Silbey Grades Burstein and Isenberg

You may recall our recent post on Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg’s Salon piece on why journalists should not write history.  Borrowing from Kevin Levin’s critique of the piece, I entitled my post “This is So Incredibly Bitter.”

David Silbey of The Edge of the American West and Cornell University has also responded to Burstein and Isenberg’s essay.  In a post entitled “Seven Questions and Comments I Might Write If This Salon Article On ‘America’s Worst Historians’ Was A Student Paper And I Was Grading It,” Silbey writes:

1. Why do you assert that journalists aren’t able “to investigate in depth”? Whether they do it well or badly, isn’t that exactly what they’re trained to do?

2. You claim to be talking about journalists, but, as you note, your two lead examples (Doris Kearns Goodwin and Fareed Zakaria) are both political science Ph.Ds. Are you critiquing journalism or political science?

3. You cite Peter Hoffer’s Past Imperfect to criticize Doris Kearns Goodwin. How does Hoffer’s discussion of Joseph Ellis in the same book affect your argument? How does Jon Wiener’s approach in Historians in Trouble differ from Hoffer’s?

4. In your comment “David McCullough, formerly of Sports Illustrated,” what is the connection to SI intended to evoke?

Read the rest here.  HT: Jacksonian America