Gutenberg-e: Electronic Entry to the Historical Professoriate

The Gutenberg-e project, publishing revisions of prize-winning dissertations as electronic books, has released eleven works as of this writing. Even in a world of widespread experimentation with electronic publishing, this collaboration of Columbia University Press and the American Historical Association (AHA) is a distinctive initiative because it combines electronic access with attention to outstanding junior scholars.[1] With over a third of the projected works now online, it has become feasible to assess the program’s relative strength and promise. This essay reviews the e-books and the project that has produced them. The effort of Gutenberg-e to update the form of first books in history, itself a big step, ends up revealing dilemmas as much as generating progress in the discipline of history. One dilemma lies in setting the balance in historical publication among print and electronic works, books and articles, monographs and syntheses. A second dilemma poses the question of whether graduate education should prepare new historians to focus on field-specific monographic research or on a wider range of professional responsibilities. Thus the books and the project mark an important turning point, though not a definitive step forward, for the discipline of history. The e-books themselves provide an intriguing sample of work by scholars entering the historical profession and thereby provoke reflection going beyond the works themselves. The very task of reviewing eleven works in four distinct fields of history stretches the usual standards for review: it leads the reviewer to consider questions within the various fields of history but also questions on interpreting modern history as a whole.

The topics of these eleven works, if listed in chronological order, provide a stylized narrative of key issues in the modern world. The narrative begins with urban centers in fifteenth-century Spain and continues to Indian cities in the twenty-first century. Cities of fifteenth-century Aragon, with overlapping communities of Christians, Jews, and Muslims, sought valiantly if unsuccessfully to maintain their complex identity in the face of an Inquisition and a monarchy determined to purify them.[2] The extension of Castilian monarchy to sixteenth-century Mexico brought the creation of women’s institutions as part of the colonial order: monasteries and schools proliferated and provided models for the colonial elite.[3] In seventeenth-century Panama, the Tule population of Darién, nominally subordinate to Spain but in contact with passing groups of Spanish priests and other European adventurers, maintained its initiative in dealing with visitors and thus gave a continuity to the region’s social history.[4] In an increasingly worldly Europe, playwrights of eighteenth-century France wrote for steadily broader audiences yet still focused on gaining acceptance of Old Regime authorities in order to achieve performance of their plays at the Comédie Française.[5] The young Napoleon I, at the end of the eighteenth century, changed the nature of public performance with brilliant propaganda that magnified and, in some cases, created his victories.[6] British imperial power, encompassing all of South Asia in the nineteenth century, created and imposed new categories for the colonized, yet the Telugu-speaking people of South India responded with categories of their own that served to reaffirm and revise their identity.[7]

Then with the cataclysm of war among the Great Powers in 1914, each segment of the military had to adjust to changing technology and tactics: leaders of the British artillery patiently fit into a larger system of command that did not use them to best advantage.[8] In the succeeding and smaller yet pivotal Spanish civil war, the rising Soviet regime moved late in the game to provide military and cultural support to the republicans but simply lacked the resources or the cultural connections to provide effective assistance.[9] The United States developed its own plans for global positioning in the 1940s: Sumner Welles, relying on his experience with earlier U.S. hegemony in Latin America, rose and then fell as a theorist of American neocolonialism.[10] World War II, that greatest and most complex of wars, included in one of its eddies the recruitment of 100,000 non-German soldiers into the German army and SS, though they rarely gained prominence on the battlefront.[11] In a more gradual development throughout the twentieth century, Marwari merchant families of Calcutta created themselves as an ethnic group, and developed remarkable commercial wealth throughout India, sustaining and advancing their community through public ceremonial life based on the cult of sati, with its veneration of suicide by threatened widows.[12]

This episodic narrative of cultural, political, and social change in the modern world hints at possible larger patterns of interaction and change, though the authors do not explicitly address such patterns. The topics, fascinating in their range even in this small sample, reflect the density in the texture of human life. The task of discussing these works poses the choice of discussing them all at once or dividing them, as historians normally do, to address the works within subfields: by region, topic, or time frame. Along a different axis, one can discuss them as contributions to research in general or distinguish them as first books in contrast to other types of research publication. Further, since these works appear in electronic format, this review must discuss both their form and their interpretive substance, and suggest how form and substance interact.

The purpose of bringing these electronic books into existence, as initially expressed in 1999 by AHA President Robert Darnton, was to save the historical monograph. The means to this end were to create competitions to identify and to reward excellent work at dissertation and first-book levels and thereby to enable endangered fields to thrive. From the viewpoint of Columbia University Press, the iniative presented an opportunity to develop a business model for an electronic successor to the university-press monograph of old. From the viewpoint of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which funded the program, it was another aspect of a broad campaign of developing electronic publication in the social sciences. The project, with its cargo of electronic monographs, was thus launched with thoughtful enthusiasm but has had to stay afloat in stormy seas. In the six years since Gutenberg-e was launched, library budgets have tightened, the funding of humanities and social sciences continues to shrink in relative terms, and the expansion of interdisciplinary analysis has reshuffled relations among the disciplines. Most specifically for the discipline of history, the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education published a major report that is provoking substantial rethinking of graduate study for historians.[13]

The Gutenberg-e books make solid contributions to their fields but do not now appear as breakthroughs, either as individual works or as a group. They are technically impressive; they not only translate print works effectively to electronic form but also add significant insights through links among documents. Their electronic form does not yet provide a new sort of interpretation or new ways of reading history. Because of the limited scale of readership, Gutenberg-e is not yet proving to be a successful business model. Nevertheless, the books demonstrate small but significant changes in conceptualization, production, assessment, and distribution. They herald an investment that, if pursued, will lead to learning of many sorts. The books and the project combine to demonstrate a need for deeper review of the profession to address electronic publication, forms of academic publishing, modes of interpreting the past, relations with other disciplines, and the relationships among graduate study, first books, and leadership of the profession. The AHA should sustain the Gutenberg-e project if possible, and historians generally should direct energy to studying the problems revealed by the project.

This essay analyzes the professional, historiographical, and technical issues the program highlights and urges further debate on the Gutenberg-e books.

The Gutenberg-e project began when the AHA and Columbia University Press, with support from the Mellon Foundation, entered into an agreement to conduct a three-year campaign of publishing electronic books based on prize-winning dissertations. Robert Darnton had launched the campaign for a program of electronic publication of first books in a series of articles and talks.[14] In the next year, Darnton offered an optimistic assessment of where the program was headed: “The prizewinners, six a year, stand out as the most talented historians of their generation. The selection procedure is so rigorous that it serves as a guarantee of quality control … Gutenberg-e is … a way of promoting the best in scholarship at a time of crisis.”[15 ]

Darnton’s manifesto was sufficient to gather support for launching the project, and he has remained an enthusiastic proponent and participant. Darnton’s project aimed at saving the monograph, sustaining endangered fields, and renewing the history profession. Good monographs, within existing regional fields, were what we needed to sustain historical scholarship. The process of selecting prize dissertations would locate the best new historians in each field, and reward them and the fields. Collaborative work with an energetic press would be sufficient to transform the prize dissertations into engaging and marketable electronic books. In practice, the work of the project and the reception of its results brought encounters with several major constraints and dilemmas, and revealed assumptions that may not have been evident at first.

For Columbia University Press, the project allowed financial and intellectual investment in creating e-books, working closely with authors to transform print dissertations into electronic monographs. Gutenberg-e fit into the larger investment in electronic publication in social sciences, supported through contributions by the Mellon Foundation. But the difference between translating existing works into electronic form and creating new resources is immense. Electronic versions of existing print journal articles have been highly successful. Work on creating a new monograph is more original but definitely slower and more costly; electronic first books cost more than electronic reprints of existing books. A separate question is whether electronic first books will be cheaper than first books in print. In addition, how will costs be divided between author, publisher, university, purchaser, and reader? What are benefits to each?

