Lawrence B. Ebert is a registered patent lawyer from New Jersey. He maintains a blog called IPBiz that deals with the business of intellectual property. He has commented on this blog previously, and he also is an active member of the CWDG.

Last week, Mr. Ebert had an interesting post on plagiarism, and he selected Carhart’s festering pile of turds as the example for analysis. Referring to Paul D. Walker’s The Cavalry Battle that Saved the Union, which is, without doubt, one of the worst Civil War books ever published, Ebert points out that Walker’s book also claims that Stuart’s movement on East Cavalry Field was coordinated with Pickett’s Charge. Walker’s book, awful as it may be–and it is horrendous–was published a couple of years before Carhart’s. Mr. Ebert wrote, “The later guy in town had better credentials, better friends, and a better publisher, and few even knew of the earlier guy. How can ‘you know it when you see it’?”

On April 26, he also put up an extended post about the accounts of the veterans of the fight on East Cavalry Field wherein they addressed the theory that is the underpinning of Carhart’s theory. Following a lead that I gave him on the CWDG, he focused in on William Brooke-Rawle’s account of the fight on East Cavalry Field, wherein Brooke-Rawle stated, “It was obvious that he [Stuart] intended to accomplish this by way of the Baltimore Pike and the roads hereafter described, simultaneously with Pickett’s attack in front.”

The gist, therefore, is that Mr. Ebert appears to believe that Tom Carhart is a plagiarist who has claimed a novel theory as his own when it’s something that has been around for decades and is nothing new at all. I agree. I also have major issues with the fact that Carhart simply made stuff up. The combination of making stuff up and plagiarism equals fraud on the consuming public.

My hat’s off to Mr. Ebert for showing this festering pile of turds for what it really is.

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Mon 21st May 2007 at 11:05 pm

    Great stuff, and I’ll check out his blog.

    I continued to be amazed by Carhart’s book with each page. Yes, he claimed to have come up with this great theory (which has been around as long as the battle, and one of those annoying myths that won’t die) and when he can’t prove it with the evidence, he simply invents things like conversations between officers! “Well, it would be great to have a recorded conversation between Lee and Stuart – however, we don’t. So in order to prove my theory, I’ll make one up. It goes like this…. There, I’ve proved my theory!”

    I would tear out each page of Carhart’s book to line my new puppy’s pen, but that would be highly insulting to my puppy. He deserves a better brand of tome on which to poop.

    J.D.

  2. Dave Powell
    Tue 22nd May 2007 at 6:37 am

    “Theory Recirculation” is a common Gettysburg trick. “Last Chance for Victory” purports to advance completely new theories on Lee’s intentions at Gettysburg, but I found them almost entirely to be stuff common 100 years ago, in the SHSP. The only one the authors managed to avoid was the ‘Longstreet attacks at dawn’ charge…

    I was amused at how fast and loose Carhart played with other historical events to flesh out his thesis, as well.

    It would be nice if even half of the text on a book purportedly about Gettysburg was, well, about Gettysburg…

    Dave Powell

  3. Randy Sauls
    Tue 22nd May 2007 at 10:11 am

    Eric:

    “Festering pile of turds”? Now don’t be shy and mince words; tell us how you really feel about this book! I haven’t read it and if it’s as bad as you indicate, I don’t plan to. I have always been interested (ok, obsessed) with Gettysburg and tend to take it for what it was. I’m not really interested in theories about this or that. It is what it is and that’s enough for me.

    Randy

  4. Brooks Simpson
    Tue 22nd May 2007 at 1:33 pm

    The Carhart book troubles me greatly, given the training of the writer and the endorsement. Contrast it with Troy Harmon’s book, which offers a new interpretation with which one may agree or disagree, but at least I know he’s the one doing the thinking.

  5. Valerie Protopapas
    Tue 22nd May 2007 at 4:25 pm

    So, Eric, you don’t like the book? 😀

    Anyway, it’s nice to see some passion about history these days when most people don’t know who fought in WWII.

