Our series on “The Future of Civil War” history heads into its final stretch this week with a few posts to round out June. We’ll take a couple days off to commemorate Gettysburg, then we’ll cap of the series with extended conversation with Civil War Times editor Dana Shoaf. We hope you’ve been enjoying it thus far.
Our series was inspired by the June issue of Civil War History, published by Kent State Press: “The Future of Civil War History.” The issue was based on a conference held at Gettysburg College’s Civil War Institute back in the spring of 2013, organized by Pete Carmichael. (For more on that, see our interview earlier this month with one of Pete’s co-editors on the journal, ECW’s Jim Broomall. Jim also gave us a preview of the conference as he prepared to attend.) In the spirit of carrying on the conversation started at the conference and continued in the journal, we’ve been riffing on the topic here.
Emerging Civil War was barely a year and a half old at the time of the conference, hardly on anyone’s radar screen and hardly deserving of a seat at the table. (Guest posters Andrea DeKoter and Becky Oakes reported for us from the conference, though.) One blogger who had earned a place at the table—deservedly so—was Brooks Simpson of Civil War Crossroads. Aside from his exceptional and highly readable scholarship, Brooks is one of the sharpest voices in the Civil War blogosphere: he has strong opinions, pulls no punches, and is unafraid of controversy. He’s smart and sharp, though. We realize he might not be for everyone, but we’re fans, and we think you should check him out.
But in reviewing those recaps, and in looking at a few other posts he shared on social media this week, we were also reminded that Brooks offers as keen a view of the current “state of the union” in Civil War history as anyone is bound to get. He has, over time, dissected many of the so-called divides in the field: public/academic, professional/amateur, military/social, etc. “For a field so concerned about whether it will survive and thrive beyond this short period of commemoration,” he said during the Sesquicentennial, “you would think that folks would concentrate on what unites people interested in the Civil War rather then spend so much time drawing dividing lines.”
If one is to fully consider the future of Civil War history, one must also consider its present. Civil War Crossroads is an ideal place to start. Here are a few suggestions to get you going: