One of those rare, very special days when all the magazines this blog subscribes to - LRB, NYRB, TLS and New Yorker - tumble on to the mat at once.
The TLS letters page leads with this from Gwyn Campbell of McGill University, Montreal:
Sir, – Readers of the TLS unfamiliar with the field of historical scholarship on Madagascar may find themselves perplexed by the emotional tone of a recent letter from Pier M. Larson (April 2) regarding my review of Madagascar: A short history by Solofo Randrianja and Stephen Ellis. Dr Larson is indeed, as he claims, a “leading historian of Madagascar”, but I would like to point out that in the English-speaking world, there are only three of us: Larson, Ellis and myself (for years, I have struggled to gain admittance for the former British ambassador, Mervyn Brown, on the basis of his excellent general history, but to no avail; witness Larson’s veiled attack on Brown by distinguishing himself as a “professional” historian). Both Larson and I are children of missionaries to the island (I was born there); Ellis and I met in Antananarivo in 1978, when we were both doing PhD research. Peer review being the essence of academic progress, we are all three continually called upon to comment on each other’s work. Ellis and Larson back each other up at every turn...
There is more: but what more do you want? The island upbringing, the missionary parents, the scholarly isolation of the field with only three people in it, the rivalry spread over 30 years; and there'd be lemurs. It's a novel, just waiting for you to write it. Come on. Can't you already smell that Booker?