The dissertations were to be selected competitively on a range of historical topics. Beginning in 1999, and renewed for a second three-year term in 2002, the AHA has selected an average of six doctoral dissertations a year for the Gutenberg-e awards, which include grants of $20,000 and publication of revised dissertations as e-books by Columbia University Press. With considerable fanfare, awards have been announced annually at the AHA annual meeting, beginning in January 2000.

The approach of Gutenberg-e represents an effort to update the historic mission of university presses: to publish works of scholarly significance for which there may not be a large and remunerative market. The regional, temporal, and topical fields of the competition were selected with an eye to giving prominence and support to areas understood to be significant but not necessarily the most prominent or widely subscribed. The topics were: for 1999, Africa, colonial Latin America, and South Asia; for 2000, Europe before 1800; for 2001, military and foreign relations; for 2002, North America before 1900; and for 2003, women and gender. The final competition in 2004 was open to submissions on all topics.[16] The first three fields of competition were chosen as a part of the grant process (they were identified as “endangered” fields). The last three topics were chosen by the AHA staff. The annual number of applicants ranged from a low of fifteen to a high of forty-two.[17]

Judges were selected by a team of AHA leaders: the judges were senior scholars with specializations in the area of the year’s competition.[18] In the first three years the judges awarded the planned six prizes; judges awarded three prizes in year four and nine in year five.[19] In the sixth year of the competition, 2004, judges had to act as generalists as well as specialists, in that the competition was opened to all topics. One award a year has gone to an “independent historian” not employed as a full-time college historian. Nearly half the applicants fit this category, which is unsurprising in that nearly half of PhD recipients do not move rapidly into full-time employment as historians.

The awardees work closely with the staff at Columbia University Press in designing and producing their books. The current authors meet twice each year in workshops with project director Kate Wittenberg and the staff of the press, Robert Darnton (after his term as AHA president), AHA Research Director Robert Townsend, and AHA Executive Director Arnita Jones.[20] In these workshops the authors faced the conflicting pressures of seeking at once to complete their works and to achieve a maximum of creativity in them. The workshops also have articulated much experience on the promise and pitfalls of electronic monographs that will gradually be disseminated by the participating authors and by the project staff.[21]

Columbia University Press surely deserves recognition and accolades for the originality of this venture into publishing electronic monographs for historians. This press’s early experience with electronic publication helps explain why it was chosen for the Gutenberg-e project.[22] As editorial and technical creations, the e-books can be labeled a success. They demonstrate that the basic model for such e-books is workable; while they contain unmistakable glitches, incremental revisions can easily address most of the existing weaknesses. The pace of publication, though perhaps slower than hoped, suggests that no major difficulties were encountered either on the authorial or the editorial sides of production. The eleven books published as of this writing resulted from the first three competitions, in 1999, 2000, and 2001. They have appeared at an average of less than three years from time of award to publication.[23]

Who pays for these books? This is the question of the “business model” for academic publishing. Sales of the Gutenberg-e books are oriented toward university libraries. Libraries may purchase licenses for the full set of books at $195 per year and make them available online to their patrons.[24] More generally, in one way or another, everyone associated with the books pays for them: the author, the press, the library, and the reader. The author performs the labor of research and writing; the press pays for editing, composition, and design, resources and permissions, printing and maintenance, distribution and promotion. It used to be that the author paid the price of research and writing; the university subsidized some of the press’s cost of editing, design, printing and distribution; and libraries and individual readers paid for the remainder of the press’s costs. Now presses have smaller subsidies, and libraries have tighter budgets.

So far, electronic publishing in history is working better as a way to get access to old work than to new. New monographs are a relatively expensive type of electronic publication, as becomes clear by comparing Gutenberg-e to other electronic publishing projects. In 1994, the Mellon Foundation led in the creation of JSTOR, the journal storage organization. JSTOR launched four initiatives in the arts and sciences to identify major journals and to put all back issues online; history journals were included among the early selections. JSTOR was awarded $3.7 million in grants and then successfully transformed itself into a self-financing nonprofit corporation.[25] In a separate initiative, the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) launched the History E-Book (HEB) Project with two major foci.[26] It focused primarily on scanning major existing books and making them available online: this “backlist” now consists of some 800 books. The second effort was the “frontlist,” to publish new works by senior scholars. The ACLS HEB Project received $3 million in grants; its large backlist provides a substantial revenue stream, while ten works on the frontlist have appeared.[27] All of these initiatives are funded by the Mellon Foundation. Then, in 2000, the History Cooperative formed, providing online publication of current issues in historical journals.[28] The articles available on JSTOR come from a mix of origins, but those in the most prestigious journals come principally from senior scholars. The ACLS HEB Project is dominated overwhelmingly by works of senior scholars. Historians have adapted rapidly to reliance on computers, notably in discussion lists, archives, pedagogy, and journal postings.[29] Interpretive scholarship, however, has been slow to develop and difficult to express in electronic media. Put in other terms, electronic media have developed most rapidly where markets are biggest. Scholarship, while central to the discipline of history, is not all the rage.

The Gutenberg-e project received $1.75 million in two three-year awards.[30] The program is thus somewhat smaller in its budget than other projects of electronic publication in history, and a great deal smaller in the number of works it has produced.[31] Only Gutenberg-e focuses entirely on creating new multimedia material, rather than putting existing material into new format. So the unit cost is much higher and the audience is much smaller. Yet Gutenberg-e retains its distinctiveness in focusing on the work of junior scholars and in investing significantly in original design and linkage to resources intended to take advantage of the character of electronic media. To phrase it differently, it may be argued that much of the weight of conveying interpretive historical research in electronic form has fallen on Gutenberg-e’s recent PhD recipients.

What are the levels of sales and interest in the books? The Gutenberg-e website identifies the institutional subscribers and the published reviews of the e-books.[32] As of this writing, it lists forty-eight institutional subscribers and seven print reviews, all in the American Historical Review (AHR). Only two of the works appear to have had any other reviews, and these were electronic reviews.[33] The AHR has reviewed these books according to its standard policy of evaluation (and, by these guidelines, decided not to review one of the Gutenberg-e books). These two measures of sales and interest provide a chilling result: very few libraries have subscribed to the series, and print journals are not reviewing the books. Electronic reviews, initially touted as a benefit for readers because they would appear quickly, have appeared neither quickly nor in significant number for these books. The numbers, so far, do not look promising.

While the university press is rethinking the business model of the academic monograph, the historical discipline is under pressure to rethink the form of its research publications. History remains a “book discipline” even as the neighboring social sciences and humanities are becoming “article disciplines.” In the age of electronic media and multidisciplinary analysis, historians remain reluctant to give up their longtime love affair with the book. The book exhibit at the AHA annual meeting is a wonderfully imposing collection of print works; the papers presented at the sessions of the same conference may not meet the same standard. Articles, websites, and conference papers have yet to be seen as any more than a supplement to the book. Books remain our priority, just as a regional identification of our specialties remains a priority, although these priorities can no longer remain unquestioned.

Is there a crisis in publication of historical monographs? The cutbacks in library budgets are evident, as are the declining resources of university presses. Yet the crisis of publication in history for junior scholars, by some measures, is not as serious as the indications above suggest. The number of PhD historians able to gain employment in the academy has averaged some 700 per year in the United States. More to the point, candidates have been awarded tenure overwhelmingly, and the proportion of recently tenured historians who have published books is very high. This latter statistic holds not only in universities but also in four-year and two-year colleges.[34]Books are not going away rapidly, just as regional identification is not going away for historians who must address entrenched national constituencies and readerships. Books in history will retain substantial importance for addressing general readers and for the textbooks and accessory books used in schools and colleges. For the advancement of research, however, it is not inherently clear that the book is to remain the leading device. As those in academic life find themselves having to become accustomed to the multiple platforms for the information they collect, so also may they have to learn to present their results in a wider range of forms.

