didn t ... a ... Dave brings up some interesting points. One might, I suppose, chide Joan Waugh for preparing a review that did not explicitly
    Message 1 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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      --- In civilwarwest@y..., "Dave Smith" <dmsmith001@y...> wrote:
      > I suppose one could come to the conclusion that Professor Waugh
      liked
      > both books. It's been known to happen . . .
      >
      > But yes, I've seen that review before. It's been posted here as
      > well. I checked before posting mine, in order to make sure I
      didn't
      > duplicate things.
      >
      > But I have a question. Is a lack of criticsm of the author's work
      a
      > requirement of writing a book review? A "critical review," in which
      > the reviewer looks at a grocery list of things that make up a book
      > biography (in this case), is required, but I don't believe there's
      > anything that requires the review to be critical in nature.

      Dave brings up some interesting points.

      One might, I suppose, chide Joan Waugh for preparing a review that
      did not explicitly criticize the book under review. A more careful
      reader would, I believe, discern that in her review of my book she
      still thinks McFeely's analysis of Grant's character and personality
      valuable (and thus not replaced), while she sees the need for a
      better military biography. Perret's book is conspicious by its non-
      mention. So I think you have to read between the lines.

      But one would also have to chide David Long for a review which is
      unstintingly critical and personally abusive. I know from colleagues
      that Long's review has not helped his reputation and it has not hurt
      mine. In Long's case, it's easy to prove animus and even easier to
      point out his mishandling of Cold Harbor (Long insists that there was
      a effort to cover up the losses, a contention dismissed by other
      scholars who are better qualified to judge, including James McPherson
      and Gordon Rhea). Mr. Rose has come under similar criticism for his
      amazon.com review. I know of two people who have brought ip the Long
      review in internet groups, and it's safe to say that each poster had
      a clearly-defined agenda (Dave knows whereof I speak).

      But the whole discussion reveals how one uses evidence. If one
      wanted to measure the reception accorded my book, one would have to
      bring out all the reviews, not merely those that support one's own
      particular point of view. Nor do authors necessarily despise all
      critical reviews or the people who write them. I'm aware of two
      clear cases of personal animus from reviewers, and that's the nature
      of the beast. On the other hand, I'd be worried if James McPherson,
      Gordon Rhea, or Ed Bearss assailed the book. Suffice it to say I'm
      not worried.

      As for Mr. Rose, you can catch the road show on the soc. civil war
      group.
    • Terry Johnston
      As a lurker, I m afraid to say I ve only caught part of this thread. I wonder if Long s review has been posted on the web. If so, could someone please
      Message 2 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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        As a lurker, I'm afraid to say I've only caught part of this thread.  I wonder if Long's review has been posted on the web.  If so, could someone please provide me with a link to it?  Many thanks.

        Terry Johnston

        brooksdsimpson@... wrote:

         
        But one would also have to chide David Long for a review which is
        unstintingly critical and personally abusive.  I know from colleagues
        that Long's review has not helped his reputation and it has not hurt
        mine.  In Long's case, it's easy to prove animus and even easier to
        point out his mishandling of Cold Harbor (Long insists that there was
        a effort to cover up the losses, a contention dismissed by other
        scholars who are better qualified to judge, including James McPherson
        and Gordon Rhea).  Mr. Rose has come under similar criticism for his
        amazon.com review.  I know of two people who have brought ip the Long
        review in internet groups, and it's safe to say that each poster had
        a clearly-defined agenda (Dave knows whereof I speak).
         

      • Dave Smith
        ... See The book review, as copied and pasted from the website at http://www.thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_cwtimay00lead.htm follows: Also see message 8151 in
        Message 3 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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          --- In civilwarwest@y..., Terry Johnston <tajjr@e...> wrote:
          > As a lurker, I'm afraid to say I've only caught part of this
          > thread. I wonder if Long's review has been posted on the web. If
          > so, could someone please provide me with a link to it? Many thanks.
          >

          See

          The book review, as copied and pasted from the website at
          http://www.thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_cwtimay00lead.htm follows:

          Also see message 8151 in this forum.

          Dave
        • Terry Johnston
          Appreciate it. Now, for my two cents. This does not strike me as a good book review. It s not very well argued, for one. And though Long certainly is under
          Message 4 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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            Appreciate it. Now, for my two cents. This does not strike me as a good
            book review. It's not very well argued, for one. And though Long certainly
            is under no obligation to love (or even like) the book, or to refrain from
            revealing his true feelings about it, his negativity does seem excessive.
            The review, in short, lacks a sense of scholarly decorum. It also lacks,
            save for the penultimate paragraph, quotations (of significant length) from
            the book in question. You'd think that if Long wanted to hang Simpson out
            to dry for his conclusions, he's use Simpson's own words to do so.

