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Wondering Through the Shelves: Thoughts on History in American Bookstores

This weekend, I put words to a feeling that had been building for some time: bookstores have alienated me as an historian. Well, not all bookstores. Over the past few years, as I’ve made a habit of perusing whatever Barnes & Noble or local book sellers cross my path on weekly errands, I’ve drifted away from the beloved science-fiction and fantasy sections of my adolescence and towards the history section, looking to fuel my ever-burning desire to learn more about the events of the past, even after obtaining my official degrees. As I’ve done so, however, I’ve noticed a marked contrast between these American bookstores and the shops I used to frequent while studying in Oxford, and not for the better.... Read More
John Keegan: The American Civil War

Not His Best Work: John Keegan’s The American Civil War

Keegan, John. The American Civil War: A Military History. New York: Random House, 2009. As a fan of John Keegan’s groundbreaking work The Face of Battle, I embarked with great excitement on his last work, The American Civil War. I specifically looked forward to both the trailblazing analysis he would bring to my favorite conflict […]... Read More
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Judging the Past: The Historian as Ethicist

As I was reading Alexander Watson’s Ring of Steel for an upcoming Concerning History Book Club post, I was struck by how easily perspective can be lost when dealing with subjects that we find morally unacceptable. Ring of Steel offers a different portrait of the war than most English-language accounts. Early on, Watson argues that […]... Read More
knightfall

Sweet Revenge: History’s Knightfall, Season 2

Last year, I was pleasantly surprised by History Channel’s newest scripted history content, Knightfall, and its decision to steer into the motifs of a grail quest that we know, somehow, will lead to the fall of Knights Templar in the early fourteenth century. A little over a year later, its second season premiered to much fanfare, centered almost entirely around the fact that the always wonderful Mark Hamil would be joining the cast as a crotchety old Templar veteran tasked with training the Temple’s new initiates (sound slightly like a recent Star Wars movie, anyone?). Eager to hear more of the mysteries of the Holy Grail and see how, exactly, the tragic flaws of main character Landry de Luson lead to his order’s destruction, I dutifully tuned in.... Read More