Question of the Week: 4/15-4/21/24

It’s Tax Day in the USA, so with a play on words…

What do you find the most “taxing” (challenging) part of learning/studying Civil War history? Is there something that would make this easier for you?

15 Responses to Question of the Week: 4/15-4/21/24

  1. Endnotes (versus footnotes). Being required to break up the flow of reading by having to constantly go back to the endnotes section, while perhaps not really rising to the level of “challenging,” is distracting from learning as well as somewhat annoying. The footnote practice-I am convinced-was adopted by the bookmark industry to double the number of bookmarks one has to purchase to read an endnote book.

      1. and especially annoying when endnotes are arranged by chapter and not page number … requires to the reader to check what chapter they are in to find the note … i am told that publishers prefer endnotes because readers of popular history don’t buy books with footnotes … they apparently look too much like textbooks.

  2. Deciding which of my Civil War books to read next or which facet of the war I should finally study. Book reviews such as those ECW produces are helpful in providing guidance.

  3. An accurate artificial intelligence (AI) assistant like ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude, etc. that could efficiently aggregate the OR data and recent additions, in searchable form, would be worth paying for. Especially if the AI could provide (accurate!) documentation.

    1. To clarify: The newest additions published by Broadfoot are not actually part of the OR and are not free, but I would pay for an updated AI engine that could access those. Even a practical, accurate program limited to the original volumes would be valuable, as would one that could cross-reference other sources, original and secondary.

  4. I’m a current history graduate student at Virginia Tech focusing on “galvanized” Confederates. If only these people wrote down why they decided to switch sides!

  5. The most taxing part of studying/lecturing on/writing about the Civil War is those who have little knowledge of the Civil War and those who have much knowledge of the Civil War (and thus should be particularly ashamed of themselves) who are currently applying 21st Century political agendas – and bogus ones, for that matter – to the Civil War in their dishonest attempts to both use the Civil War to achieve their ends in today’s society, and also to “revise” – reinvent? – oh, ok, lie about – the Civil War and America from its inception so as to cause dissent and destruction. I am the descendant of 25 Civil War veterans, I grew up with my grandparents’ stories of growing up with Civil War soldiers in their homes and neighborhoods, with my ancestors’ guns, uniforms, equipment, decorations, photographs, letters and diaries surrounding me, and reading the true history of the war written by honest historians…and now today I pick up “Civil War” books and feel like I’m reading about life on a different planet. When you lie about history you destroy it; when you destroy history, you destroy a people.

  6. Bravo to Eric for clearly expressing a sad truth about the “modern interpretation” of history. Especially the history of the Civil War. Where and when will this false view of our past end? Who will lead the charge? It seems that our institutions of higher learning are leading the head long retreat from teaching about the past. Again, where will the future corrective leaders come from to make a stand and decimate the legends of false history tellers?

  7. i could do without the heavy doses of presentism many activist historians feel the need to insert in their narratives … i find nothing less interesting than hearing a lecture about how unenlightened people in the 19th century were … of course they were, they lived in the 19th century.

    i am absolutely sure that my yankee great-great grandfather who fought in every battle from Antietam to Appomatox … and was wounded twice would have been a racist by 21st century standards, along with pretty much the entire population of the United States … let’s try to see people from that era as they were, not how we would like them to be.

    great question by the way. thanks.

    PS — and more maps please

  8. I would advocate for a beginners guide that would list seminal works those new to the subject. Should give a wide range of works for the adult beginner to access.

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