Who is included in the audience for the Gutenberg-e books? The books are written for professional historians. In the most immediate terms, the authors have tailored them for colleagues in their own fields, with an eye to establishing themselves in those fields. Indeed, the process of the Gutenberg-e prize formalized this specialization, selecting as judges only those based within the subfield for each competition. Further down the line, the audience includes members of tenure committees drawn from surrounding historical fields and external tenure reviewers. Of course there will be more general readers for the books. The books are written in a sufficiently accessible style to be read by energetic undergraduates, although it is unlikely that they will be read by many such readers.[35]

The authors may be expected to view their e-books with some ambivalence. On the positive side, their awards and public recognition provided them with an excellent send-off. Further, the authors must be deeply involved in and proud of their works as they have appeared. In contrast to the print experience of submitting a manuscript and waiting to learn of the modifications proposed by reviewers and copy editors, these authors have been actively involved in selecting and organizing all the images and videos, in addition to writing the text and linking the various media.[36] However, the unfamiliarity of the medium for a monograph means that they must have to explain their work repeatedly, and the explanations may need to focus more on the technical than on the interpretive side of their history. The authors must face disappointment at the low level of subscription to the works, although it might be that the actual level of readership of these books will turn out to be as high as for a hardcover book selling 300 copies. The most fundamental question—whether these books are “tenurable”—cannot yet be answered.[37]

The eleven books, as noted above, were initially selected within the categories of colonial Latin America, South Asia, Europe before 1800, and military and foreign relations. But the Gutenberg-e home page lists the works alphabetically by author, thereby inviting the reader to consider them in different groupings. All of the studies reflect the recent predominance of social historical analysis: three of them pair social history with cultural analysis, three focus on the interplay of state power and community response, and three present institutional analyses emphasizing social historical developments. Two further studies rely on biographical approaches: one to link political and cultural history, and the other to trace an evolution in U.S. foreign policy.

Studies of cultural production, having benefited from recent theoretical discourse, provide the most imaginative of the e-books yet to appear. The three books in this category analyze creative activities in the form of plays, acts of self-categorization, and public performances of community values. All three of these works, in centering on cultural connections to social life, convey gradual transitions and renegotiations rather than disjunctures.

In A Field of Honor: Writers, Court Culture and Public Theater in French Literary Life from Racine to the Revolution, Gregory Brown argues that French playwrights of the eighteenth century, aiming to have their plays performed by the Comédie Française, were constrained to work within a tradition of honorable self-presentation. He explores their work in the context of an evolution from the previous century rather than in the context of postrevolutionary France. Brown acknowledges that such playwrights as Beaumarchais and Olympe de Gouges presented themselves as “patriots,” seeking support from a wider audience, but contests the notion that they were in opposition to the Old Regime. Instead he presents them as “established outsiders,” courting acceptance from an order that was itself steadily weakening. Even when they made public outbursts and complaints, they had to return to seeking honorable recognition to gain access to the stage, until the tables turned in 1789.[38] The argument is presented as a detailed and textured narrative of gradual transition.[39] Brown is among the most energetic of these authors in attention to his subject matter, the form of electronic presentation, and the historiography of his field. But when he argues in his conclusion he has presented “a new approach to the role of literature in mediating between state and civil society,” he remains reticent in contrasting his view with the one that he wishes to displace.[40]

Michael Katten’s book, Colonial Lists/Indian Power: Identity Politics in Nineteenth-Century Telugu-Speaking India, treats the past in terms of categories. Katten emphasizes that the Telugu-speaking peoples of South India not only underwent categorization at the hands of British colonial rulers but also categorized themselves in a series of cases that gave definition and meaning to their lives. Through four sets of cases—setting village boundaries, petitions submitted to British rulers from 1778 to the mid-nineteenth century, the oft-retold story of the siege of Bobbili in 1757, and the category of “weaver” in the nineteenth century—he seeks to show the practice of category production and the mutability of regional culture.[41] The case studies are intriguing. Katten holds the reader’s attention with the story of the siege of Bobbili as told numerous times after the event: the French commandant Bussy and the raja of nearby Vizianagaram besiege Bobbili, finally forcing entry to the city only to find all the inhabitants already dead. Changing versions of the story, with tales of the internal turmoil in Bobbili and its enmity with Vizianagaram, range from an 1832 Telugu-language version to a 1950s film.[42] The story conveys neither imperial triumph nor revenge by the colonized but identifies processes for defining one’s group even under difficult circumstances.

Anne Hardgrove’s interdisciplinary work, Community and Public Culture: The Marwaris in Calcutta 1897–1997, relies on both history and anthropology for data and insights. She emphasizes how the Marwari merchants created themselves as a group, especially at the turn of the twentieth century. They were Jain expatriates from Rajasthan who grew to great wealth especially in Calcutta, where they first displaced Bengali merchants and later became industrialists. Hardgrove makes the case that the Marwari defined themselves through “performances.”[43] Exploration of such performances takes the reader through Marwari support for Hindi language (not their ancestral language), rain gambling, and cloth speculation. The anthropological side of Hardgrove’s training gained the upper hand in the topical organization of her book and emphasis on fieldwork in her discourse, yet she succeeds in conveying the contingency and the transformation in identity for this ambitious but conservative business community. In her concluding chapter, largely postcolonial, she traces the steadily greater importance of the cult of sati, in which the Marwari celebrate the heritage of widow immolation without involving themselves in such practice currently.[44]

A second group of works focuses on the interplay of state policy and community response. This theme—long established in historical studies—shows itself to be appropriate for studies of colonization and war. All three of the studies focusing on state-community relations address Iberia. In all three cases, the authors have emphasized the constraints on state power, though in each case one state or another gains dominion. In Like Wheat to a Miller: Community, Convivencia, and the Construction of Morisco Identity in Sixteenth-Century Aragon, Mary Halavais presents a microstudy of early modern Spain, tracing the mentality of convivencia (living together) in a few locations in Aragon. Teruel, where the Reconquista had prevailed in the fourteenth century, came to prominence in 1483 through its refusal to admit officers of the Inquisition to the city for over a year. By the sixteenth century, Teruel had become a city of some 360 families, of which a hundred were Morisco (Muslim converts to Catholicism) and some others were descendants of Jews who had converted to Catholicism in the fifteenth century. In the second part of her study, Halavais analyzes two villages of the nearby Jiloca valley in a detailed social-historical analysis of censuses, property ownership, and baptisms. She argues that the inhabitants of the region chose to live in mutual toleration rather than build walls among competing communities.[45] Although the eventual determination of the state and the Inquisition to divide and expel all but “pure-blooded” Spaniards won the day, Halavais makes the case for communities that opposed and minimized such divisiveness.[46]In this case study, the author poses a small but relevant question, documents it for a restricted topic, and reaches a conclusion that inflects the historiography of the field.

