Sedimentary Geology and the Civil War

I'm sure Hippensteel's new book (Sand, Science, and the Civil War) is quite interesting (especially if you're a Civil War buff), but the extreme narrow focus of his argument made me laugh. From a review:

It "describes the influence of sedimentary rocks and sediments on the tactics employed by both armies during the Civil War and the effects of these materials on the weapons, fortifications, and landscapes from the conflict". Hippensteel believes that "sedimentary geology and sedimentary rocks were important on far more battlefields than either igneous or metamorphic rocks," and that this influence "has been underappreciated by historians."

More info: University of Georgia Press

     Posted By: Alex - Fri Dec 01, 2023
     Category: War | Environmentalism and Ecology | Books | Nineteenth Century

I would guess this is a result of “publish or perish.”
Posted by Judy on 12/01/23 at 01:19 PM
It sounds like Lauzier's phony university thesis written by uber-nerds in his comic books.
Posted by Yudith on 12/01/23 at 03:49 PM
If it wasn't $45 for a paperback, I'd probably get a copy. Since he's a professor with access to local sites, a reputation to maintain, and (probable) knowledge his work is never going to propel him to fame and fortune no matter what, I'm reasonably confident his data is right (even if his conclusions may be a bit biased).

In my mind, it's like the blind men describing an elephant. Each thinks their view is the only right one, and he has the proof in his hands. While the truth is never just one thing, it's interesting to see one aspect analyzed to absurd levels. If you dive to those depths with several aspects, you'll have a much better understanding than if you spent the same amount of time studying only generalized texts.

As a writer who often has to do a bit of worldbuilding, it's never a waste of time to learn some less-than-obvious facts in important fields (Geology Rocks!). 99.9999999999% of them will never be important to a story, but on those rare occasions when you can use something, it's like Erato whispering in your ear.
Posted by Phideaux on 12/01/23 at 07:30 PM
I mean... let's be honest, the terrain around Waterloo was absolutely crucial to the outcome of the battle. Mr. Hippensteel, for all that his name is hilarious, may have a point.
Posted by Richard Bos on 12/02/23 at 10:26 AM
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