Am I a Centennialist?
Another day and yet another Centennialist rant. Does the fact that somebody reads and is inspired by a populist publication like American Heritage make one a Centennialist? If so I must be one because my first exposure to the Civil War came from the pages of AH and their picture history. If I am one does that mean so are Gary Gallagher and Gerry Prokopowicz? I heard them both say that AH was one of their first exposures to the Civil War. Maybe I should clean out my book case and fill the holes with some good quality anti-centennialist writings. I am still under forty so maybe there is time for me to purge my soul and get rid of the albatross around my neck.
"One of the characteristics of much (although not all) writing on the American Civil War is the tendency to rehash the same old arguments and repeat the same old narrative lines. To be sure, novelty for novelty’s sake is not always a good idea, in that the outrageous and the outlandish often become mere distractions. But in a career marked by reading and writing, it is interesting how at time(s) we spend so little time thinking … and I mean thinking long, hard, and deep about what we do and how we do it. I fear that at times we’ve lost the ability to look at sources with fresh eyes, to read them or look at them freed of as much baggage as we bring to our work."
Massaging this quote, I view a centennialist as someone who basically rehashes or builds upon the narrative established during the period surrounding the centennial, without questioning the validity of that basis. Someone who starts at square 100 instead of square 1.
I can't speak for Dmitri. I don't know him any better than I do you. But as for his comments on Neely's book, you might check out the CWBN entry on 6/20/06 titled "Glaciers and Icepicks". I don't think McClellan is mentioned in that post.