Ignacio Gallup-Diaz’s study of Spanish governance and Tule social order, The Door of the Seas and Key to the Universe: Indian Politics and Imperial Rivalry in the Darién, 1640–1750, presents a complex narrative tracing a century of interactions among numerous parties in northeastern Panama. These include the Tule leres or religious leaders; the caciques or chiefs who developed in interactions with the Spanish; the powerful Carrisoli family of Spanish and Tule ancestry; Scottish, Dutch, and French adventurers; Dominican, Franciscan, and Jesuit priests; and the layers of Spanish authority. The analysis relies on anthropological insights and good analysis of documents to provide a tale showing how Tule society sustained its initiative through the long century under study. Toward the end of this period, the Spanish viceroy relied on Jesuit missionaries to win the allegiance of the caciques, only to learn that real influence in the society lay with the leres, so that the Spanish had little more control over the Tule in 1750 than had been the case in 1640.[47]

While the balance of state and community had changed greatly by the twentieth century, the problematic retained its relevance. Daniel Kowalsky’s revisionist study, The Soviet Union and the Spanish Republic: Diplomatic, Military, and Cultural Relations, 1936–1939, argues that the inherent difficulties of the relationship, rather than individual decisions by Joseph Stalin, brought the failure of the Soviet effort to sustain republican Spain. The study relies on newly available Soviet archives and on Spanish archives opened after the death of Francisco Franco. While he documents richly the rise of Soviet-Spanish ties beginning in 1933, Kowalsky argues that inexperience and inability to cross Russian-Spanish linguistic barriers were significant in weakening the stream of Soviet aid to Spain, so that Stalin’s decisions to cut back on support ratified the inevitable.[48] But the interpretation, though plausible and amply documented, does not engage in detail the literature that it seeks to revise.[49]

A third set of studies works from institutional archives to produce histories that trace the operation of the institution but also give insight into the society in which the institution operates. Within this group, one book traces institutional change over a full century, while two trace institutional changes and interactions over periods of four years. Broadest of these analyses is Jacqueline Holler’s Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531–1601. Her study of nuns and beatas (lay women in religious institutions) examines convents and religious schools as a way to identify the importance of women in early colonial Mexico. With broad and well-chosen references to the literature on women’s history, she provides an institutional history of convents in an attempt to “uncover a little bit of what has been forgotten” of individual women in early colonial Mexico.[50] Since most of the women were in seclusion, Holler must argue for their significance by emphasizing the importance of prayer and contemplation in the colonial world of the sixteenth century. The women of the convents were noble women, mostly criollas; mestizas were generally excluded. Holler argues that in the 1570s, as the decline of Mexican population became critical, the importance of elite women and their families’ dowries grew, and religious institutions shifted toward elite homogeneity and patrimonial foundation.[51]

Sanders Marble’s study “The Infantry cannot do with a gun less”: The Place of the Artillery in the BEF, 1914–1918, is the one strictly military history among the Gutenberg-e books. It centers on the institution of the British artillery and its changing place in planning and fighting during World War I. The study focuses almost entirely on primary sources, for there appears to be little secondary literature on this topic. The author is skillful in summarizing tactical and strategic issues, as these were influenced by the prior experience of the Boer War and the unfolding changes of the Great War: one key question was whether the artillery was to be placed next to the infantry and within earshot of the commanders, or further back.[52] More broadly, British generals chose morale over technology as the key to victory, and the technology-based artillery commanders agreed. The artillery remained in support of other elements of the British Expeditionary Force, rather than take the lead in battle. Marble emphasizes the loyalty and dependability of the artillery, and ultimate British victory, in a study that highlights the endless problems of changing conditions of war and defends the artillery corps against their detractors.

Kenneth Estes conducted a study in social history of military life, in A European Anabasis: Western European Volunteers in the German Army and SS, 1940–1945. This study responds to a gap in the literature rather than to existing debate, but it documents yet another underside to the war. As many as 100,000 volunteers from northern and western Europe joined the German forces, although they were accepted in large numbers only from 1942, once German hopes for a quick victory had evaporated. The volunteers were especially Spanish and Dutch, but also Belgian, French, Danish, and Norwegian.[53] Most served in the Waffen-SS rather than in the German Army. Estes concludes that hunger was as important as Nazi ideology in recruiting and, in contrast to previous analysis, argues that these forces were not highly effective in the field.[54]

Biographical studies retain their wide interest among general readers of history, but academic biographies tend now to be linked eclectically to other analytical issues. In The Genesis of Napoleonic Propaganda, 1796–1799, Wayne Hanley analyzes Napoleon’s military career through his propaganda as documented in military, civilian, and personal records. Especially from Napoleon’s Italian campaign but also from his campaign in Egypt, Hanley traces Napoleon’s brilliance in morale-building and self-promotion through an analysis of reports from the front, newspapers, images, medals, and more subtle forms of propaganda. While the conceptual and historiographical structure of this book is minimal, Hanley argues the details of his presentation in lively fashion, as with the confiscation of Italian art in 1796–1797 and the commissioning of such heroic portraits as that by Antoine-Jean Gros of Napoleon on the bridge at Arcole in Italy. After all this buildup, Hanley’s narrative of Napoleon’s awkwardness and near failure in the coup d’état of 18–19 Brumaire (December 1799) shows that the general remained a mere mortal.[55]

Christopher O’Sullivan’s political biography Sumner Welles, Postwar Planning, and the Quest for a New World Order, 1937–1943, highlights the undersecretary of state’s vision of the postwar order. This is a straightforward narrative of a policy maker made feasible by the opening of Welles’s papers in 1996. It is more a study of an individual than of an institution, yet it clarifies the structures of U.S. foreign policy. Welles gained experience in Latin America during the 1920s and from it gained a vision of American global power in a system of free markets and republican institutions. Welles, a longtime associate of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, developed a parallel proposal for a postwar world while undersecretary; such a globalization of the inter-American economic system would have meant a rapid termination of European colonial regimes. Welles’s own career was cut short by the effectiveness of political enemies in exploiting an episode of drunkenness, and he was sidelined from 1943. The United States withdrew from Welles’s anticolonial dreams in the postwar period.[56]

The Gutenberg-e books are indeed books, as the authors emphasize in various asides. Nevertheless, they were constructed to be read online, and their review requires addressing that experience. All the books share a common format, with only minor differences. The main Gutenberg-e website provides access to the home page for each of the e-books.[57] Each book’s home page centers on the table of contents, with links to the chapters and appendixes, and includes three other sets of links: a menu of functions across the top of the screen, resource icons at the upper left, and title-page icons at the lower right.[58] On entering any one of the chapters, the reader finds a menu in the left margin, making for ready navigation of the chapters—permitting the equivalent of flipping through a paper book, since the contents menu is always present.[59] Pages have no numbers in these electronic texts, so paragraphs are numbered.[60] The citation format is endnotes: clicking on a note number brings up the note at the end of the chapter; one can return to the text rapidly with the Back command.[61] The text includes thumbnail images which, when selected, provide large and clear images, including images of archival documents. Videos appear in several books on twentieth-century topics, though these are uneven quality.[62]

From the menu at the top of the screen, the most useful function is the search: that is, with an e-book the reader loses an index but gains a search function. The Gutenberg-e search engine does a Google-like search (ordering links based on an assessment of relevance rather than in mechanical order), showing occurrences of the search term throughout the book.[63] The same menu also provides Links, meaning links to websites with additional information on the topic.[64] The chapter menu and the electronic links to notes, images, and bibliography provide for navigability that is slightly different in character but largely equal in quality to that with a paper text. Videos, where they appear, are a bonus. The big bonus, however, is the searchability of the text, which makes it possible to trace words and phrases with ease within any file (or chapter) and with not much additional difficulty from chapter to chapter. In sum, while peering at a computer screen may be less pleasant than curling up with a book, the design of Gutenberg-e books brings certain rewards.

