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A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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Titles regularly appear that posit the cause of the American Civil War—one indication that the war has no unassailable explanation. The prolific Fleming, for decades a fixture among American historians, pinpoints public opinion as the proximate origin of the war, specifically its acquisition by 1860 of a polarized, paranoid character, pitting Northerners’ fear of “slave power” against Southerners’ terror of a race war sparked by Northern abolitionists (John Brown was their nightmare made real). Fleming recounts attitudes of prominent Founders toward slavery, emphasizing how their general recognition of its injustice never quite trended, during the early decades of the 1800s, toward emancipation. Instead of declining, the peculiar institution retrenched and expanded. Without understanding white Southerners’ predicaments, Fleming argues, abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison damned them, their region, and the Union. An array of Southerners’ ripostes to Northern criticisms peppers Fleming’s narrative of each section’s exacerbating willingness to impute baleful motives to the other. Making a plausible presentation of antebellum attitudes and illusions, Fleming is sure to spark lively discussion about the Civil War. --Gilbert Taylor
Wall Street Journal, 5/25/13
A great deal of fine scholarship Mr. Fleming more than supports his arguments Well-researched and well-written [A] superbly revisionist book.”
ForeWard, Summer 2013
For a different take on the Civil War and for those of us with a contrarian mindset, Thomas Fleming is a delightful and provocative historian.”
Thomas Fleming is known for his provocative, politically incorrect, and very accessible histories that challenge many of the clichés of current American history books. Fleming is a revisionist in the best conservative sense of the word. His challenges to accepted wisdom are not with an agenda, but with a relentless hunger for the truth and a passion to present the past as it really was, along with capturing the attitudes and culture of the times A Disease in the Public Mind [is] perhaps his most provocative book yet.”
Politics & Patriotism (blog), 7/10/13
A Disease in the Public Mind is just what we need in this era of growing frustrations over government intrusion and fears of domestic and international terrorism It is my sincere hope that thoughtful examinations of our past like this can help us avoid such extreme socio-political upheavals in the future.”
Thomas Fleming has done a genuine service in writing A Disease in the Public Mind Consistently fascinating in the new dimensions it brings to historical figures whom readers may think they know but in fact understand only imperfectly Americans who read A Disease in the Public Mind will see their country and what was, for many, its defining conflict, in a very different way from the typical one, and will understand that the book's title refers to an illness that neither the Civil War, nor the peace afterwards, nor the intervening century and a half, has completely cured.”
Milwaukee Shepherd-Express, 6/10/13
[Fleming's] fast-moving, erudite, yet accessible account will keep most readers turning the pages Fleming adeptly shows the inexorable buildup of mutual hatred and paranoia between North and South, primarily over slavery. He illustrates potential turning points along the sad road to national catastrophe, the what ifs' that make history so interesting.”
Reference & Research Book News, June 2013
Written in plain language for general readers, the book describes the roles and personalities of key figures, some almost forgotten by posterity and others well known.”
One of the most engaging authors of our time Fleming deftly explains the passions and polarization that led to the horrific conflict.”
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 6/16/13
Counterintuitive One of those books where you wish you had the author in the room with you to defend and discuss his positions.”
Morristown Green, 6/27/13
If they had a Hall of Fame for historians, Thomas Fleming would be a shoo-in.”
The Weekly Standard, 7/22/13
It comes as a welcome relief when a historian of the stature of Thomas Fleming takes it upon himself to set the record straight about the complex, irresistible causes of the Civil War Well-researched and well-documented [A] splendid story.”
Philadelphia Tribune, 5/23/13
Garden Grove Journal, 5/23/13
Though it is early in the year, I am inclined to believe that one of the best new books about U.S. history will be Thomas Fleming's A Disease in the Public Mind [It] provides an insight that few others about the Civil War have done I heartily recommend reading this book to understand what led to the Civil Wara long processand the failed compromises that could not deter it.”
[Fleming] digs deep into why there was a War Between the States, starting years before anyone picked up a gun at Fort Sumter . This isn't a book one would want to browseit's detailed down to the smallest itembut scholars of the Civil War will find it very interesting and, perhaps, thought-provoking.”
A new take of the origins and background of the Civil War by one of the pre-eminent scholars and writers on the era There are plenty of anecdotes in here to surprise you regardless of your stance or political leanings.”
The Waterline, 8/1/13
Fleming is a regular staple among those who wish to understand America's Revolutionary history Those with a true passion for American history will enjoy this new book.”
Veterans Reporter, August 2013
This book is a breath of fresh air concerning the ever-growing library of work regarding the Civil War.”
Fleming has brought us an intelligent yet accessible account of part of this country's early history. He posits compelling new reasons to add to the debate over the causes of the Civil War.”
[A] thesis-driven tour.”
Publishers Weekly, 3/18
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Top customer reviews
The South was driven primarily out of fear of slave rebellion or ,alternately, freed-slave rampage and the slaughter of whites exhibited in the Caribean islands. They had a tiger by the tail and didn't see how to let go.
The North, and especially the grunts, fought to preserve the Union, but more importantly, to preserve the unique concept of rule by the people as opposed to rule by king, royals, or elites.
Fleming says a "survey" of troops among Sherman's march through Georgia exposed their motivations. As some said " we would rather shoot an abolitionist than a Johnny Rebel", indicating their animosity towards those they felt unnecessarily instigated this slaughterous conflict.
A must read for those wishing to understand our history.
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