Battlefield and Beyond: A New Book Dedicated to a Wonderful Historian and Valued Mentor

When I began this blog, I said I would shamelessly promote the work of my friends.

The other day, a book arrived on our doorstep.  It is my husband, Michael J. Connolly‘s copy of a book to which he contributed and the publisher finally sent it.  It is The Battlefield and Beyond: Essays on the American Civil War, edited by our friend, Clayton E. Jewett.  While it is super that my husband has published a chapter in this new volume, what made the arrival of this collection of essays on the American Civil War thrilling is that the entire project is dedicated to Jon L. Wakelyn, mentor to my husband in graduate school.  He has continued to act in this capacity since Michael graduated.  (He even takes an interest in my work, and I am just the wife.)  The book was unveiled prior to publication at the Southern Historical Association conference in Baltimore last October.  (It was a surprise to Dr. Wakelyn!)

I have not had a chance to read all of the book.  I have looked at Michael’s chapter, of course.  When the book arrived, I examined it from cover to back (it is a good looking volume–nice dust jacket, with as you can see decent cover art).  I looked through the table of contents and saw our friends (Clayton and another wonderful historian, Kenneth Nivison) and those who have been friends of Dr. Wakelyn.  I read the acknowledgement and the last chapter, “Jon L. Wakelyn’s Contribution,” by Jane Turner Censer Rosemarie Zagarri.

What struck me as I was reading all of these things is the lasting impact Dr. Wakelyn has had on his friends, colleagues, and students–as a historian, a mentor, and friend.  When I began my Ph.D. studies at The Catholic University of America, Dr. Wakelyn was about to start a position at Kent State University, and I did not take any classes with him.  Through my connection with Michael, who I met at CUA, I have been included (in part) in the circle of Wakelyn’s Students who were his last graduate students at my program.  (I had my own group of fellow dissertators.) Everything that is said of Dr. Wakelyn’s mentoring and friendship in The Battlefield and Beyond is absolutely true.   He doggedly encourages his former students’ work and champions their success.   Nothing is more enjoyable than a few hours gathered with Dr. Wakelyn, catching up, talking about our respective history projects, arguing religion and politics, and discussing used bookstores, food, and wine.

As I said, I have not had a chance to read all of the essays.  Louisiana State University Press’s website lists some advanced praise for the book:

Advance Praise for The Battlefield and Beyond

“An impressive range of scholarship and intellectual interests has placed Jon Wakelyn among the most productive and influential historians and teachers of his generation.  Here, Clayton Jewett and the talented group of scholars he has assembled offer studies that do justice to the breadth and depth of Wakelyn’s work by offering fresh insights, notably on the critical intersections of biography with social, military, and political history.”—Eugene D. Genovese, author of Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made

“A fascinating collection of essays celebrating the career of one of the Civil War’s leading scholars, The Battlefield and Beyond illustrates the exceedingly high quality of the current work in the field.”—Brian D. McKnight, author of Confederate Outlaw: Champ Ferguson and the Civil War in Appalachia

You can read more about the book at LSU and you can check out the table of contents here.  Go read the book.  Better yet, go buy the book and read it.  Then buy more copies and give it to all your friends.  (This would be the shameless part of the plug for my friends’ scholarship.)

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