Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Book by Dougherty

If you've noticed my current reading list on the right hand side of the page you'll see a book called Strangling the Confederacy by Kevin Dougherty. I didn't even know about this book until I stumbled upon it on the History Book Club web page. I was surprised to find that there was a new book dealing with the Civil War navies of which I was unaware. I'm usually pretty good about keeping up with the current scholarship. At any rate, I ordered the book from HBC and when I finished Stoker's excellent work I started reading Dougherty's book. I have to admit that I am more than a bit disappointed. I read the first few chapters (all of which are very brief) and decided it wasn't worth finishing. Don't get me wrong; there is plenty of very good information in the book. I found no grave factual errors in the little bit that I read, and all the information presented was fine. The problem is there's nothing new. The entire book is rehashed information from other secondary sources or well-known published primary sources. What kills me is that rather than basing his analysis on any primary sources, the author quotes other historians' works. In the brief amount that I read there were numerous quotes from Shelby Foote and Ivan Musicant. I've read works by both of these authors, so I really don't need Dougherty to rehash what they wrote. I suppose this book would be really good for someone who knows little or nothing about the Union Navy in the Civil War or combined operations (which is really what this book is about). It would provide them with the most basic of information and enough interpretation to get them started. For my purposes, it will only be slightly useful as a reference work.


Anonymous said...

Offering nothing new and using all secondary sources is a pattern with this author. How U of MS Pr saw fit to publish his Peninsula Campaign book, I can have no idea.

Drew W.

Andrew Duppstadt said...

Thanks for the comment Drew! I was actually forewarned of this by none other than Craig Symonds and Chris Fonvielle, but I had already ordered the book by that point. At the NC Maritime History Conference last month, Symonds and Fonvielle were talking about the irony that Dougherty's book came out right about the same time as Symonds' collection on combined operations, in which Fonvielle has a chapter. I tried to give the book a shot anyway, and just couldn't do it.