Which Campaign is the Most Interesting to Sfudy?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Hood on Sword Writing About General Hood. Part 1.

Cicero. One of my favorites. Right up there with Pliny the Elder, Socrates, and a handful of others.

Click the image to the right, read it, and then click HERE and absorb Part 1 of 4.

Your comments are welcome and encouraged.


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

John Bell Hood. The Reviews and News Continues . . .

Over at TOCWOC (The Order of Civil War Obsessively Compulsed), Brett Schulte recently published a balanced review you can read HERE . . .

As did Harry Smeltzer at Bull Runnings, which you can read HERE . . .

and another, under Chris Mackowski and Kris White, at their Emerging Civil War blog, which you  you can read HERE.

More is coming on the latter site. A lot more. Eyebrow-raising more. Soon.

And here it is HOOD ON HOOD. Part 1. Start reading what other reviewers have only hinted about. Start HERE.

-- tps

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Magnificent Seven--Kindle E-books on Sale!

While we all have a love-hate relationship with Amazon. But what they do they do very well, and they are not going anywhere. As publishers and authors, we need to learn how to work with them to stay viable, relevant, and profitable.

Once a publisher reaches a respectable size and has good distribution, it becomes easier to work with Amazon, and by that I mean work together to market and sell books. One of their key promotions is Kindle sales.

The steep price drop is for a limited time (in the current case, just for two weeks), but Amazon supports this with email blasts, links, etc., and we do the same. The result is very strong sales, and in some cases eye-popping sales numbers.

(I have reproduced a photo/screenshot of one of our recent emails with seven of our titles currently available in this promotion.)

You do not need a Kindle to read at this price. Just Google and download the Kindle Ap for your reader. Yes, it is that easy.

How beneficial are these promotional activities?

Here is a good example: Steel Boat Iron Hearts: My Life Aboard U-505, by Hans Goebeler with John Vanzo is now in paperback and just a few short months had about 19 Amazon reviews. This is pretty strong for a U-boat book . Average e-book downloads each month were about 35 or so. (This is off the top of my head but I am sure right in the ballpark.) We offered the book for a one-month sales promotion for $2.99 and Amazon accepted our marketing proposal.

We sold well north of 6,000 units in a single month, and 2,000 more the following month at full price. I am the product of a public school education, but I do have a calculator and understand basic math. Even though Amazon takes a big cut, the numbers work.

In addition, we went from 19 reviews to . . .  334 reviews (average 4.4 stars) in just three or so months. It is now the highest rated U-boat book in the world. This exposure increased print sales as well. It is a win-win-win across the board for everyone--Publisher, author, and Amazon.

Click HERE for a link to the Kindle  version to see the reviews.

So please support our authors and publishing program by downloading one or more of these titles, sharing this information on Facebook, and emailing it to your friends and others.

Thanks, as always, for your support.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Gettysburg: The Best Single Volume Treatment? And the Winner is . . .

That was the most recent poll question on this blog, and the results were interesting (to me), but not completely surprising:.

There were 61 unique votes. This is the breakdown:
The Gettysburg Campaign: A Study in Command, by Edwin B. Coddington garnered 42 votes, which translated to 68% of the respondents.
Gettysburg: The Last Invasion, by Allen C. Guelzo, gathered 12 votes for 19%.
Gettysburg, by Stephen W. Sears, earned 6 votes, or 9%
and  Gettysburg: A Testing of Courage, by Noah Andre Trudeau, 1 vote for < 1%.
I am curious . . .If you voted and would like to share your choice and why, I would like to hear from you. If you didn't get a chance to vote, but have an opinion, I would also love to learn it.

My choice is Coddington, even though others have more information now that so much time has passed since EBC wrote his lasting and impactful tome. Perhaps my vote has something to do with the fact that I read it first, it deeply impressed me then, I have read it since (ditto), and I find it wears well with time.



Tuesday, December 3, 2013

(Off Topic) The Only Bass: The Rickenbacker 4003

Well, it's not the only bass, but it is the only bass I could ever play.

I come from a musical family, and played classical piano from early childhood through two years of college. I also played bass, which I picked up in high school after seeing Rush in a small ballroom (about a month before they exploded and got huge). That Ric sound! That OMG voice! Wow! Here is the song that did it for me: Bastille Day. (Turn your volume up to 11, give it a listen, piss of your fellow co-workers, and then come on back and keep reading.)

Classic Rickenbacker 4001 (note darker brown tone compared
to replacement 4003 below)

Me with my 4001 in 1980 (l), and my brother Anthony
(r) on his beloved Les Paul. (He also had an SG), in a club.
I found a 4001 Ric in 1976 for $750 bucks (then), and snapped it up, taught myself, and played it in many bands around the Midwest, bus and all. After my last band broke up, some of our equipment was stolen, including my beloved bass. I didn't replace it. Like a heroin addict, if I had picked one up again I would have dropped out of graduate school and eventually left my family to go back out on the road and play.

Fast forward 35 or so years. I finally broke down and decided to buy a new Rickenbacker 4003 bass (the classic Ric bass that replaces the 4001). Black and maple are easier to find than Fireglo (like mine), which is almost always out of stock. Our local music store is on 12- to 18-month back order for Rick 4003s, and the company won't tell you when they will arrive. These basses are handmade (and they don't produce nearly enough to satisfy demand).

I checked American Musical Supply daily, but they were always on back order. And then, with one page refresh, a Fireglo popped up, with a notation that it was "hurt." The price was way below retail ($1,599 including expensive custom case instead of $2,399.) I used online chat and the person said it would be a tiny mar or scratch, would likely not be visible anywhere, shipping was free, and I had 60 days to return it (shipping free back, too). How could I lose?

