From a reader:
Jonah, I agree completely that this was a book that needed to be written. Hopefully there are some scholars out there that will see the great interest in this subject (and the fleet of pimped out Cadillacs, gold teeth, etc. that you will surely be buying with your book sales money), and they will investigate your thesis in a credible way. I think you are credible, of course. But I, like you, do not have a doctorate so my opinion is of course also worthless.
Me: I’ll post more on this later and discuss it more in my bibliographic essay when I finally get it up on the site. But two points are worth making now. Lots of lefty blogs accuse me of not being a historian or a scholar. Guilty as charged, I suppose. What, exactly, this means is worth a longer discussion. But it’s not obvious to me that it reflects well on professional historians that it fell to me to point out some of the things in my book to general readers. But it’s worth reiterating that there are quite a few respected historians who’ve covered much of the same territory. Wolfgang Schivelbusch’s Three New Deals covers much of the same territory as my FDR chapter (or at least confirms many of the core arguments). Leftwing bloggers insist I’m all alone in saying what I say on that score. They should be asked to deal with Schivelbusch’s book. They should also deal with John Patrick Diggins’ Mussolini and Fascism: The View From America, Goetz Aly, A. James Gregor, David Schoenbaum, Erik Von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, Paul Johnson, George Veith, and many others. And this brings me to another point. I hear a lot of griping about the cover and title of the book, and as I’ve said, I understand where people are coming from on that score. But my sympathy for the complaint is pretty limited. First of all, the cover is playful and smart. The title is perfectly on point as it’s H.G. Wells’ phrase. Lots of scholars have made similar arguments I’ve made (though nobody all in one place and with the detail my book has). And those books have simply vanished from the public discourse. Yes, there’s an in-your-face aspect to the cover and title, but it seems pretty clear to me that the attention-grabbing nature of the packaging is justified, precisely because so many people think I’m the only person to say what I say in the book. Everyone else who’s said it has been conveniently swept under the rug (with the possible exception of Paul Johnson). When you’re trying to smash conventional wisdom the way I am, it’s hard to do that smashing entirely with a feather quill. Anyway, more on this later. Back to primary-result watching.