When Foucault scholars get into the issue of Foucault’s scholarly accuracy, it is often because of articles such as this one, referring to the new edition of History of Madness:
Nikolas Rose rejoices that “Now, at last, English-speaking readers can have access to the depth of scholarship that underpins Foucault’s analysis”. Indeed they can, and one hopes that they will read the text attentively and intelligently, and will learn some salutary lessons. One of those lessons might be amusing, if it had no effect on people’s lives: the ease with which history can be distorted, facts ignored, the claims of human reason disparaged and dismissed, by someone sufficiently cynical and shameless, and willing to trust in the ignorance and the credulity of his customers.
If you’re interested in this, compare with Colin Gordon’s review I linked to earlier.
Update. Here’s someone who takes the review cited above (it’s from the TLS) seriously:
What Scull does is demolish the factual basis upon which Foucault’s work rests- he goes after Foucault’s footnotes- it is a fine example of the way a thesis can be destroyed by a historian just going through the empirical work of examining the citations.
Updated II: The trouble with these negative reviews is that they’re eagerly picked up by the partisan culture-warriors such as the rather silly people at Butterflies and Wheels.
The most interesting thing to me is actually the comments section, in which a couple of fans (Foucaultheads?) accuse Mr. Scull of pedantically nitpicking. This in spite of the fact that he actually demolishes the central thesis of Foucault’s study in his article. You have to wonder what wouldn’t be seen as nitpicking in this case.