The amazing thing about history is just how many people want to read about it. Step into any Barnes & Noble and you’ll find shelves full of glossy, high-priced history books on a wide variety of subjects. Those volumes aren’t there just to fill space; popular presses literally sell millions of copies of history and history-related books each year. While these books do tend to cluster around certain subjects — predominantly American history, political and military history, biography, and the Founding Fathers — there’s no denying that many lay Americans find history a stimulating and important subject worth spending their hard-earned dollars on.
The problem with Young’s argument, however, is that the he keeps going back to one simple (and troubling) point-that somehow sales of books at Borders, B&N, etc. should drive what we write about and study. That ain’t the way it works, nor should it be.