Thursday, March 27, 2014

"Solid Defense Winning Over Crowd-Appealing Dunking"

First of all, let it be known that I have always took pride in being a solid defensive post player.  Yes, I have thrown down the occasional dunk, but I am much more satisfied by holding my opponent to 1 for 20 shooting from the field.

OK, now with that out of the way, let me get to what I really want to talk about.

The Junto March Madness Tournament is really getting a lot of publicity.  College websites are now touting graduates whose books are advancing in the pool.

I love Rebecca Goetz's The Baptism of Early Virginia.  It took me a few days, but I am no longer bitter that her book knocked my Was America Founded as a Christian Nation? out of the Junto March Madness tournament in the first round. :-)  In fact, on Goetz's march through the field she has defeated two of the three 2012 George Washington Book Prize finalists, knocking off Maya Jasanoff's Liberty's Exiles in the second round.

Joseph Hall, a history professor at Goetz's alma mater--Bates College--is touting The Baptism of Early Virginia's success in the tournament from the pages of the Bates PR website.  Over at "Bates News," Jim Burns has an article about Goetz and her book.  In the article Hall has this to say about Goetz's first round match-up:

The Baptism of Early Virginia addresses the ways that religion influenced how English colonists gradually constructed a system of racially based slavery, and it has had an impressive run against a wide range of very important books in early American history.

Her run might not be as dramatic as Dayton’s to the Sweet 16 over Ohio State and Syracuse, but her success does say very interesting things about how she is getting historians to think better (if not improving their perimeter shooting).

In the first round, she was paired against another historian of the ways that religion shaped early America, John Fea. His history of the religious roots of the young republic of the U.S. might appeal more to a popular audience, but I think Rebecca benefited from Colonial historians’ continuing fascination with the origins of slavery in early America. 

Think of that win as solid defense winning out over crowd-appealing dunking.