Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Booknotes: This Will Make A Man of Me

New Arrival:
This Will Make a Man of Me: The Life and Letters of a Teenage Officer in the Civil War
edited by James M. Scythes (Lehigh Univ Pr, 2016).

At seventeen years of age, infantry Second Lieutenant Thomas James Howell of the 3rd New Jersey was an uncommonly young Civil War officer. Unfortunately, like many of his comrades, Howell's life was a tragically brief one, coming to a grisly end during the Battle of Gaines's Mill. "Featuring sixty-five letters that Howell wrote home to his family, this book describes soldier life in the Army of the Potomac during the spring and summer of 1862, focusing on Howell’s experiences during Major General George B. McClellan’s Peninsula Campaign."

The material is extensively annotated by editor James Scythes, who also contributes a substantial general introduction, as well as lengthy introductory narratives to Parts I and II of the book and a concluding essay. Numerous maps and photographs are also included. Beyond the novelty of the subject's extreme youth, it looks like the material might also (as already mentioned above) prove quite useful to Peninsula Campaign students.


  1. John FoskettMarch 09, 2017

    This appears to be well-done. But I have no intention of forking over $75.00 for under 200 pages. Some of these these academic presses should just do a print run of 50 copies for institutional buyers.

    1. It does look well done. I will definitely review it. Your comment suggesting this particular press is really only interested in selling to libraries is probably close to the truth. Getting a review copy from them directly didn't work and the author ended up sending me one of his own.

    2. John FoskettMarch 09, 2017

      I feel bad for authors in this situation because they put in all of the effort to turn out a quality book and see only a limited number of copies published. At least some of the academic presses turn out softcover editions at a fraction of the hardcover price. I don't like passing on this one because I'm one of those Peninsula Campaign devotees to whom you refer.

    3. The solution to high book prices: interlibrary loan.
      Will Hickox

  2. Or patience on the secondary market.

    1. John FoskettMarch 10, 2017

      Lots of patience. I checked their website. Everything is in that price range. (They distribute through Rowman and Littlefield). So I think you're on the mark about their target purchasers.


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