In a new article calling for more academic attention to military history, Professor David Bell reassures:

Of course, promoting such historical knowledge does not mean subsidizing more books on subjects like cavalry tactics at the Battle of Antietam–which the public itself already subsidizes quite nicely …

He could have found a better example of a clichéd pop history topic (hint for next time: look for keywords like Blitzkrieg or Gettysburg).

Given the almost complete tactical insignificance of cavalry at the battle of Antietam, there are few, if any, published works specific to the subject.

Forget it, he’s rolling.

This is only a tiny part of an otherwise excellent article. And, yes, I recognize that Bell’s just taking a poke at “guns and drums” books – those of little interest to real scholars.

As one of the unwashed mass across the academic vs. public divide, I suppose I could blog a response to that perception or wonder aloud about Dr Bell’s contention that academics should “trust in the instincts of the general public”.

But who’d care? Instead, I’ll amuse myself with this small gaffe.



The article quoted and linked above is Military history bites the dust. Casualty of War from The New Republic (online edition), by David A. Bell. Post date 05.09.07 | Issue date 05.07.07.

Per the magazine: David A. Bell is a contributing editor at The New Republic and the author of The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Birth of Warfare As We Know It. He’s also professor at Johns Hopkins.

Thanks to Dr J A Klinghoffer, blogging on HNN’s Deja Vu, for the quotes from Dr Bell’s piece which clued me to it.

Cultural Reference

See a clip of the movie speech excerpted in the title of this post.

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