  6. Steve Basic
    Wed 23rd May 2007 at 12:18 am

    Folks,

    I am of the opinion that these books should be read, not for the “scholarly” content, but just to add voices as to why crap like this is published. I respect the views of Eric, J.D. and and Dr. Simpson, but that said, I got the books el cheapo, so I can add my thoughts to the conversation. Hard for me to comment on something I have yet to read, and I hope you understand where I am coming from.

    That said when those three post about crap, they hit the nail on the head. As to Mr. Ebert, great stuff, and something I thought about as well when reading descriptions of the books. Then again we are both from NJ, and we tend to think alike on stuff such as this. 🙂 Crap and NJ…perfect together..:)

    Hope all are well.

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve Basic

  7. Brooks Simpson
    Wed 23rd May 2007 at 11:15 am

    Steve–

    I have real trouble with Carhart’s book, in part because we can’t simply sit back and say that he’s just one of a vast number of people who believe they have a Civil War book in them.

    Carhart’s a professionally-trained historian. See

    http://www.tomcarhart.net/formal_resume.htm

    There’s nothing “new” in this interpretation in terms of Stuart’s role, despite the claims in the text and the foreword. Professionally-trained historians ought to know better.

    As for buying the book cheap, that usually means no royalties for the author, so perhaps the author did not profit from your purchase. As for me (and, I have no doubt, for Eric and JD as well), I have to wade through a lot of garbage because it’s my responsibility to know the literature, good and bad. Trust me, if I could have the thirty minutes of my life back spent reading Michael Korda’s horrendous biography of Grant, I could have at least watched another Cheers rerun. 🙂

  8. Wed 23rd May 2007 at 9:26 pm

    LOL, Brooks, that would have been time better spent 🙂

    Heck, a “Facts of Life” rerun would have been more profitable…

    J.D.

  9. Steve Basic
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 1:48 am

    Brooks,

    Your point is well taken, and as one who does not have to wade in that stuff all the time, I do understand where you are coming from.

    I know I am no freaking genius, but just from reading this stuff makes me wonder how it could be published. That said, as much as I hate this stuff, I should read it before I comment, and hell yeah I got them el cheapo, as I have no interest in putting money in their pockets. 🙂

    As for Korda’s book on Grant, it still bothers me that the one time CSPAN came to tape one of our RT meetings, it was when he spoke here. It has embarrassed the hell outta me to this day. I have watched the program, and can see myself on the TV screen shaking my head while he spoke. Like you, I would rather watch Frasier running around the bar with scissors, than to be subjected to a program like that again. 🙂

    Am not one for sitting back either. When I see crap, I will label it crap. In this instance I have not added to the chorus because I have not read Carhart’s book yet. That’s all I meant to say.

    Hope all is well.

    Regards from the Garden State,

    Steve Basic

  10. Steve Basic
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 1:52 am

    J.D.,

    LOL…”The Facts Of Life”…? That’s even scarier than me reading Carhart’s book. LOL 😉

    Hope all is well.

    Steve

  11. Jim Morgan
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 7:55 am

    Brooks Simpson wrote: “Trust me, if I could have the thirty minutes of my life back spent reading Michael Korda’s horrendous biography of Grant, I could have at least watched another Cheers rerun.”

    Lots worse ways to spend your time. Cheers is the second best sitcom ever to appear on American TV. The Andy Griffith Show is the first.

    Cheers,
    Jim Morgan

  12. Brooks Simpson
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 2:46 pm

    Steve–

    As to how commercial stuff gets published … it’s all marketing after the proposal, which no one checks out to see whether the claims made therein are true.

    And, of course, trade presses like the word “definitive,” no matter what a crock that is (and I say this knowing full well that the word appears on the front flap of a certain Grant biography of which I’m somewhat fond).

    There are presses which straddle the line between commerce and scholarship. Recently I read a proposal for one such press, and the proposal was more of a marketing/publicity exercise than anything else. I pointed out that given the tastes of some readers, the book would sell well enough, but that its contents would be panned. I’ll be interested to see whether it will be published.