Many readers, out of habit, will prefer to print out the files. Downloading copies from the website is easily done: from the Print menu on each e-book’s home page, the user may download and print PDF files. This brings the advantage of hard copy, though not all elements of the book may be printed in this way.[65] Quite a different problem arises from the filing of PDF files on one’s own computer: there is no dependable relationship between the chapter numbers and the file names assigned by the press; file names were not designed carefully enough to order the files correctly on a computer directory.[66]

The authors, depending on their resources, inclination, and skills, achieved varying levels of use of the electronic medium. Those who worked on time periods before the eighteenth century—Gallup-Diaz, Halavais, and Holler—were not able to include very many images or web links. They were, however, able to present original documents and translations. Halavais struck me as minimal in her use of the resources, but one reviewer found the extra documents exciting.[67] Estes and Kowalsky used numerous videos to document their wartime studies, and Katten used clips from twentieth-century films in Telugu to convey the myths and identities developed from the eighteenth-century events they portrayed. Hanley, O’Sullivan, Marble, Kowalsky, Brown, and Estes reproduced scores of text documents and roughly equal numbers of images. Hardgrove included 120 photos, mostly her own, to document her argument that public performance was central to constructing Marwari identity. For Hardgrove and Katten, the originality of their arguments arguably comes across better in the electronic media than in the text. Brown provided a rich collection of texts, portraits, and other images to illustrate his portrayal of the texture of life near the Comédie Française. Hanley’s topic of propaganda seemed ideally suited to the electronic medium, but the argument still did not become exciting. Estes was inventive in finding ways to include supplementary material, as with interviews and sidebar essays. He also wisely included a caution about the quality of Internet materials on World War II.[68] Kowalsky included numerous Spanish and Soviet film clips, but I found them of low technical quality; the images of Spain nevertheless helped establish that the venue was more than the battlefront and the halls of diplomacy.[69]

The additional documents, linked to the text, add strength and nuance to the arguments advanced in these books. Yet I could imagine that a skeptical reader would peruse the texts alone and conclude that these works are entirely conventional. Only with more extended experience with e-books will authors and readers be able to develop the habits and expectations that will make navigating these works a dependably satisfactory experience. The various available links need to be relatively standard, yet each e-book needs to reveal the individuality of the materials it presents.

The range of these studies provides a reminder of how different are the problems and the documents in the various fields of history, and why it is that each field tends to move ahead according to its own dynamic, based on a discourse shared primarily by specialists with common training and language. Yet all are part of the historical literature and can readily be compared. From this sample, South Asian historiography seems the most lively and argumentative, experimenting with source materials in defense of new arguments, though I felt that the arguments of Hardgrove and Katten overemphasized cross-sectional analysis at the expense of longitudinal interpretation. Brown’s analysis of French playwrights also engages in debate but at a measured and genteel pace. The two colonial Latin Americanists have shown the depth of materials still remaining to be explored in the archives. Three European historians of the early modern period appear to be seeking new perspectives to apply to well-known sources; the Europeanist emphasis on historiography is evident in their notes. The fascination of the two twentieth-century world wars is evident, as both their fighting and the surrounding diplomacy appear central to scholars and general readers, yet the discussion of historiography was weakest for these studies.

In the organization of their works, Gallup-Diaz, Estes, and O’Sullivan gave primarily chronological presentations; Hardgrove organized her presentation in topical rather than chronological terms, and the rest of the authors selected organizations that mixed the topical and chronological. In length of their text, these books are longer than most monographs. The eleven books averaged 112,000 words (or 585 paragraphs, since paragraphs rather than pages are enumerated in these books) for their principal text. Notes, introductory material, appendixes, and bibliography are in addition. These correspond on average to books of 350 to 400 pages; the inclusion of nontext media makes them longer yet. The two longest were by Brown and Kowalsky, each with over 175,000 words of text plus scores of documents. The most restrained author was Halavais, who provided a dense and well-structured analysis in less than 60,000 words (286 paragraphs).

One may ask whether the electronic form enhanced the message of the books. In one sense, authors used the electronic option to include sources and other materials they might otherwise have been unable to include. The two issues are how well they used the opportunity to include additional materials, and how well the additional materials sustained or advanced their argument.

None of the Gutenberg-e authors has put substantial effort into articulating an argument for audiences beyond specialists in his or her own field. None of the volumes is global in approach, or even comparative, despite all the attention given to such approaches in recent discussion of new work in history.[70] (Nor were they selected with such breadth in mind.) Kowalsky’s analysis is most clearly interactive, in that he drew on both Spanish and Soviet archives to trace Hispano-Soviet relations. The authors provide analyses that could be fit into or linked to broader patterns in the historical situations they address but leave it to other authors to make those links.[71] Historical monographs generally work with a single set of documents. This pattern stands out all the more strongly in military studies, where two sides are clearly in evidence, but the historian addresses one at a time. The pattern is shared equally if less obviously by other fields.

These are fine studies, within their limits. The experience of reading them at once has left this reviewer struck as much by the continuing respect for the old boundaries of the historical monograph as by the energy and imagination of young historians in exploring the past within those boundaries. Neither crisis nor breakthrough in historical studies is apparent in these studies. This collection of first books confirms that recently minted historians continue to produce carefully researched and skillfully written monographs on well-selected topics, addressing a range of issues in social, political, and cultural history. The results show incremental though significant advance in historical knowledge as new data and new concepts become available. The question is whether work at this level is sufficient for the needs of the discipline of history.

The Gutenberg-e project implicitly affirmed the strength of current programs of doctoral education, focusing its energy on creating a more imaginative outlet for outstanding dissertation research. In contrast, the report of the AHA’s Committee on Graduate Education, The Education of Historians for the Twenty-First Century, challenged the effectiveness of doctoral programs in history. These two major reforms of the historical profession, if complementary in their effort to strengthen young historians, thus have their contradictions. The eleven e-books are solid and workmanlike, confirming the confidence of Gutenberg-e in the dissertations that preceded them. The Education of Historians, while it does not undertake an assessment of dissertations, takes a critical view of the programs that sustain dissertations. It argues that program requirements “seem to be the result of accretion, developed in ad hoc fashion over the years” and proposes an extensive set of program changes.[72] Further, the report argues that doctoral programs need to go beyond producing research monographs, preparing in addition to guarantee the “generational succession” of the discipline.[73]

Robert Darnton, in his early paean to the Gutenberg-e project, emphasized that these authors would be the leaders of the next generation of historians.[74] In so doing, he directly addressed “generational succession.” His assessment of the potential of Gutenberg-e and its authors raises a triad of underlying questions: How do historians train the next generation of scholars? How do historians select the best of the new generation? And how does the training of historians meet the full range of needs for generational succession in the discipline of history? Responses to each of these questions require consideration of the roles and activities of both junior and senior scholars.

As The Education of Historians makes clear, research is currently the key to employment and tenure, and research is defined as a field-specific monograph—such as those of the Gutenberg-e project.[75] It appears, therefore, that first books are intended to strengthen existing fields in history, rather than to strengthen links among fields or to strengthen links of history to other disciplines. This is a conservative approach, minimizing the response to current pressures of globalization and interdisciplinarity. These eleven books, while varying greatly in topic and methodology, share a relatively consistent underlying design. In each case, a relatively coherent topic or historical situation has been identified, with substantial available documentation. The analyst then explores the dynamics of that situation, supplementing the analysis with general background. These books do add significant information and interpretation on elements of the past, and they are skillfully researched and written. Some authors aim at filling holes in existing knowledge within known frames; a few suggest changes in the frames of knowledge. The books stop short, however, of exploring the implications of the study for adjoining situations or larger historical issues. They do not do much to show new directions in the study of history, precisely because it seems beyond their purview to consider connections among fields of history or connections of history with other disciplines. Such research tasks, it appears, are to be learned informally and after one’s advance to tenure.

