Michael Bellesiles has a new book out. In light of his public humiliation for being exposed as a fraud, the last thing you would think to do is remind everyone of it:
1877 is also notable as the comeback book for a celebrated U.S. historian. Michael Bellesiles is perhaps most famous as the target of an infamous “swiftboating” campaign by the National Rifle Association, following the publication of his Bancroft Prize-winning book Arming America (Knopf, 2000) — “the best kind of non-fiction,” according to the Chicago Tribune — which made daring claims about gun ownership in early America. In what became the history profession’s most talked-about and notorious case of the past generation, Arming America was eventually discredited after an unprecedented and controversial review called into question its sources, charges which Bellesiles and his many prominent supporters have always rejected.”I'm just amazed. Maybe 1877 is a fine book. But the extent of his exposure from scholars across the spectrum was so overwhelming that the smartest thing he could do is not remind anyone of Arming America. It's rather like deciding to go straight--but include a copy of the Wanted poster for bank robbery with your resume. The History News Network coverage includes this:
Randolph Roth, who teaches at The Ohio State University, had this to say:I hope and expect that Michael Bellesiles' new book will be judged on its merits. I am disappointed, however, in the promotional campaign for the book. Mr. Bellesiles may indeed have been the target of the NRA's ire, but he was not "swift-boated" by anyone. Many people found Arming America deeply flawed—among them scholars of unquestioned skill and integrity such as James Lindgren, Gloria Main, Laurel Ulrich, and Clayton Cramer. Some of them are conservatives, some liberals, some contrarians, but they all followed the evidence where it led, regardless of their personal views about guns or gun control. The evidence, quantitative and qualitative, undid Arming America.