A helpful interpretation of Kant should do a number of things. First, it should have a clear conception of its target audience and their familiarity with Kant. Second, it should treat systematically Kant's method and strategy in the Critique, including the place of each argument in his "architectonic." Third, as background it should explain clearly the views of the philosophers to whom Kant is responding. Fourth, it should take seriously Kant's technical terminology and the positions based on it. And finally, it should demonstrate good familiarity with the Kant literature. This book misses the mark on all counts.
This seems to me to leave out something crucial, which is the reception of the work in the immediate cultural milieu. As far as I can tell, this isn't anomalous in contemporary history though.
While doing job searches in history, I've noticed that the norm in dissertations concerns deep reading of the figure's texts themselves, and sometimes discussion of what came before the figure. But there is almost never discussion of the immediate reception of the figure. Though I'm not a historian, this strikes me as frankly weird and potentially damaging. Is it possible to be a Kant scholar, for example, without having any expertise on German Idealism?
I'm interested if any historians think that the lack of this norm has harmed analytic history of philosophy. First, two possible examples.
I'm not a historian of philosophy, but I do tend to find history talks the most interesting at APAs (in part because I have no expertise so have a lot to learn). From this it seems to me that with respect to both Kant and Hegel, a big contemporary project involves reading them divorced from the metaphysical disputes of their age. With respect to Kant, Henry Allison is perhaps the biggest name doing this, and with respect to Hegel, Robert Pippin is.
On Pippin and anti-metaphysical readings of Hegel, one need only read Frederick Beiser or Robert Stern (who is better on this one issue, because Stern clearly demonstrates that the metaphysical issues are living ones, something Beiser does not dismiss with respect to the figures between Kant and Hegel, but does with respect to Hegel himself). I don't know the Kant landscape well enough to know if there is a counter-movement with respect to the desire to read Kant as only addressing issues in the philosophy of mind (or language, or whatever) or of being a commonsensical realist about external objects.
However, it does seem to me that the objects of Allison's critique (Bennett and Strawson) are much, much closer to all of the initial commentors on Kant (Jacobi, Sholze, Maimon, etc. for whom the status of the noumenal as well as problems with the intution/concept distinction were central), and the manner in which these commentaries became engines for German Idealism.
If this is correct (and I realize it may not be), wouldn't it be strong evidence for Bennett and Strawson? Kant's contemporaries, and the great philosophers of German Idealism, shared a huge cultural and philosophical cachet with him that we can only barely reconstruct. Isn't it monstrously presumptuous to assume that they all got him wrong in simplistic ways?
Again, with respect to Kant (though not Hegel, who I probably should have focused on to raise the general point) almost all of this is gleamed from lurking in the background of conferences. So if I'm getting anti-Strawsonian Kant scholars wrong, I'm still interested in the general issue of the relevance of the immediate reception of philosophers. I do know at least that with respect to dissertations, students are not expected to manifest any expertise with respect to (or to take into account in any manner) immediate reception.
Let me end with something positive. If the thing I'm focusing on is a genuine problem, Richard Sorabji's Ancient Commentators series seems to me to be an essential paradigm buster. From this point on, people writing PhDs on Aristotle have access to hundreds of volumes of how Aristotle was received in the ancient world. I think that someday someone will do something as all-encompassing with respect to Kant.