Gilmore, Donald L.
Gilmore, Donald L.
Married. Education: University of Missouri at Kansas City, B.A., M.A.
U.S. Army's Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command, and General Staff College Press, Fort Leavenworth, KS, senior editor, 1984-2001; previously lectured in English at the University of Missouri, Kansas City. Ride with the Devil, Universal Studios production, technical consultant, 1998; owner of an antique business. Military service: Served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps.
Commander's Award for Civilian Service, 1997; Department of the Army Meritorious Civilian Service Medal, 2001.
(Editor, with Carolyn D. Conway) William E. DePuy, Selected Papers of General William E. DePuy: First Commander, U.S. Army, Training and Doctrine Command, 1 July 1973, Combat Studies Institute (Fort Leavenworth, KS), 1994.
Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, Pelican Publishing (Gretna, LA), 2006.
Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of the West, History Today, and Wild West.
Donald L. Gilmore was educated at the University of Missouri at Kansas City, where he earned both his undergraduate and master's degrees. He taught English at the college level for a time, but ultimately went to work for the U.S. Army's Combat Studies Institute, U.S. Army Command, and General Staff College Press in Leavenworth, Kansas, where, over a seventeen-year career, he rose to the position of senior editor. Despite having majored in English, Gilmore has always been fascinated with the history of his home state and the surrounding area, an interest that led him to research genealogy, explore local caves, and read extensively on local Civil War history. Though he himself is the descendent of Union soldiers, he came to the conclusion over the course of his research that history had been too harsh on local Confederate troops. In 1998, Gilmore served as a consultant on the Universal Studios film, Ride with the Devil, which was directed by Ang Lee and was based on the Border War which he had so heavily researched. He has also written articles on the subject for several journals, including Journal of the West, History Today, and Wild West. Gilmore has served as the editor on a number of books, and is the author of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border and Eyewitness Vietnam: Firsthand Accounts from Operation Rolling Thunder to the Fall of Saigon.
In Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, Gilmore attempts to present readers with what he believes to be a more evenhanded and fair description of the Border War that took place between Union and Confederate soldiers over the line between Missouri and Kansas. His goal is to consider the events from the point of view of the South, rather than simply providing the victors' outlook. The war between these two particular states was touched off by President Lincoln's specific initiative to maintain Missouri as a Northern state over the course of the Civil War. Private property was repeatedly confiscated, areas were fought over, and Missouri was eventually put under martial law. At one point, a major portion of the population dwelling at the border itself was deported by Union troops, resulting in a major backlash by the citizens of Missouri. The "Missouri Ruffians" became known for their brutal dealings. However, Gilmore attempts to show that both sides engaged in dirty tactics with often violent outcomes, and that not just the individuals fighting on the Missouri side of the border were responsible for the bloody battles that took place. He begins by analyzing the legislation in effect at this time, including the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Missouri Compromises of 1820 and 1850, showing the escalation of tensions. He also discusses the major players of the political arena at the time, such as John Brown, James Montgomery, James Lane, and others. He looks at the escalation of violence on both sides, and attempts to determine just what caused each side to take the stands that they chose. Reviews of the book were mixed. William Garrett Piston, writing for the Journal of Southern History, remarked that "despite his claims of objectivity, … Gilmore writes from an overtly Confederate perspective. He also ignores important scholarship on his topic." Kyle S. Sinisi, writing for History: Review of New Books, found that "although Gilmore correctly argues that historians have not been terribly sympathetic to the guerrillas and their atrocities, his attempt to rehabilitate these men is problematic," concluding that "he has not researched widely enough." However, Jeffrey Wingo, in a contribution for the Military Review, dubbed Gilmore's effort "a vivid, enlightening account." He went on to conclude: "A thorough, well-researched study of the realities of life during a particularly volatile time, it should appeal to scholars and laymen alike."
Gilmore told CA: "The most surprising thing I learned by writing history is the lack of objectivity employed by most historians. Being an English major with M.A. and B.A. degrees in that field exposed me to a wide-open approach to the truth. Every English major approaches the great works of literature from his own, personal perspective, and he is allowed to develop his theses more or less without interference as long as he can support them. In history, it's another matter entirely.
"The way to get ahead in history is to ape your professors' historical philosophies and to absorb the status quo, the accepted interpretations of the history discipline as a whole. That is the truth…. In this odd-duck world, in order to be accepted you have to accept the latest interpretations of history unswervingly and espouse and cite the views of pet historians currently in vogue without fail. Thus, most historians might agree with that old truism: ‘The winners write the histories’…. Political correctness does not stop at the front door to history departments of major universities: the organizational headquarters are inside. While historians maintain they are giving students and readers a balanced view of historic periods, they are really giving them the liberal side of things. It's as simple as that: history equals politics, either right or left, but seldom in the center."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bookwatch, February 1, 2006, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border.
History: Review of New Books, June 22, 2006, Kyle S. Sinisi, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, p. 109.
Journal of Southern History, February 1, 2008, William Garrett Piston, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, p. 183.
Journal of the West, January 1, 2007, Anne Brinton, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border, p. 98.
Kansas History, spring, 2006, Nicole Etcheson, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border.
Military Review, May 1, 2006, Jeffrey Wingo, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border.
Crystal Coast Book Festival,http://www.crystalcoastbookfestival.com/ (May 22, 2008), author profile.
Curled Up with a Good Book,http://www.curledup.com/ (November 1, 2005), Bennet Exton, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (October 1, 2007), Daniel Sauerwein, review of Civil War on the Missouri-Kansas Border.
Pelican Publishing Web site,http://www.pelicanpub.com/ (May 22, 2008), author profile.