Overall, while the Gutenberg-e books are exemplary first books, they are most of all first books, tied closely to the dissertations from which they emerged. The electronic form of presentation strengthens them in including additional source material and improved navigation of the works. The result is to modify but not transform either the form of the book or the substance of its interpretation. These works and the scholars producing them are unquestionably prepared to reproduce the discipline of history for the next generation. But there is little evidence that they are transforming the discipline from within or that they are prepared to lead in facing transformative pressures from without. Reading these books highlights the fact that now, as before, the function of the first book in history—along with the formal PhD training undergirding it—is more to gain entry to the profession than to move the profession ahead. One is therefore prompted to ask: Might the degree of innovation in electronic books have been greater if the publications had included works by more senior scholars?[76]

The electronic form of Gutenberg-e cannot in itself satisfy the need for change in the structure of graduate study, and far less can it resolve the vague and problematic links between graduate study and the overall needs of the historical profession. Certainly the project is to be commended for drawing attention to new PhDs and their work. In so doing, it emphasizes the issues of renewal and advance of the discipline. Part of what the Gutenberg-e project has shown, through these books, is that new scholars are not really entrusted with much breadth. The very act of rewarding and privileging these awardees makes clear how limited is the scope offered to them. Theirs is to be a long apprenticeship, in which for at least a decade of doctoral and pretenure work—roughly until the age of forty—they focus on microstudies and avert their eyes from novelties in other geographic areas or adjoining disciplines of social science and humanities.

The discipline of history is caught, as usual, between the humanities and the social sciences, and between audiences of professionals and general readers. To that old dilemma is added the newer dilemma of the local and the global, between history written within boundaries of region and topic and historical studies tracing interactions across boundaries of space, topics, and disciplines. How will historians handle the interdisciplinary and transregional developments in inquiry? In research and graduate study, the discipline of history is structured inflexibly, making rapid change almost impossible, except perhaps through attrition. The profession needs greater breadth in its monographic research to reproduce itself and thrive. In research, it needs interactive and global research as well as localized studies, and it needs knowledge of available methods, theories, and technologies. The discipline would benefit from a broad and critical discussion of its research agenda. But beyond research—both specialized and interactive—the discipline of history has major responsibilities in teaching, synthesizing research results, preparing textbooks, writing for general readers, reviewing of the works of others, organizing the profession, seeking funding for research and support of teaching, and facilitating academic diplomacy with other disciplines and with the universities, foundations, and government that set the framework for our work. Should there not be some formal training for such responsibilities? To what degree should doctoral study include preparation for these tasks? [77]

I mean to be critical but not alarmist in raising these questions. Arguably, history has made it through past changes without changing its structure, so perhaps it can reasonably continue along its proven path. Within the last half century, the discipline has successfully incorporated such new and disruptive approaches as social history, economic history, area studies, literary theory, environmental history, and studies of race, gender, and class. All of these have been incorporated into historical studies within the model of focusing junior scholars on producing specialized, book-length monographs, and encouraging some senior scholars (selected according to an informal process) to provide the necessary linkages and direct the appropriate transformations. But the world is changing at a fast pace as well as at a gradual pace. Transformations looming in the publishing business provide a warning that academic life might be faced with more fundamental changes, as newspapers, television, books, computer hardware, and even search engines come under monopolistic control. Historians should consider taking a more proactive approach to changes in the discipline.

Robert Darnton argued that with Gutenberg-e, the AHA had located “an Archimedean point, one where the right amount of leverage can pry things apart so that problems come unstuck and we can all breathe easier.”[78] The project addresses the fundamentally important issues of identifying and publishing leading works by junior scholars in history and highlighting the young scholars thought to be suggesting the direction of the profession. For academic publishers, the project emphasizes the evolving relationship of electronic publication and the presentation of new historical scholarship. It is intended to establish a role for university presses in the emerging electronic age, showing presses how to update their previously successful association with scholarship of historians at the junior level.

We now have indications of the changes wrought by Gutenberg-e. The changes do not measure up to the initial dreams, but they are measurable.[79] The project led the AHR to review several electronic books and to commission a review essay of unusual breadth. The 2004 Gutenberg-e competition, building on the broad scope of the 2003 competition on women and gender in history, has accepted entries in all fields and therefore required its judges to be generalists as well as specialists. Certain of the authors, in proceeding slowly to publication, may have made the more thorough revisions necessary to exploit the interpretive possibilities of the e-book.[80] Each of these small changes suggests the effort that may be necessary to achieve significant change but also hints at the depth of transformation that may await us. The AHA, fortunately, has plans to keep the project going somehow.

The nature of electronic publication is clearer in some areas than in others. For JSTOR there is no turning back: the electronic versions of scholarly journals in history and related disciplines are established as a professional requirement. Electronic publication through the History Cooperative has become an essential characteristic of the AHR. For Gutenberg-e, however, it is not obvious that the project will continue. Sales have been modest at best, and the funding is due to run out within a year. This project highlights a selected group of talented young historians. At the same time, it demonstrates the limits on their influence and the limits on investment in the breadth of their preparation. Their training has emphasized that they find ways to express their originality and imagination through detailed work within predetermined boundaries.

If there is a crisis in history, the work assigned to junior scholars appears to be that of maintaining the system on the home front, rather than applying innovative strategies on our interpretive and disciplinary frontiers. The power to innovate—to address the tasks of cross-regional analysis and interdisciplinary explorations, to forge links with general readers, and to promote interdepartmental diplomacy—remains in the hands of senior scholars. Ironically, the innovators among senior scholars must invent their own ideas on how to accomplish these tasks, except to the degree that writing field-specific dissertations had prepared them for these larger issues. On the face of it, it is an inefficient system: the benefits of a long apprenticeship are offset by the narrowing of historians’ vision until the blinders are removed from those who gain tenure.

The historical profession needs to apply its powers of reflection to its own organization and not just to interpretation of the past. We need discussion about the future of the monograph, our systems of doctoral training, the identification of excellence in historical scholarship, and preparation for the various types of leadership of the profession. Gutenberg-e is no panacea, but it is a well-conceived program—the best-funded program yet for revitalizing history—that addresses directly our longstanding but problematic belief in the centrality of specialized monographs as the core of professional history. Along with the report of the Committee on Graduate Education, the Gutenberg-e project and the individual books of its series deserve careful scrutiny and ample debate by historians at all levels.

The author expresses appreciation to Michael Grossberg, Maria Bucur, and five reviewers for comments on earlier versions of this essay; and to Kate Wittenberg, Robert Townsend, Heidi Gengenbach, and Peter Dimock for providing information essential to the essay.

Patrick Manning is a professor of History and African-American Studies at Northeastern University. His recent books are Navigating World History: Historians Create a Global Field (2003) and Migration in World History (2004). He is writing a survey of the Africa diaspora, and he continues to analyze the demographic impact of slave trade, following the 1990 publication of Slavery and African Life: Occidental, Oriental, and African Slave Trades.


1 The Gutenberg-e project ( is not to be confused with the earlier Project Gutenberg which, beginning in 1971, has posted some ten thousand electronic texts of books, mostly “older literary works that are in the public domain in the United States” (

2 Mary Halavais, Like Wheat to the Miller: Community, Convivencia, and the Construction of Morisco Identity in Sixteenth-Century Aragon (New York, 2002).

3 Jacqueline Holler, Escogidas Plantas: Nuns and Beatas in Mexico City, 1531–1601 (New York, 2002).

4 Ignacio Gallup-Diaz, The Door of the Seas and Key to the Universe: Indian Politics and Imperial Rivalry in the Darién, 1640–1750 (New York, 2002).

5 Gregory S. Brown, A Field of Honor: Writers, Court Culture and Public Theater in French Literary Life from Racine to the Revolution (New York, 2002).

