Those of you have read my review of the recent Wilson biography XX know that I have strong views on footnotes. Every historian, I believe, owes footnotes to future historians.  It is only through good footnotes that one historian can retrace the steps of a prior historian, confirm whether the work is accurate, assess whether…

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I spoke yesterday to perhaps three or four hundred people at the National Book Festival on the mall in Washington.  Then signed books and posters and programs for perhaps a hundred people–including some old friends. For those who were not there, and want to see what I said, CSPAN was there and taped it, and…

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I spent this past weekend on Nantucket, for the Nantucket Book Festival.  I flew with my parents from Los Angeles, and we were met and hosted by their old friends the Shacklefords, the best hosts possible.  We also saw our friend Jane Moore, another friend from my father’s law school days, and from my own…

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A serious biographer has a love-hate relationship with the prior biography of his subject.  At least, that is my relation with the biography of Stanton by Benjamin Thomas and Harold Hyman in 1962. On the one hand I love the book because it presents a full and fair view of Stanton:  the best life of…

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My sister called yesterday, to read to me a note I wrote to her in May 1995, when I gave her a copy of “The Last Full Measure: The Life and Death of the First Minnesota Volunteers” by Richard Moe. That wonderful book, as the title implies, is a regimental history, of the first Minnesota…

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As regular readers of this blog, if any, know, I review books for the Washington Independent Review of Books. The other day I sent the editors a note, suggesting that someone should do a “book list” of books on Margaret Thatcher. They sent back a note saying that it was a great idea, and that…

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My Seward book has now been reviewed in the New Yorker and in the Economist. The New Yorker review is not the customary few sentences; it is several pages, a long essay about Seward and his role in American history.  The reviewer said some very nice things:  the book is “masterly,” a “subtle portrait of…

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The first publication reviews of Seward have appeared.  They are favorable; indeed the review in the Dallas Morning News could be described as glowing.  It ends with the following:   “Writing like that makes history come alive: a researcher digging into the mines of the past and quarrying new insight on an old story. Seward:…

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We are moving this summer:  moving our summer house from Virginia to California.  We want to be closer to my parents, who live in southern California, and closer to my wife’s family, in Japan.  We also want to be OUT of the oppressive heat of northern Virginia:  we had no power for four days this…

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I am in our northern Virginia home, sorting and packing books, and dipping into books from time to time, this morning. The introduction to the one-volume abridgement of Douglas Southall Freeman’s four-volume life of Robert E. Lee has a wonderful little story.  After sending off the last pages of his manuscript to the publisher, Freeman…

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