Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Shabby book for neo-Confederate Tom Landess, "Life, Literature, Lincoln: A Tom Landess Reader."

I recently ordered "Life, Literature, Lincoln: a Tom Landess Reader," for my research. I thought it would be good to have a book of Tom Landess' writings and some biographical information. Tom Landess wrote a lot for Southern Partisan and was a significant figure in the neo-Confederate movement. The book was edited by Clyde N. Wilson & Mary Beth Landess.

It is a shabby book. That is to say it is physically poorly done. It is poorly edited.

The book is a print-on-demand book, which is allowable. The problem with print-on-demand books is that the print is somewhat glossy so you have to be careful regarding your lighting, that it be diffuse so the print is easily readable.  However, did Chronicles magazine decide they weren't going to risk even a short printing run? Was there no money to do so? It is an inexpensively printed book and I will want to make sure I don't stress the book's binding.

However, the real shoddiness of the book is the contents of the book. There is a series of items written by Tom Landess. However, there is no indication where and when the item was first printed. The essays exist ahistorically in the book, abandoned outside the stream of time. An important element of Tom Landess' intellectual history is missing. You have no idea of his scope or impact, the byways or highways he traveled.

The University of Missouri was reorganized in 2013 and maybe they are no longer publishing books by or about racist crackpots, such as they did regarding M.E. Bradford. So without a university press, books like this book of the writings of Tom Landess is what is in store for other neo-Confederates when they pass away, if they get any book at all.

One thought I had was that the editors were embarrassed by where Landess had been published, but Wilson's foreward mentions as a positive accomplishment that Landess wrote much of Southern Partisan. Perhaps by not having the time and place of publication Wilson thought he would make Landess timeless and not dated. Instead it is lost in time. We just know that the material was likely written after high school graduation and before his death.

Maybe the Southern Agrarian, M.E. Bradford strategy of forming a Southern nationalism drawing on a historical narrative of the Confederacy is drawing to a close and this book is the first manifestation. There still is the Abbeville Institute, it will be interesting to if it is there in 15 years when a lot of its contributors pass away.

I am thinking more and more that in the future neo-Confederacy will be largely confined to the Sons of Confederate Veterans and the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Outside them there largely won't be a neo-Confederate movement.

One thing is that scholars now recognize neo-Confederacy when they see it and neo-Confederacy has a name, and there is less and less toleration for it.  The Southern Studies of people like John Shelton Reed is recognized for what it is. Academic publications and presses just aren't going to be interested anymore.

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