6 Wayne Hanley, The Genesis of Napoleonic Propaganda, 1796–1799 (New York, 2002).

7 Michael Katten, Colonial Lists/Indian Power: Identity Politics in Nineteenth-Century Telugu-Speaking India (New York, 2002).

8 Sanders Marble, “The Infantry cannot do with a gun less”: The Place of the Artillery in the BEF, 1914–1918 (New York, 2003).

9 Daniel Kowalsky, The Soviet Union and the Spanish Republic: Diplomatic, Military, and Cultural Relations, 1936–1939 (New York, 2004).

10 Christopher D. O’Sullivan, Sumner Welles, Postwar Planning, and the Quest for a New World Order, 1937–1943 (New York, 2003).

11 Kenneth W. Estes, A European Anabasis: Western European Volunteers in the German Army and SS, 1940–1945 (New York, 2003).

12 Anne Hardgrove, Community and Public Culture: The Marwaris in Calcutta 1897–1997 (New York, 2002).

13 Thomas Bender et al., The Education of Historians for the Twenty-first Century (Champaign, Ill., 2004).

14 Robert Darnton, “Three Problems in Search of a Solution,” Perspectives 37, no. 2 (February 1999): 2, 18–19; Darnton, “A Program for Reviving the Monograph,” Perspectives 37, no. 3 (March 1999): 2, 25–26; Darnton, “The New Age of the Book,” New York Review of Books, March 18, 1999. For a follow-up in later years, see James M. McPherson, “A Crisis in Scholarly Publishing,” Perspectives 41, no. 1 (October 2003).

15 Darnton, “What is the Gutenberg-e Program?” Perspectives 38 (September 2000): 29.

16 Announcements of the competition winners are posted on the AHA website, The list of awards provides an opportunity to note the institutions and programs that produced award winners: in fact, the winners have come from an impressively wide range of doctoral programs. Four winning institutions were outside the United States (King’s College London, London School of Economics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, and Sydney University) and twenty-six were from programs in the United States—seventeen from east of the Mississippi and nine from west of the river. Of the U.S. programs, one was from New England, four from the Mid-Atlantic, eight from the Southeast (half of these from the Chesapeake), seven from the Midwest, three from the Southwest, and three from the Pacific coast. Only one institution, University of Minnesota, won as many as three awards; Johns Hopkins University and Emory University each won two. The awards, of course, are to the individual scholars, but their institutions must surely share in their glory. These data have been gathered from print issues of Perspectives and from the AHA website.

17 Applications for Africa, colonial Latin America, and South Asia (1999) totaled twenty-five; applications for Europe before 1800 (2000) totaled sixteen; applications for military and foreign relations (2001) totaled forty; applications for North America before 1900 (2002) totaled fifteen; and applications for women and gender (2003) totaled forty-two. The small number of applications for the United States before 1900 is attributed to the ease of publication in print form for that area; perhaps the same reasoning applies to Europe before 1800. Data are provided by the AHA Research Division.

18 Robert Darnton with Stanley Katz and Chris Tomlins selected the first three panels. The judges for 1999 were Sara S. Berry, Stuart Schwartz, and Thomas Metcalf; judges for 2000 were Patrick Geary, Margaret Jacob, and Raymond Starr; and judges for 2001 were Dennis Showalter, Peter Duus, Carole Fink, and Stephen Schuker. Judges for the remaining competitions were selected by Arnita Jones, Robert Townsend, and Roy Rosenzweig. The judges for 2002 were Saul Cornell, Paula Fass, James Merrill, Paula Petrik, Gary Kornblith, and Jane Kamensky; judges for 2003 were Judith Bennett, William Chafe, Thomas Dublin, Alice Kessler-Harris, Margaret Strobel, Janelle Warren-Findley, and Lisa Heinemann. Heinemann was brought in as a supplemental judge to address the unexpectedly large number of submissions on European topics. Data provided by the AHA Research Division.

19 Only three awards were made for U.S. history before 1900 in 2002, but nine awards were made in history of women and gender in 2003. In 2002, the judges gave substantial emphasis to the multimedia strength of the submissions as well as the historiographical excellence. In 2003, the judges’ report emphasized that the number of awards (nine) was large in response to the high quality of the submissions, but this decision was made easier by the availability of unspent funds from the 2002 competition.

20 Workshops were added as an improvisation after the project had begun to strengthen preparation of the books. Each workshop session consumes two days: the first for presentations by authors, and the second for consultation of authors with the project editor, web designer, and permissions coordinator. Wittenberg, who is Project Director of Electronic Publishing Initiatives at Columbia (EPIC), has also invited officials of the Mellon Foundation, representatives of the American Council of Learned Societies History E-Book Project, members of prize selection committees, American Historical Review editor Michael Grossberg, and Clifford Lynch of the Coalition for Networked Information. See Pillarisetti Sudhir, “Mellon Foundation Renews Support for Gutenberg-e Prizes,” Perspectives 39, no. 6 (September 2001): 10; and Kate Wittenberg, “Digital Technology and Historical Scholarship: A Publishing Experiment,” Perspectives 40, no. 5 (May 2002): 41–43.

21 The press and the AHA each make regular reports to the Mellon Foundation, including details on the workshops. The authors presumably spread word more informally.

22 For instance, in 1995 the Columbia press initiated Columbia International Affairs Online (CIAO), also under the direction of Kate Wittenberg.

23 But since eight of the eleven earned their PhDs in years before they won the Gutenberg-e prize, the average time between PhD and book publication was four and a half years. Those in military and foreign-relations history have published their books rapidly after their awards; perhaps they were unable to find publishers aside from Gutenberg-e. Seven more books from the initial three competitions remain in preparation, along with twelve books in preparation from the competitions of 2002 and 2003.

24 In a recent development, individuals may purchase titles for $49.50 online.

25 The Mellon Foundation awarded JSTOR $2.2 million in 1994–1995, plus $1.5 million for start-up costs of its transformation into a nonprofit corporation.

26 The ACLS shares its initiative with eight learned societies and several university presses, see The distributor is the Scholarly Publishing Office, University of Michigan Library, a spinoff of the ancestral University Microfilms.

27 The ACLS project received a three-million-dollar, five-year grant from the Mellon Foundation in June 1999, with additional funding from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation. It thus began slightly after the Gutenberg-e project. Even the ACLS frontlist e-books are primarily scanned versions of print texts. An exception is Joshua Brown, Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, and the Crisis of Gilded-Age America (Ann Arbor, Mich., 2004).

28 To access the History Cooperative, see Other online collections of journals are available through Project Muse (, founded in 1995 by Johns Hopkins University Press and the Expanded Academic Index of Gale Group.

29 On the participation of historians in discussion lists, see the H-Net lists at; in archives, see Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War at; in pedagogy, see History Matters at; and for journal postings, see the History Cooperative at

30 The Mellon Foundation awarded Gutenberg-e $720,000 for three years in 1998, and renewed for an additional $980,000 for three more years in 2001.

31 The full thirty books are expected to be published within the limits of the grant, with production costs averaging slightly under $60,000 per book.

32 The ability to make reviews available in this form is a new option for publishers, and one that should be encouraged.

33 Print reviews have appeared in AHR for works by Brown, Gallup-Diaz, Hanley, Halavais, Hardgrove, Holler, and Katten. Electronic reviews have appeared for Hardgrove on H-Asia, February 10, 2003, and for Brown on H-France in April 2003. See Other electronic reviews may have appeared: indexing is not yet dependable.

34 Bender et al., The Education of Historians, 27; Robert Townsend, “History and the Future of Scholarly Publishing,” Perspectives 41, no. 7 (October 2003).

35 A cynical counterargument is that portions of these electronic texts could be easily appropriated by those who create term papers for sale.

