Now I have no use for trolls, whether they live under the bridge or on-line. My darling passive-aggressive mom taught me to be polite or silent, even if that meant biting my tongue. So, I never thought I’d be blocked as a troll for telling the truth. But then I reckoned without the World’s Largest Book Pusher.
WLBP started mainlining me books back when the dot-com revolution was in force. First I was a regular patron, then a “1-click” shopper and an early participant in their on-line review program. WLBP and I both were happy. I got a lifeline of books and WLBP got my money. Then Sandra Worth’s Love & War had to appear.
Love and War is another historical novel based on the War of the Roses. Now, I became a fan of the losing side of that war before I learned to drive so I tend to scoop up any book on the subject, non-fiction or otherwise. This one promised to focus on John Neville, one of the supporting players. Off I go through the pages, happy as a lark until I hit a passage where Neville is writing home to his wife.
“Tomorrow we give battle. Lest I be unable to write you again, I send you this missive so you may know my thoughts when I am no more.”
Wait a minute. I knew those lines. I had heard those rhythmic sentiments before. I glanced back at the text. It was a moving testament of love; a soldier’s realization of all that he would lose if he died in an upcoming battle. Then Neville wished that he and his wife would both live to see their son grown “to honorable knighthood” and I recognized the real source of those words.
That moving passage actually was written by a soldier, but not one in the War of the Roses. It was written by Major Sullivan Ballou of Rhode Island a week before he died at Bull Run. Ken Burns featured the letter in his Civil War series and I wept the first time I heard it. Now, here were his phrases, word for word, in some misbegotten, romance set in the Middle Ages!
I spent the next hour creating a reader’s review on the book saying what I thought of Ms. Worth’s plagiarism. I cited sources and dates and prepared a comparison of the two letters with highlighted copied phrases. I admitted Ms. Worth hadn’t broken the law; Major Ballou’s letter was in the public domain and she could copy it whenever she liked. Still, it’s lazy writing and dishonest to claim another’s work as your own and it’s despicable to steal the eloquent last words of a soldier. I thought potential customers should be aware of these flaws before they bought the book. The computer servers in World’s Largest Book Pusher disagreed.
I submitted my review but it failed to appear, the only time that has happened. After five minutes of waiting, I assumed the computer hit a glitch and started rewriting my essay, furious but sure I was right. I submitted again, after saving the text of my essay. Again, my commentary disappeared. I rebooted, and checked everything worked before submitting the essay a third time. My other reviews were uploaded immediately but my Love and War review was apparently blocked. I started to get the message.
Now, if I submit a review to the World’s Largest Book Pusher, I remember to be direct and bland. I don’t want to be voted off the island. If that happens, I’ll have to move to the underside of some bridge and hang out with the other trolls.