This is much less a review of Staley than it is a screed against Fogel and Engerman for reasons I just can't figure out. They have to endure the usual onslaught, despite the fact that Fogel's Without Consent or Contract was widely praised in the profession (by Genovese, McPherson, -- hardly "cliometricians" by any measure) as a powerful and amply documented study that draws upon a multitude of quantitative and qualitative evidence that did indeed rely heavily on what the reviewer calls "highly developed methodologies" that F&E supposedly declared irrelevant with Time on the Cross. Fogel, who is no longer around to fend off these criticisms, was a demographer by trade, who brought a rich and previously ignored type of evidence into the study of a number of historical issues and fields. The reviewer offers more skepticism than understanding of the nature of digital history, which he lumps with other misguided attempts to rethink historical methodology and somehow manages to juxtapose in opposition to the written word. Is everyone who questions "traditional historical methodologies" used since the dawn of Man supposed to be guilty by association with two scholars who launched a remarkable debate about the nature of historical research and found themselves on the losing side of the quarrel? I see nothing here about the possible impact of digital visualization on military history and studies, let alone the tremendous promise it holds out for teaching history (a particular interest of Staley's). Meanwhile, the "cliometricians" (a group much larger and more catholic in its membership than two scholars of American slavery) are alive and kicking, offering pathbreaking studies of inequality, industrialization, transportation development, and fiscal policy, as even a glance at the Journal of Economic History will reveal. Digital humanities is transforming the arts and letters, and I haven't encountered a single practitioner of it who claims that it will "replace prose and the methods that have been used for the past twenty-four centuries."
Peter Knupfer, Michigan State University