From Dissertation to . . . What?

I have just finished reading William Germano, From Dissertation to Book (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), which I can recommend to any scholar, not just those writing their first books. In my case, it offers food for thought about editing and writing in general. More importantly, it has helped encourage me to take up my research again, even if that probably won’t lead to a book.

That has meant picking up the old dissertation—”Wilhelm Groener, Officering, and the Schlieffen Plan” (Georgetown University, 2006)—and rereading it with an eye to developing article ideas and a modest research agenda for the next couple years. Since I plan to reflect on this work here, let me begin by referring to some old blog posts originally published on Clio and Me that offer essential context:

Finally, my dissertation abstract and table of contents provide a useful starting point. And if you find you must read the whole dissertation, that is now available at the Internet Archive.

I updated this post on November 24, 2014 to update the blog links, now that Clio and Me is closed.


  1. Mark given the impending centenary I suspect this would make a useful contribution to the historiography and you should give some serious thoughts to publishing it as a monograph.

  2. There’s a lot of interesting material in it, but I can’t see going beyond a few relevant articles, especially given my other work obligations. That’s why I decided to put the thing on the Internet Archive and make it available to researchers and hobbyists alike.

    I’m not afraid of that step, because anything I write and publish on Groener, the officer corps, and the Schlieffen Plan will be in substantially new form, even if based on the research and passages from the dissertation.

    For me to pull off a worthwhile book, I’d have to do a lot more research, for which I simply do not have the time. I’m also not sure I want to devote more than a few article’s worth of my life to Groener on top of what I have already done, especially since there is not much for me to be gained from writing a monograph.

    Besides, maybe it will soon be time to explore new topics, too, ones to which I have better access to sources for in my own DC backyard—an important consideration given my limited vacation time.