    And, yes, I think it wise not to comment in detail on books one has not read, so I understand your position. That separates you from so many people who post on various usenet and Yahoo groups. 🙂

    As for Andy Griffith, Mt. Airy, and all that, my wife lived up there for several years, and she’s amused at Pilot Mountian’s failure to take advantage of the commercial opportunities.

  13. Jim Morgan
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 3:51 pm

    Serious question.

    I’ve not read Carhart’s book. Hadn’t ever heard of it before reading this thread. In light of the comments on here, I’m really puzzled by the endorsements of Carhart’s book by James McPherson and Sir John Keegan.

    Here are their endorsements taken from Carhart’s website:

    “No historian before Carhart has pieced together the whole story. . . . Given the vast number of writings about Gettysburg, it seems impossible to come up with new information and insights about the battle. But Tom Carhart has done it.” —James McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom (See more excerpts from the foreword by James M. McPherson.)

    “Tom Carhart sheds new light on the grandest battle of the Civil War, a remarkable achievement by any military historian.”
    —Sir John Keegan, author of The Face of Battle and Six Armies in Normandy

    Both of these respected historians say that Carhart has brought something new to the Gettysburg story. Yet the consensus on here seems to be that, not only has he not done so but that he’s done nothing more than rehash some very old, already debunked, theories and may well have plagiarized from previous authors.

    What’s going on here? I’m confused.

    Jim Morgan

  14. Thu 24th May 2007 at 4:12 pm

    Jim,

    Sadly, you’ve hit the nail right on the head. As for McPherson, he was Carhart’s Ph.D. advisor and they have a relationship. As for Keegan, who knows. All I can say is that he’s not a Civil War guy and simply may not know.

    Take a good look at the reviews of the book. You can find one on the Civil War News web site by David Riggs, who has published a book on East Cavalry Field, and who is very knowledgeable.

    Or here’s where you can find the one that I wrote that was one of the very first posts on this blog back in September 2005.

    Eric

  15. Brooks Simpson
    Thu 24th May 2007 at 5:00 pm

    As a PhD advisor for several students, I make it a rule NOT to blurb their books or to review their books. That would appear to be simple, no? The conflict-of-interest charge is too clear.

    Not everyone follows this rule. An incredibly famous historian used to review the books of people where he had served as their dissertation advisor, including books completed first as dissertations under his supervision. You can see how it might be impossible to avoid conflict of interest in the latter case. 🙂

    The book in question was not a dissertation.

  16. Fri 25th May 2007 at 9:52 am

    I wonder if McPherson is as regretful of his imprimatur of Carhart’s book as he is of Dave Eicher’s book – the Gettysburg photo study where Eicher simply stole most of Frassanito’s pictures….?

    I’m sure McPherson has heard at least some of the negative reviews of Carhart’s book. Eric, you should recount for the folks your conversation with Carhart last year… 🙂

    J.D.

  17. Jim Morgan
    Fri 25th May 2007 at 11:39 am

    J. D. wrote … “I’m sure McPherson has heard at least some of the negative reviews of Carhart’s book. Eric, you should recount for the folks your conversation with Carhart last year.”

    C’mon, Eric. Give!

    Jim

  18. Brooks Simpson
    Fri 25th May 2007 at 12:01 pm

    FWIW, McPherson did express regret (and more) concerning the Eicher incident.

  19. Brooks Simpson
    Fri 25th May 2007 at 12:04 pm

    I’m sure Eric, J. D., and others are aware of this, but for those who are not:

    http://www.civilwarphotography.org/newsletters/Vol2Iss1.pdf

    Go to page 2.

  20. cibola2
    Mon 28th May 2007 at 12:34 pm

    Carhart’s career at West Point is discussed in Atkinson’s The Long Gray Line. While a cadet, Carhart stole Navy’s goat.

