The Thoughts of SES Blog

Update to Arrogant Authors

Posted in Uncategorized by ses31 on January 29, 2010

This is the newest reply from the author:
Dear Ms. Spann,

Yes, let’s try to dig into this a little deeper. I’ll help you (and your mother) if I can.

Would you tell me what stories or documentation you were seeking but couldn’t find, what references didn’t match up, all those things you said were missing or misidentified?

I am copying your professor at your suggestion. I’ll answer any questions or concerns he has as well.

There is a difference between saying you couldn’t find some of my documentation and saying that it doesn’t exist, or that more than half were misidentified. If the documents you are seeking are hard to find, that’s not a surprise if you’re looking for documents that are located in a single archive that you haven’t visited.

For example, if I found a document in the papers of Tom Waring, you’d have to visit the South Carolina Historical Society to find it (unless it was, for example, an article in the public domain that might be available on microfilm through Interlibrary Loan); similarly, if you’re looking for something I found in the papers of Jack Kilpatrick or Turner Catledge, you’d have to visit their collections at the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia, or the archives at Mississippi State University. (In most cases, I have copies of every document we cite and, to a limited extent because of the time involved, would be willing to help you by finding the documents or telling you where they are beyond the faily detailed explanation of provenance in the last 100 pages of the book.

This scattering of documentation about civil rights, of course, is why scholars spend so many years pulling together the substance of their important work.

I guarantee you that every source we cite exists, and is fully and properly accounted for. Your note comes as a surprise because that book has been examined every which way from Sunday by civil rights historians, journalism historians, and other scholars whose life work is precisely on the subjects we wrote about in The Race Beat, and no one so far has challenged a single finding, citation or attribution.

As I said in my earlier email, the first edition had a few index items that took readers to the wrong pages, but we quickly corrected them. There were also four or five minor fixes we made in the text — we spelled the former governor of Florida as Leroy Collins when it should have been LeRoy Collins, with an upper case R; we suggested there was a median strip in the middle of the Edmund Pettus Bridge, which there was not; and I had a reference to one journalist’s grandfather, when it should have been his great-great-grandfather (or maybe there were even more greats).

But that was it. I’m not saying with all absolute certainty that someone wouldn’t find a random misidentification here and there, but I’m not aware of any and I feel confident such a problem does not exist to the extent you suggest.

So, if you’ll please send me a list of some of the problems you found, perhaps I can figure out what you’re referring to. I’ll be glad to try to help.


Hank Klibanoff
co-author, The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation

Hank Klibanoff
Phone: 404-376-2641

Well, I can sure try. And, yes, he actually did contact that professor!


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