From Publishers Weekly
In this laughable screed, a senior fellow at the libertarian/free market Ludwig von Mises Institute charges that most scholars of the Civil War are part of a "Lincoln cult" and determined to fool the American public into thinking that our 16th president was a hero. At the root of the author's loathing of Lincoln is an ideological commitment to states' sovereignty, a doctrine largely undone by the Civil War. DiLorenzo believes that the centralized nation-state that emerged after the war is incompatible with true democracy. His supposed revelations–-that Northerners owned slaves into the 19th century; that Lincoln advocated the relocation of black Americans to Liberia; that Lincoln did not, at the outset of the war, aim to end slavery—are well known to anyone who has read one of the many recent books on Lincoln. But Lincoln is not DiLorenzo's real target; he saves his most vitriolic bombast for the scholars who dominate American universities (most notably Eric Foner) and who, he charges, are "cover-up artists" and "propagandists." DiLorenzo accuses them of using their Lincoln mythology to advocate big government and other "imperialistic" and "totalitarian" policies. DiLorenzo accuses the "cultists" of having a political agenda. He may well be hoisted by his own petard. (Oct.)
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DiLorenzo directs acid criticism at President Lincoln in this espousal of "Lost Cause" ideology. Lincoln was the legal winner of the 1860 presidential election, and it is vital to contrast the legality of his election with the speculative right to nullification and secession that DiLorenzo champions in this defense of the Lost Cause. Intellectually, DiLorenzo has a nugget of a case, but it is overargued and is not measured against the secessionists' thwarting of a legitimate election by sundering the U.S. Emotionally, the text gains energy from DiLorenzo's claim that a "cult" of biographers and Civil War historians conceals the historical Lincoln from the public, but if this cabal exits, it is unable to stanch a steady flow of anti-Lincoln books. However, general readers are accustomed to noncritical admiration of Lincoln and might be motivated by DiLorenzo's assertive, free-swinging style into exploring the validity of his argument. Gilbert Taylor
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