I don't see this as apologetic. I’ve never seen such detail. I've chucked at his footnotes. He is an equal opportunity smack-down artist on occasion. He calls crap crap when he sees it. This includes material from watchtower writers and everyone else. If he sees something as historically inaccurate, he says so. I can’t speak for him, but I see implied criticism of what Dr. de Vienne calls on her web page "a well known tract society." See this from his essay:
Mythology replaces history when lack of curiosity is coupled by lack of thorough research. Among Russell’s modern-day friends this is especially pronounced. A number of letters passed between us and institutions representing descendant religions. In a nearly uniform way, they focus on Russell, express lack of interest in anyone else, and simply do not look for detail. This distorts the history. Russell did not function in a vacuum. He was influenced by his friends, by his enemies, by what he read and experienced. These details are recoverable.
There is a fairly interesting examination of Russell's business ventures stuck on the end of chapter one. I'm impressed. I wish there was a bit more depth. But it's an example of what I said above. He takes apart Russelite claims, leaving them in the dust. He takes on some common opposition claims and pretty much trashes them too. So one is left with a flat narrative. I asked him if he intended to enlarge on the subject, and he said most of the business history was more appropriate for book three in this series. I've been looking on my own, but I can't improve on what they've written.
There is more detail (I'm fascinated by the details they give) than I was aware was out there. They mention a furniture business I knew nothing of. Stock investments on Wall Street are mentioned based on the Russell v. Russell transcript. Really fascinating is a quotation from the King v. Ross transcript. J. J. Ross's atorney and Russell. Interesting result. I'd paste it here, but last time I did something like that Dr. de Vienne saw it and scolded me soundly.
An example of a "you got it wrong" smack down is found in Chapter Two. Chapter two details his connections to Wendell and Stetson, giving extensive biographies of both men. (They quote from Pittsburgh papers about Wendell's first visit. Very interesting stuff). When the chapter transitions from Wendell to Stetson they write this:
Some considerable nonsense has come from the pen of Ralph Orr, one time editor and writer with the World Wide Church of God (Armstrongites). Orr asserted that Wendell predicted the return of Christ for 1874 and that he was responsible for the 2520 year count for the Times of the Gentiles. He says that after the failure of 1874, Wendell “replaced” that date with 1914. None of this is true. Gomes and Bowman suggested that Wendell provided a Seventh-day Adventist influence. This piece of utter nonsense should bring a sense of shame to the authors and their publisher Zondervan, though it probably does not.
They can become snippy. And it's very equally distributed.
In short, I don't see this as an apology, and I don't think they intend it to be one. I think we should take him at his word and see it as an attempt to tell accurate history.
I shouldn't get in trouble by noting this from the last chapter of volume one, the book due out sometime next year, because they posted it on the public blog:
Russell presupposed things about Adam’s creation and subsequent sin that aren’t found in the narrative or in the Apostle Paul’s comments. Russell wrote that Adam had significant grounds for doubting God. “What did Adam know about the matter?” he wrote. “Here was another being at his side who contradicted God, telling him that he would not die … that God was Jealous, because eating of this fruit would make him a god also.” He thought everyone would make the same decision Adam made. He thought God permitted Adam’s temptation and sin because “it was necessary that his creatures should know good from evil.”
Russell’s statement betrays profound scriptural-ignorance at least on this point. In the Genesis narrative the Serpent speaks to Eve not Adam. The Apostle’s commentary on this says Eve was deceived. Paul says Adam was not deceived, hence a willful sinner. Russell altered this view in later years, though he continued to think Adam would be resurrected and rehabilitated. If he had in 1878 seen Adam’s test as “fair” and Adam as “fully equipped mentally” his rebuttals would have been more to the point.
This does not seem to me to be something an apologist would write.
On Terry's definition: Many Baptists emphasize christ's return. They are not adventists. Besides, you're replying to their discussion without having read it. That's a bad idea. In the 19th Century there was a distinctive difference between Literalists and Adventists. Adventist historians such as Froom (Prophetic Faith of Our Fathers) discuss this. Both sects emphasized Christ's return. But Literalists were not Adventists. An attempt to draw Literalists into the Advent fold failed because Literalists thought Adventists were stupidly ignorent of the scriptures. This is not a new thought. This is well doucmented by Adventists in their own histories back to 1874 and discussed on the Voice of Truth back in the 1840s. This material is not hard to find.