A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War by Thomas Fleming. PART 2 of 2.

Jun 13, 2017, 12:00 AM

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A Disease in the Public Mind: A New Understanding of Why We Fought the Civil War by Thomas Fleming. PART 2 of 2.

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 --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Review ForeWard, Summer 2013 “Extremely captivating…Ties together disparate people and events in revealing ways…Fascinating and entertaining.”

Philadelphia Tribune, 5/23/13 “Makes a convincing case that the polarization that divided the North and South and led to the Civil War began decades earlier than most historians are willing to admit…A Disease in the Public Mind is an attempt to offer understanding and forgiveness for both sides of a war the continues to challenge the country's founding principles of liberty and equality.”

Garden Grove Journal, 5/23/13 “[Fleming's] research is excellent…This book presents an interesting perspective on the Civil War and its causes that is a clear departure from most of the literature on that subject.”

Huffington Post, 8/27/2013 “With myth destroying zeal and careful research Fleming contends that a fanatical sense of moral superiority on the part of the abolitionists, an irrational fear of a race war by Southerners abetted by sinister political posturing, and a deeply biased media were the prime motivating factors in a war that by far surpassed the casualties of all wars combined since America was founded…Fleming delves deeply into the hate and alarm engendered by both sides.”

Praise for A Disease in the Public Mind

"Lincoln would have liked this brilliant book. It lights a path through history to his great goal: an America united by understanding and forgiveness."—Charles Bracelen Flood, author of 1864: Lincoln at the Gates of History

"For a different take on the Civil War...Thomas Fleming is a delightful and provocative historian."—Washington Times

"A sweeping work"—Civil War Book Review

Kirkus Reviews, March 2013 “[A] thesis-driven tour.”

Booklist, 4/1 “The prolific Fleming, for decades a fixture among American historians, pinpoints public opinion as the proximate origin of the war…Making a plausible presentation of antebellum attitudes and illusions, Fleming is sure to spark lively discussion about the Civil War.”

Publishers Weekly, 3/18 “[Fleming is] always a quirky, contrarian writer-historian.”

What Would the Founders Think?, 4/10/13 “An interesting and readable book. In the course of Fleming's narrative he casts light on some little discussed related events.”

Roanoke Times, 4/26/13 “A thoughtful examination of the root cause of that costly conflagration that interrup...