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World Association of International Studies

Post "Received Wisdom" and the Nicaraguan Contra War
Created by John Eipper on 01/18/19 4:31 AM

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"Received Wisdom" and the Nicaraguan Contra War (Timothy Brown, USA, 01/18/19 4:31 am)

Gary Moore's reference to the Nicaraguan Contras reminds me of a question I'd like to ask my fellow WAISers:

I served more than a decade in Central America (Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) as a Marine Embassy Guard or diplomat. I spent seven years after I retired researching, writing and successfully defending my doctoral dissertation. It took me several more years to find a publisher willing to publish it, because what I documented did not support the "received wisdom" of any "Latin America experts."

It was finally reviewed and recommended by three former career Ambassadors with decades worth of hands-on experience on the ground and published as The Real Contra War: Highlander Peasant Resistance in Nicaragua by the University of Oklahoma Press. Once published, it's since been made "unavailable" in a number of university libraries.

Has anyone else in WAIS read it? If so, I'd like to know what they thought of it.

JE comments:  You've put me on the spot!  The only Tim Brown opus in the WAIS library is your excellent autobiography, Diplomarine.  My apologies, but I'll go on record that I'll put The Real Contra War on my summer reading list. 

Good God--with temperatures below zero predicted for the weekend, can I already be talking about summer reading?  This semester at the College I'm directing nine senior projects.  (My previous record was five.)  This involves countless hours of doing what I do most:  editing.  Except for WAIS, I fear there'll be little time for anything else.

If I may pry, Tim--how has your book been made unavailable?

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  • How Do Library Books Become "Unavailable"? (Edward Jajko, USA 01/19/19 4:49 AM)
    I join JE in asking Timothy Brown how "a number of university libraries" have made his book The Real Contra War "unavailable." And, if he knows, which ones? WorldCat lists at least 620 copies in various public, college, and university libraries. (620 copies! Makes for a comfortable retirement, no?)

    Books can become "unavailable" within libraries for many reasons, among them theft or other misappropriation, "squirreling-away," mislabeling, incorrect shelving, and of course malicious interference for political or other ideological reasons. Tim may recall the library of the Hoover Institution, which had closed stacks and idiosyncratic classification systems. Materials incorrectly shelved could be lost for years.

    JE comments:  Important insight from WAISworld's foremost librarian, Ed Jajko.  For an academic book, 620 copies is very good.  In Hispanic literary studies (my field), sales of 150-200 would already be a bestseller.

    Anyone who's tried recently to publish a scholarly book knows that the industry is in crisis, even obsolescence.  Our own Ronald Hilton saw this 35 years ago, when he embraced the Internet as the way to reach the largest audience inexpensively.  Academia has failed to catch up, though:  even as it becomes increasingly difficult to publish a work in ink-and-paper form, scholars still don't get adequate recognition for electronic publications.

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    • "The Real Contra War" and Royalties (Timothy Brown, USA 01/21/19 1:55 PM)
      I thank Edward (January 19th) Jajko for his research, although my question was how many of my colleagues in WAIS have read my book The Real Contra War, not how many libraries have misplaced, lost or buried a copy.

      In fact I had no idea so many copies have even been sold, since my contract with UOK Press requires them to send me an accounting of all sales of it.  I'm a freelance writer and have to declare my income on my tax return.  I'll go back to my tax documents and see if I can confirm that they made these reports and I received royalties for their sales to academic libraries of that many copies, since I can assure Ed I've never received anywhere near enough from sales of all five of my books to do much more than buy an occasional lunch at Starbucks.

      Thankfully I'm a retired Consul General, so I live off my pension not my research books.  Maybe my next book From Warriors to Witches will do better.

      JE comments:  "Freelance writer" has such a glamorous ring to it, but it must be a constant struggle to pay the bills.  I would never be brave enough to go down that uncertain road. 

      Who in WAISworld can give us more insight on the economics of freelancing?

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