But there are multiple digressions in the book that are not necessary and details that are simply numbing, not informative. A good editor could chop 100 pages out of the book (it weighs in at 800+) and no one would notice. Chernow, though, is an accomplished story-teller, and he has kept me gnawing away at his text, periodically calculating how many pages are left.el V and I have had, and shall continue to have some serious discussions about the length of our books.
The Gordon-Reed book is more problematic. She chose to write about a slave family; the written historical record for slave families is always sparse, even for a relatively privileged slave family like the Hemingses. I am still trying to get through the book because I am learning interesting things from it every now and then, and I value that. But I would guess this one is twice as long as it needs to be.
There have been passages when I was inches from starting to pound the CD player in my car. When she notes that no records survive from John Wales, Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law, she explains in extraordinary detail all the ways in which his papers might have been destroyed. I actually don't care. Just tell me they're gone.
Friday, April 8, 2011
Overlong Works of History
This historian is a practicing attorney as well, thus he knows the relative value of words and their relationship to time/space!