  21. Cibola2
    Tue 29th May 2007 at 8:43 am

    Note that Atkinson is among the list of favorable reviewers compiled by Venson and located at http://www.roberteleecwrt.com/Carhart_Praise.doc:

    “Tom Carhart sheds new light on the grandest battle of the Civil War, a remarkable achievement by any military historian”
    —John Keegan, author of The Iraq War

    “A lively and innovative interpretation of the greatest battle ever waged on American soil. Written with verve and a keen eye for the telling detail, Lost Triumph brings to life both the battlefield and the remarkable men who fought there. Tom Carhart has given us not only a fine work of scholarship, but a fine story.”
    —Rick Atkinson, author of An Army at Dawn

    “With Lost Triumph, West Pointer Tom Carhart swats a stupendous, historical, out-of-the-park four-bagger. History is seldom page-turning; here, the true events of Gettysburg compose a thriller. Dr. Carhart makes the case for revolutionizing our understanding of the decisive engagement of the Civil War; elevates the renown of Robert E. Lee; improbably reanimates the reputation of George Armstrong Custer; and shows us how history should be analyzed, challenged, proven and taught.
    On the way, he condenses the complexities of the military art into entertainingly digestible bites.”
    —Gus Lee, author of China Boy, Honor and Duty and Chasing Hepburn.

    “Lost Triumph is an exciting, wonderful book rivaling anything yet written about the battle of Gettysburg. It is mandatory reading for Civil War buffs. I have always wondered why General Lee ordered that fateful attack when and where he did. Now I know. Thanks to Tom Carhart’s exemplary new research and his knowledge of military matters, Lost Triumph presents the first comprehensive view of Lee’s previously unknown plan to win the battle.”
    —Bruce Lee, author of Marching Orders: The Untold Story of World War II

    “Few generals were as brilliant as Robert E. Lee and few battles as titanic — and puzzling — as Gettysburg. Why did Lee fail? In Lost Triumph, Tom Carhart offers a bold and provocative new assessment. Agree or disagree, it is sure to stimulate debate among even the most seasoned Civil War buffs.”
    —Jay Winik, author of April 1865: The Month That Saved America

    “Provocative and exciting. A very good read.”
    — Gabor Boritt, Director, Civil War Institute, Gettysburg College

    “A mark of true genius is a writer’s ability to show us the familiar in a new light. Tom Carhart does just that in Lost Triumph, an original and refreshing look at Lee’s strategic thinking at Gettysburg that is sure to set the standard view of that battle on its head. But the genuinely breathtaking aspect of this book is the way Carhart takes his brush to the tarnished image of George Armstrong Custer. Lost Triumph is truly a ground-breaking contribution to American military history.”
    —Dan Cragg, author of Generals in Muddy Boots and Top Sergeant

    “Lost Triumph sets forth an intriguing theory and goes on to prove that it might just have been possible for General Lee to defeat the Union Army at Gettysburg but for the intervention of George Armstrong Custer. Tom Carhart’s grasp of the Civil War is firm, and his writing is lucid and has splendid pace.”
    —Gail Frey Borden, author of Easter Day, 1941

    “After 142 years of common belief that Robert E. Lee’s battlefield brilliance had somehow failed him in the decisive battle of Gettysburg, Tom Carhart, a West Pointer and noted historian who knows firsthand the blood and guts and chaos of war as a combat soldier in Viet Nam, has remarkably broken the code and now rewrites history so that we might finally understand what really happened there. Stunning. Brilliant.”
    —Gil Dorland, author of Legacy of Discord: Voices of the Vietnam War Era

    “Read any of the hundreds of books on Gettysburg-better yet, walk the route of Pickett’s Charge-and you’ll wonder what Lee was thinking when he sent those men across that deadly field. Tom Carhart has an answer. A gifted storyteller, Carhart recreates an entire world and leads us firmly to the far right of the Union line. Lee didn’t lose a triumph at Gettysburg; an impetuous young Federal cavalry general named Custer and his blue-coated horsemen snatched it away.”
    — Ed Ruggero, author of Combat Jump: The Young Men Who Led the Assault Into Fortress Europe, July 1943

