Book Controversy

by Fred Ray on September 4, 2006 · 0 comments

It begins like this:

Gettysburg Battlefield: The Definitive Illustrated History, by David J. Eicher (Chronicle Books, 2003), with an introduction by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Dr. James M. McPherson, is a 296-page, coffee table-sized book that was billed as “the ultimate pictorial Civil War record.”Instead, Eicher’s book became hopelessly mired in a photo-piracy scandal that eventually led to McPherson’s repudiation of the book, which features his name prominently on the cover.

The Center for Civil War Photography has quite a lot of information regarding the scandal over Eicher’s book, which came about about after author William Frassanito accused Eicher of scanning several photos from his books on Gettysburg. I don’t know enough about it to take sides, but I do know that given Frassanito’s detective skills and familiarity with the sources, I’d hate to have him on my case. James McPherson, who wrote the introduction, evidently felt that there was enough there to withdraw his name from the project.

In related news, the Library of Congress has made many of these images available for download at high resolutions. I used several in my book and they worked just fine.

One of my acquisitions at Gettysburg is what seems to be the defninitive book on the subject: Devil’s Den: A History and Guide by Garry Adelman and Timothy Smith. Hope to be able to review this shortly.

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