36 For all the intensity of the internal review of these works, they have not so far been sent to external reviewers before publication; the preceding dissertations were, of course, reviewed for the prize.

37 Consultation of the AHA Directory of History Departments, Historical Organizations, and Historians for 2004–2005 identifies five of the eleven authors as employed in tenure-track positions and one in a public history position; this is presumably a minimum estimate of those so employed.

38 Brown, Field of Honor, chap. 5.

39 Such emphasis on gradualism has been appearing in other fields of European studies, including economic history. See Jan De Vries, “The Industrial Revolution and the Industrious Revolution,” Journal of Economic History 54, no. 2 (June 1994): 249–70.

40 “This new history would present writers as produced by rather than autonomous from state institutions and the market.” Brown, Field of Honor, conclusion, par. 10.

41 Some of the explication falls short of matching the clarity of the examples: “In all these cases there existed moments of historical solidarities to which groups might refer to strengthen the calls they made for their identity categories.” Katten, Colonial Lists/Indian Power, chap. 1, par. 41.

42 Katten, Colonial Lists/Indian Power, chap. 4. The film “Bobbili Yuddham” is available from the book’s video link.

43 Hardgrove defines her “performances” concisely with reference to the work of anthropologist Victor Turner and notes that “Unlike invention or imagination, therefore, this theory of performance makes no claims about what may actually be going on inside peoples’ heads.” Hardgrove, Community and Public Culture, chap. 1, pars. 5–10, 18.

44 Hardgrove, Community and Public Culture, chap. 6.

45 In other communities, walls had been built to create juderias and morerias, sequestering Jews and Moriscos respectively.

46 Halavais concludes with a critique of Henri Lapeyre’s review of three censuses of Aragon (1495, 1575, 1609), contesting his argument that all Moriscos were removed. Halavais, Like Wheat to the Miller, chap. 10, pars. 6–15.

47 Gallup-Diaz, The Door of the Seas, chap. 9, pars. 49–60.

48 Kowalsky, The Soviet Union and the Spanish Republic, conclusion, pars. 8–29.

49 Kowalsky does offer some specific critiques of Hugh Thomas’s The Spanish Civil War (New York, 1986), but that does not fully sustain his argument for a “consistent agreement, at least among historians in the West, [on] the unambiguously negative assessment of the role of Stalin and the Soviet Union.” Kowalsky, The Soviet Union and the Spanish Republic, introduction, par. 1.

50 Holler, Escogidas Plantas, chap. 1, par. 35.

51 Holler, Escogidas Plantas, chap. 7, par. 93.

52 Marble, “The Infantry cannot do with a gun less,” chap. 1.

53 Estes, European Anabasis, chap. 6, par. 40.

54 “The majority cast their lot with the German side because of political status in National-Socialist circles, hunger, adventure, escape from home life, and idealism, in decreasing order of frequency.” Estes, European Anabasis, chap. 6, par. 14.

55 Hanley, Genesis of Napoleonic Propaganda, chap. 7, pars. 6–15.

56 O’Sullivan, Sumner Welles.

57 To gain access to the books, one must utilize either a university subscription or an individual subscription to Gutenberg-e, then go to the Gutenberg-e site ( and log in by selecting a user name and password.

58 The menu at the top of the screen gives access to Home (for the book), an internal search engine, web resources, print versions of chapters, resources (meaning bibliography), and a Help function. Icons at the upper left of the screen provide links to images, archives, and in some cases to video, web resources, and glossary. At lower right are links to Gutenberg-e (the home page for the book series and links to the other books), and to Columbia University Press (the copyright page for the book, including date of publication and eISBN).

59 The type font and spacing of the text are generally satisfactory: the type font is Verdana fourteen-point, a large, readable, and attractive font. Pages are ragged right.

60 In the right margins, numbers are given for paragraph 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, etc., within each chapter or section. Tables and block quotes are treated as paragraphs, see Estes, European Anabasis, chap. 6, pars. 20–25.

61 Numbers indicating notes are subscripts rather than superscripts.

62 Captions are given in the enlarged versions of images. Citations for these resources embedded in the text are found not in the text itself but are available through the icons at the upper left of the screen: icons list captions and citations for images, documents, videos, and audio. The authors, with the assistance of the press’s permissions staff person, had responsibility for obtaining permission to reproduce texts, images, and videos. Even for the numerous videos in the books by Estes, Katten, and Kowalsky, the press found that the cost of purchasing permissions was not onerous.

63 The Gutenberg-e search takes the user to each file containing the search term, but not to the specific location of the term. What I found effective was to use the Gutenberg-e search to identify files (usually chapters) with my search term, and then use my local search (Ctrl-F on my computer) to find successive mentions of a term within a file.

64 In some cases Gutenberg-e has put mirror images of these sites on its own site, making it more likely that they will remain available over the long term.

65 The print version of the typical e-book contains some ten to thirty PDF files, selected from a much larger number of HTML files in the online original. The PDF files, while compact and convenient, generally do not include acknowledgments, appendixes, images, or the citations for nontext content. Alternative approaches to downloading the books are to print the HTML files directly, to save the HTML files and read them separately online, or to copy either PDF or HTML files into Word or WordPerfect files.

66 In the Brown book on French theater, for instance, the PDF preface is file 00 and the introduction is file 01, so that chapter 1 becomes file 02. Further, since the author has placed an “intermission” between chapters 3 and 4, chapter 3 is file 04 and chapter 5 is file 07, since the intermission is file 05. In other cases, certain files are labeled quite out of order. Surely a system of file names could be developed, both for HTML and PDF files, that would provide numbers coincident with the chapter numbers, but so that automatic filing would keep all the chapters and elements in order.

67 Mary Elizabeth Perry, review of Like Wheat to the Miller, by Mary Halavais, AHR 108, no. 4 (October 2003): 219.

68 Estes, European Anabasis, Links.

69 Annotating images is one matter; annotating video clips is another, and the latter requires additional skill.

70 Although all of the works included some sort of comparative comments, in saying that none was comparative I mean that none included a sustained comparison of two bodies of data. From this perspective, Kowalsky’s study is exemplary in his effort to link data and interpretations from Soviet and Spanish archives.

71 Gallup-Diaz, for instance, introduces his book as an exercise in Atlantic world history and cites Neil Whitehead to observe that the Tule maintained their position as “frontier” and “Indian country,” but does not otherwise pursue the larger connections. Gallup-Diaz, Door of the Seas, introduction, par. 22.

72 Bender et al., Education of Historians, 49, 85–106.

73 Bender et al., Education of Historians, 10, 25.

74 Darnton, “What is the Gutenberg-e Program?”

75 The Education of Historians is a remarkably comprehensive review of doctoral training in history, judicious in its language but fundamentally critical in its call for a full overhaul of graduate study in history. None of its proposals for reform is likely to be successfully implemented, however, without a widespread change in assumptions by the historical professoriate about the purpose of graduate education and the relations between junior and senior historians. Bender et al., Education of Historians.

76 This question will be answered in part by the frontlist books of the ACLS e-book initiative, which includes a work by Darnton.

77 Perhaps historians should develop a more explicit analysis of their professional life cycle, identifying various stages and the activities, responsibilities, and types of recognition that go with each.

78 Darnton, “A Program for Reviving the Monograph,” 26.

79 “By the end of three years, [the AHA] should have learned a great deal from the experience, the lessons should begin to spread through the publishing industry, the AHA Prize Monograph Series should have established itself in the holdings of research libraries, the authors should be making their way in the world of learning, and the learned world should have acknowledged the legitimacy of a new kind of book.” Darnton, “A Program for Reviving the Monograph,” 26.

80 One awaits with interest the publication of the books with the longest gestation time, those on African history by Heidi Gengenbach and Helena Pohlandt-McCormick.