    “Tom Carhart brings a soldier’s perspective to his analysis of Lee’s tactical thinking at Gettysburg. Whether or not you accept Carhart’s conclusions about JEB Stuart’s role in Pickett’s disastrous charge, his command of the principles of mounted combat are superb, and his descriptions of the actions of Stuart’s Confederate cavalry and Custer’s Union cavalry are filled with new insights. Carhart convincingly shows that Custer was at the right place at the right time at Gettysburg, even if that were not the case 13 years later on that grassy hillside overlooking the Little Bighorn in Montana.”
    —Col. (ret.) Michael D. Mahler, author of Ringed in Steel—Armored Cavalry, Vietnam 1967-1968

    “Students of military history have long wondered why, on July 3rd, 1863, during the Battle of Gettysburg, General Robert E. Lee launched the attack against the center of the Union Army’s defenses. This attack, known as Pickett’s Charge, turned out to be a suicidal effort that had disastrous results for the Army of Northern Virginia in the short term, and ultimately to the overall cause of the Confederacy. Tom Carhart offers a fresh and compelling explanation for Lee’s decision in Lost Triumph. Fast paced, well researched, and provocative — this a book that is a must read for Civil War historians, and an entertaining read for those having only a casual interest in the greatest conflict in our Nation’s history. Tom Carhart is not only a scholar, he is a West Point graduate who served as a young officer in Vietnam. Tom writes with a soldier’s perspective — an understanding of tactics and the complexities of command / battlefield decision-making. He is one who has known the sounds, the smells and the fears of battle. These unique insights come through in Lost Triumph, adding realism and authenticity to his work”.
    —Ronald H. Griffith, General (Retired), U.S. Army

    “Why Robert E. Lee, a brilliant commander and tactician, ordered a tragically failed frontal attack by 15,000 Confederate foot soldiers at Gettysburg has been an unsettling mystery to most military history buffs. One hundred forty years later, Lost Triumph provides a plausible answer. Tom Carhart’s analysis brings the rolling hills of Pennsylvania to life for those who enjoy unraveling history’s mysteries. Truly a great book for those who follow military history.”
    —Edward C. Meyer, General (Retired), U.S. Army

    **Of course, the question is “who’s right on this,” the above-noted reviewers OR the commenters on civilwarcavalry?

  22. Tue 29th May 2007 at 11:27 am

    Lawrence,

    My issue with all of those blurbs is that only one–Gabor Borit–is by someone recognized as a Civil War historian. None of the others would have any reason to know of the Brooke-Rawle writings you’ve identified. And Gabor is a Lincoln scholar, not someone who is a tactical details guy. Winik is a journalist who has written a single book on a single month of the war and is not an x’s and o’s guy, either.

    Why is it that none of the Civil War scholars have embraced this theory?

    Eric

  23. Cibola2
    Tue 29th May 2007 at 1:44 pm

    For some reason, Venson did not include McPherson’s praise, and he IS a Civil War historian, tho connected (through Princeton) to Carhart, but, as noted above, Carhart’s Ph.D. thesis was not about the Civil War. A conflict of sorts, which should have been mentioned.

    As to embracing the theory, there are, as noted above, no facts to support the Carhart theory, so any Civil War scholar might have difficulty. But Carhart may be more into the “selling books” business than into Civil War scholarship (as you have noted, there is no bibliography and no detailed footnoting, so this doesn’t have the appearance of scholarship). Carhart’s book could be a new Civil War genre, not flagrantly fictional as Kantor’s “If the South had Won…”, but put forth on non-existent facts to implicate a world “If Lee’s real plan had been executed…”

    If reaching “many” people is the goal, Carhart may have succeeded, because there are probably more readers/buyers who think Carhart is right than those who have looked at civilwarcavalry and know he is neither correct nor original. These tricked people may have been helped to such end by reviewers such as noted in the previous post. This brings up another question. What is the responsibility of reviewers (including McPherson) to readers when tossing about words such as novel, original, and never before?
    Do potential readers understand that these reviews are merely puffery, or do the readers have some expectation of “truth in review”?

  24. Tue 29th May 2007 at 7:46 pm

    Lawrence,

    My problem with it, of course, is that spreading fallacies misleeads the public and causes the less knowledgeable to buy into BS. That’s my huge problem with this whole thing.

    As an author myself, my experience is that folks who read those blurbs assume that if someone blurbed it, it must be a great book. Never mind that none of these folks are Civil War people….

