We’ve previously mentioned the “Page 99 Test,” with which one can “Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you,” according to Ford Madox Ford. Marshal Zeringue edits a blog that follows this theme, asking authors to test their books and analyze the content based on page 99. The authors respond, giving the blog a unique way of reporting about new books. Most recently, Michael T. Bernath evaluated his latest book, Confederate Minds: The Struggle for Intellectual Independence in the Civil War South.
While page 99 captures well the spirit and vision of Confederate nationalists at the start of the war, it does not speak to what Confederates actually did in their attempt to secure southern intellectual independence during the war – the periodicals they launched, the books they published, the poems they wrote, the plays they produced, the critiques they leveled – which is the focus of the bulk of my book. Nor does it mention the related and essential campaign for southern educational independence in which Confederate teachers and educational reformers sought to liberate southern children from the pervasive and, in their view, insidious influences of the North by writing and publishing their own textbooks, training and hiring their own native teachers, and supporting their own native schools.
His full response can be found at The Page 99 Test blog