I ordered it. When it got here, I opened the case and studied the bass. I could not find a thing wrong with it. Nothing. Then I noticed that the case had a small scratch/mar. I think that was the issue. (I have been told by people in the business who know more than me that someone who works in the warehouse combined the SKU numbers, scratched the case, posted it as "hurt" and someone else he knows was supposed to snatch it up and then sell it and pockets the money. I was offered $1,000 more than I paid a week after I got it. And it has only gone up in value.)

The finish is amazing. It feels like silk. If I could sleep comfortably with it, I would.

The new 4003 Rickenbacker bass.
As the online description notes, the 4003 is famous for its "ringing sustain, treble punch and solid underlying bass tones that made Rickenbacker a household name." Indeed. A subtle strip of binding graces the elegantly curved body and the Rosewood fingerboard. Deluxe triangular inlays and stereo capability are standard features. The 4003 has a Vintage Tone Selector, an additional control included standard.

(Prior to 1984, Rickenbacker basses utilized a capacitor in the treble pickup circuit to emphasize treble tones coming from that pickup. However, changes in tone preference and a call for higher output led RIC to discontinue the use of this capacitor in favor of a more balanced sound. Nevertheless many users added this capacitor back into the circuit, experimenting with and sometimes preferring the sound of the older configuration, despite the resulting drop in volume.).

I haven't put the capacitor back in, but with the classic tone selector, I really don't need to. With a simple pull of the treble tone control, the Vintage Tone Selector will allow a player to move between both sounds at the drop of a hat. Pressed in, you'll hear the familiar balanced tone of the 4003, while pulled out to engage the circuit, you'll appreciate the bite and crispness popularized by such artists as Chris Squire and Getty Lee.

Now, if I could only play like I used to. I am currently rehearsing with my brother (who played with me in my last two bands) and another great high school guitarist named Sasha to play this weekend at a recital. We are playing "Hotel California" with my brother's instructor Eddie--who can play well anything with strings. The song includes a great back and forth extended guitar solo session.

We might put a band together for some fun on the weekends, as there are several clubs out here where amateur bands play 4-5 songs each.

I have already named the group: The Hip Replacements.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Reviews and Critiques and Sharp Words (oh my)

Well, I just watched the Wizard of OZ, so . . .

I think the words I used for the post about Dr. Emberton's review of our Hood book were ill-chosen. Going public on this is not my modus operandi in the publishing arena. 

I still think the review is unfair, but Professor Emberton has a right to write whatever she wishes and readers will make their own decisions by reading the book--or not.

I don't know Dr. Emberton, but I hear she is a fine lady and an outstanding instructor. I am sure that is true on both counts.

I hope all of my readers had a good, happy, and safe Thanksgiving.



Friday, November 29, 2013

Did Professor Carole Emberton Read the Book She Just Reviewed?

Some book reviews are positive, some are mixed, and some are negative. This is true for nearly all books, and that's the nature
of the beast and goes along with the territory.

All any publisher and author ask is that a reviewer actually read the book before reviewing it, and then assess it honestly for what it is, and what it is not.

John Bell Hood: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of a Confederate General, by Stephen Hood, raises the hackles a lot of people because it calls out many academicians and general students of the war by name and produces one example after another of sloppy scholarship, reliance on secondary sources that are themselves incorrect in matters of fact, mistakes, misrepresentations--and in some cases, even worse.

Readers will decide whether the author makes his case or not. It is interesting to note that of the 60 or so reviews floating around thus far, not a single one alleges or points out that the author was wrong in how he cited a historian, or that a footnote (of which there are about 1,000) was wrong, or that a quote was wrong, etc. Not a single one.

Carole Emberton, an associate professor of history at the University of Buffalo (SUNY), recently reviewed John Bell Hood for The Civil War Monitor (an outstanding publication, by the way). Read her review here. It is a strange review brought to my attention by many readers. It made me wonder, "Did this reviewer even bother to read the book--or even the dust jacker?--before going out of her way to slam it?"

Is that a fair question? Here are two very troubling indicator:

1) She thinks it is a biography (all of you who have read this know it is clearly not a biography in any sense of the word), and she thinks the author is a biographer (ditto). 

2) More telling, however, is this little revealing gem:

"In his effort to resuscitate General Hood's reputation as a competent if not talented commander who did his best in impossible situations, the author spends far more time and energy skewering those historians than he does giving the reader a new or at least more nuanced interpretation of General Hood."

Why yes, Dr. Emberton, he does "spend far more time and energy" (note the italics above) on what others have written about Hood. As my teenage son might say, professor . . . DUH! In fact, that is the purpose of the entire book. and the book has absolutely NOTHING to do with the part that is in bold-italics above. Nothing. At. All. If she had read the Introduction, the author explains all this there in deep detail, and he mentions it again and again throughout the book.

She even criticizes the way the book is organized, when it fact, it is organized by topic to present how others have covered the topic in question. Again, discussed throughout.

Even the dust jacket explains it.

Now, I don't really give a damn if someone slams one of our books, so long as they have read it, and have legitimate complaints. Cites are wrong? Major collections not included? Too many typos and other mistakes? Incorrect maps? That is fair, and that is how it should be.

But I question whether this professor read this book, because she went out of her way to produce a hatchet job on a book that does not exist. Did she read it? I don't know with certainty either way. Why did she she write what she did (and I urge you to read the entire review) if she read the book. This book is replete with explanations addressing these very things--on the jacket, on the publisher's website, in the Introduction, and scattered throughout.

The author wrote his own rebuttal, which you can find in the same location below her "review." You will have to be the judge whether or not she read the book and whether or not this is fair review.