    Eric

  25. cibola2
    Wed 30th May 2007 at 12:22 pm

    So, blurbing without background is bothersome? What is McPherson’s excuse?

  26. Cibola2
    Thu 31st May 2007 at 12:38 pm

    Two other questions.

    #1. One thing Carhart’s book stressed (that Walker did not) was the impact of the West Point curriculum on Lee’s thinking. But that angle is covered in Troy Harman’s, Lee’s Real Plan at Gettysburg. Is there anything of significance that is in Carhart’s book that is not in Walker + Harman?

    #2. Brooke-Rawle’s piece published in 1878 (which basically considers what Walker and Carhart proposed as “obvious”) seemed to have been motivated by something McLellan wrote to the effect that the Confederates won the cavalry battle (it’s a little unclear in Rawle’s text). Does anybody know the reason which caused Rawle to write his article?

  27. Mon 04th Jun 2007 at 3:33 pm

    Lawrence,

    Forgive me for the delay in responding. This slipped by me.

    The answer to your first question is I am not aware of anything.

    The answer to your second question is that Brooke-Rawle wrote that piece for the dedication of the monument to the 3rd Pennsylvania Cavalry on ECF. That was his speech at the dedication ceremony.

    Eric

  28. Cibola2
    Fri 15th Jun 2007 at 12:41 pm

    Thanks for the response. As to question #2, I suspect the Brooke-Rawle book was written after the dedication ceremony and included some interplay between McClellan and Brooke-Rawle that happened after the ceremony, which interplay was quite polite by 21st century standards, but still with an edge.

    Merely fyi:

    From the bottom of page 5 of Brooke-Rawle’s “The Right Flank…”

    It has been insinuated by a gallant Confederate officer (Major H.B. McClellan, Assistant Adjutant General on the [page 6] staff of General J.E.B. Stuart), who, if indeed he were present, might be presumed to have been in a position to judge correctly, that the cavalry operations on the right flank of Gettysburg resulted victoriously for his cause. That this was not the case will be shown conclusively.

    which may have been written in response to text from McClellan (“The Life and Campaigns of Major-General JEB Stuart”) including:

    This battle has been described from the Federal stand-point by Colonel William Brooke-Rawle, in an address delivered at the dedication of the monumental shaft which marks the scene of the engagement. This address is characterized by a spirit of fairness and an accuracy of description which are worthy of imitation. It is only in regard to the result of the last mêlée that many surviving Confederate cavalrymen demand that I shall present their testimony. Colonel Brooke-Rawle says:–

    As Hart’s squadron and other small parties charged in from all sides, the enemy turned. Then there was a pell-mell rush, our men following in close pursuit. Many prisoners were captured, and many of our men, through their impetuosity, were carried away by the overpowering current of the retreat. The pursuit was kept up past Rummel’s, and the enemy was driven back into the woods beyond. The line of fences, and the farm-buildings, the key-point of the field, which in the beginning of the fight had been in the possession of the enemy, remained in ours until the end.

    I have not been able to find any Confederate who will corroborate this statement: on the contrary, all the testimony on that side indicates a result successful to the Confederates in the last charge. It is not just to say that this arises from a disposition on the part of the Southern cavalrymen to claim uniform victory for themselves; for they have put on record many instances of candid acknowledgment of defeat. Moreover, it is improbable that Federal skirmishers could have held possession of the Rummel barn: for that building was not more than three hundred yards from the woods from which Jenkins’ and Chambliss’ brigades debouched for the fight, and on the edge of which the Confederate cavalry and artillery held position until the close of the day. And yet it was more than half a mile from the Lott house, which was, perhaps, the nearest point where any Federal cavalry were visible. If Federal skirmishers held the Rummel barn they concealed their presence; otherwise their capture would have been effected before aid could have been sent to them.

  29. Cibola2
    Sun 01st Jul 2007 at 9:01 am

    For a discussion of a different review of Carhart’s book (by Bell), see

    http://ipbiz.blogspot.com/2007/06/what-was-jeb-stuart-really-doing-on.html

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