            Terry Johnston






            Dave Smith wrote:

            > --- In civilwarwest@y..., Terry Johnston <tajjr@e...> wrote:
            > > As a lurker, I'm afraid to say I've only caught part of this
            > > thread. I wonder if Long's review has been posted on the web. If
            > > so, could someone please provide me with a link to it? Many thanks.
            > >
            >
            > See
            >
            > The book review, as copied and pasted from the website at
            > http://www.thehistorynet.com/reviews/bk_cwtimay00lead.htm follows:
            >
            > Also see message 8151 in this forum.
            >
            > Dave
          • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
            In a message dated 10/2/01 3:37:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time, tajjr@eclipsetel.com writes:
            Message 5 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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              In a message dated 10/2/01 3:37:38 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
              tajjr@... writes:

              << Appreciate it. Now, for my two cents. This does not strike me as a good
              book review. It's not very well argued, for one. And though Long certainly
              is under no obligation to love (or even like) the book, or to refrain from
              revealing his true feelings about it, his negativity does seem excessive.
              The review, in short, lacks a sense of scholarly decorum. It also lacks,
              save for the penultimate paragraph, quotations (of significant length) from
              the book in question. You'd think that if Long wanted to hang Simpson out
              to dry for his conclusions, he's use Simpson's own words to do so.

              Terry Johnston >>
              Please Terry and all the rest:
              This forum was to discuss actions and individuals that fought in the Western
              Theater (and perhaps the Trans-Missip included) not book reviews, book
              criticisms even though the books may pertain to individuals or battles within
              these theaters. For those that do persist on having book reviews or
              criticisms of an author, may I suggest that you open up a discussion room
              specifically for that purpose, rather than using this forum.

              Respectfully,

              Wayne C. Bengston
            • Jfepperson@aol.com
              In a message dated 10/2/2001 4:05:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time, ... Western ... While I sympathize with the frustration over certain squabbles, I have to
              Message 6 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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                In a message dated 10/2/2001 4:05:49 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                FLYNSWEDE@... writes:

                > This forum was to discuss actions and individuals that fought in the
                Western
                > Theater (and perhaps the Trans-Missip included) not book reviews, book
                > criticisms even though the books may pertain to individuals or battles
                > within
                > these theaters. For those that do persist on having book reviews or
                > criticisms of an author, may I suggest that you open up a discussion room
                > specifically for that purpose, rather than using this forum.

                While I sympathize with the frustration over certain squabbles, I have
                to disagree in a major way with the assertions quoted above. If
                discussions of books which deal with the western theatre of the Civil
                War are deemed off-topic, then our ability to discuss scholarship is
                severely (perhaps fatally) limited.

                JFE


                James F. Epperson
                http://members.aol.com/jfepperson/causes.html
                http://members.aol.com/siege1864
              • FLYNSWEDE@AOL.COM
                In a message dated 10/2/01 6:33:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time, Jfepperson@aol.com writes:
                Message 7 of 13 , Oct 2, 2001
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                  In a message dated 10/2/01 6:33:52 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
                  Jfepperson@... writes:

                  << If
                  discussions of books which deal with the western theatre of the Civil
                  War are deemed off-topic, then our ability to discuss scholarship is
                  severely (perhaps fatally) limited. >>

                  Jeff,
                  I believed that you misconstrued my post. Most certainly books on the
                  Western theater should be discussed, but in the content of what happened,
                  what was the battle strategy, were did the battle go wrong, etc.; what the
                  battle commanders could have done or should have done rather than a given
                  author. One could say that he/she enjoyed the book or did not enjoy the
                  book, but to go into severe negative criticism on an author to a point where
                  it becomes character assassination, this I believe has no place in this forum.
                  Use the book to talk about battle events that took place so that all can
                  learn. One can never learn from negative criticism, only from positive
                  criticism; any instruction in leadership development will ascertain to that.

                  Basically, if one desires to bash a book or its author; bash the reviewer or
                  the reviews as a result of one's on personal bias, then let him/her open up
                  their own room and do the bashing there, rather than within this forum.

                  Hopefully this will clarify the true intent of my first post.

                  Wayne
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