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The E-Sylum: Volume 3, Number 42, October 15, 2000, Article 6


To continue our compilation of "Devastating Reviews" of numismatic books (as initiated by Tom Fort), your editor found this review in his "research archives" (i.e. "pile of unsorted miscellaneous stuff he could never bring himself to throw away..."

The February, 1986 issue of Bank Note Reporter contained a review by Dr. Douglas Ball of "Graybacks and Gold: Confederate Monetary Policy" by James F. Morgan, Perdido Bay Press, Pensacola, FL. 1985:

Headlined "Book on Confederate Money Has Serious Flaws", the review began: "Having written my own doctoral thesis on the theoretical and policy making aspects of Confederate finance, I was looking forward to reading this work. But having done so, I must regretfully report that it is so seriously flawed as to render it practically useless, if not positively misleading.

For starters, the book title itself is both erroneous and misleading. The Confederate currency was popularly known as "blue backs," not "graybacks." Indeed, the term "graybacks" was a term used by both armies for the ever-present scourge of lice."

Dr. Ball enumerates several flaws. One example: "he declares that Secretary Memminger was an enthusiastic advocate of fiat paper money and an enemy of coin and coinage. Memminger, as a matter of well-known record, was the hardest of hard money Jacksonian Democrats."

"I can understand how this thesis might have got by the student. What puzzles me is how it got past a faculty advisor, two other readers, and then the Perdido Press.

Perhaps as some of the faculty members suggested during my recent visit to the University of Oklahoma campus, it is time that Oklahoma devoted the same energy and money to the University's academic programs that they do to its athletic ones."

Wayne Homren, Editor

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