A book review, history, and media myths
Posted by James McPherson on July 18, 2010
This review of my latest book is positive over all, and I generally agree with the quibbles. I also sincerely appreciate the efforts of reviewer William Gillis. Reviewing books isn’t easy–I’ve done three or four, and I rely heavily on reviews to decide what to read and possibly use for classes. Faculty and students all over the country benefit from those who take the job as seriously as Gillis obviously does.
One funny note about one of his comments–the fact that I, like most everyone else for decades, called Spiro Agnew’s “nabobs of negativity” quote a shot at the media. Just after the book came out, I was asked to be a blind reviewer for the very good Norman Lewis article, cited by Gillis, that corrects that myth. And thanks to Lewis, I knew before most people–though of course too late to make any difference–that I had it wrong in the book, though of course it was too late.
That’s one more example of why, despite the views of such “historians” as Lynne Cheney and Liz Cheney, we need to keep looking at even the history we think we know. Another great example arrived at my house yesterday in the form of the latest book from myth debunker and media historian (and friend) W. Joseph Campbell.
Joe’s book, Getting it Wrong: Ten of the Greatest Misreported Stories in American Journalism, takes on myths that include Watergate, feminism, Hurricane Katrina, and at least three wars (more if you count alien attacks, the Cold War and the “war on drugs.”)