DiLorenzo on Fleming’s A Disease in the Public Mind

I know some of you will enjoy this.

I’ve read Fleming’s book, which seems a rather curious exercise in the needless war genre of Civil War scholarship. Even then DiLorenzo’s raving review rests upon a rather selective reading of the book, for he’s silent on what Fleming says about slaveholding in the South. But why would anyone expect anything else?

Then again, there’s this. Run, Forrest, run.

22 thoughts on “DiLorenzo on Fleming’s A Disease in the Public Mind

  1. Michael Confoy July 16, 2013 / 9:20 pm

    You sent me to the Weekly Standard website! Now I have to go take a shower to get that dirty feeling off my body.

    • jfepperson July 17, 2013 / 5:15 am

      Better the Weekly Standard than LewRockwell.com 😦

      My neighbor was quite taken with a WSJ review of Fleming’s book, and asked my opinion. I told him I hadn’t read it, but was skeptical of the thesis as I understood it from him.

    • Al Mackey July 17, 2013 / 6:53 am

      The worst part was going to lewrockwell.com. I see Mr. DiLorenzo continues to love his strawmen.

  2. Jimmy Dick July 16, 2013 / 9:26 pm

    The seal of approval from DiLorenzo would be the kiss of death in historic circles. That coupled with the savage beating it has taken from actual historians is going to wipe out Fleming’s reputation.

    • chancery July 31, 2014 / 9:28 pm

      Do you have any citations for reviews from actual historians? A couple of quick searches in JSTOR turned up nothing.

      Apologies for reviving this old thread.

  3. M.D. Blough July 16, 2013 / 9:47 pm

    Amazing how both reviewers managed to overlook the Gag Rule.

    • jfepperson July 17, 2013 / 5:16 am

      Actually, Margaret, it isn’t the least bit amazing 😦 It is sadly routine.

  4. Mark July 16, 2013 / 9:56 pm

    >> You sent me to the Weekly Standard website! Now I have to go take a shower to get that dirty feeling off my body.

    Well then I guess you have something in common with DiLorenzo since that’s how he feels after reading Guelzo.

  5. David Tolleris July 16, 2013 / 10:18 pm

    DiLorenzo… History’s response to Alex Jones and INFO WARs

    • Charles Lovejoy July 22, 2013 / 5:45 pm

      David? You mean everything on Info wars is not true?

  6. Bert July 17, 2013 / 4:40 am

    It was an irritating review to read, until I got to the Wilson quote that Hillary Clinton “is a museum-quality specimen of the Yankee – self-righteous, ruthless, and self-aggrandizing.” That made me laugh.

    Fleming’s book won’t make my reading list (based on a quick read of some online reviews), but I am curious. It seems to say the war was caused by fire-eaters and abolitionists stirring people up – hardly a new idea. Is that it?

  7. John Foskett July 17, 2013 / 6:58 am

    It’s hardly a surprise that Fleming, a ‘popular” historian who would break out in hives if he had to do research in primary sources, appeals to DiLorenzo, who suffers from the same ailment. If I published a book and it were favorably reviewed by DiLorenzo, I’d sue him for libel.

  8. Tony July 17, 2013 / 7:51 am

    I was reading an interesting personal account yesterday about a plantation owner near Raymond, Mississippi. He owned 600 slaves and 6 plantations. He lived with his wife and 200 slaves on one plantation, each of the other plantations were divided amongst his children and his grandchildren, his overseers, and his overseers families. Looking at census data for this area, typically households included various cousins and other unattached white household members. This is not counting other white laborers, lawyers, merchants, railroadmen, teamsters, etc. who depended on him for their incomes.

    One slave-owner, dozens of citizens directly or indirectly dependent on him for their livelihood.

    • HankC July 17, 2013 / 8:22 am

      i’m always impressed by how independent we think we are.

      imho, 99% of the country, north and south, were following the leader.

      one day, i’ll take a census determining the percentage of southern representatives, senators and governors who were slaveholders.

      somewhat higher than 6%, i wager…

      • Talmadge Walker July 17, 2013 / 5:57 pm

        The 6% is of INDIVIDUALS who owned slaves, but typically only 1 member of the household was technically the owner of the slaves. That’s haw you can simultaneously have 6% of individuals and 30% of households be slave-owning. They never mention that.

        • M.D. Blough July 17, 2013 / 6:38 pm

          It also leaves out a significant number of whites who leased slaves from slaveowners. It provided an entree into the slaveowner caste for people who couldn’t afford the price (by the 1850s slave prices had soared) and year round expenses to purchase 1 or more slaves and/or only had need of the labor part of the year. It also provided a source of income for slaveowning families (it was not unusual for dependent family members like widows and minor orphans to be willed a small number of slaves for the express purpose of leasing them out) in slower terms of year and diverted the cost of upkeep in to others. There were others who provided services to slaveowners or to the trade itself including lawyers, bookkeepers, etc. One of the best books on the economic implications of all of this is Frederic Bancroft’s classic “Slave-Trading in the Old South”

          • Jimmy Dick July 17, 2013 / 8:30 pm

            The 6% figure fits in with the victimization defense used in the Lost Cause. Note how the Lost Causers always use that route in portraying the South as the victim when in fact the South was the aggressor. When you start analyzing what is said take a good look at anything that is used to present the South as a victim and you’ll find overwhelming evidence disproving that. The Causers for years controlled the narrative and now that has changed.

          • M.D. Blough July 17, 2013 / 9:59 pm

            A sure indication of a Causer source is a studied avoidance of anything written during the period leading up to and during the secession winter and in the early part of the war when they still believed they could and would win. When the reality of potential defeat and the horrific cost in lives and property by their actions, the back peddling to deny responsibility began.

          • John Foskett July 18, 2013 / 8:29 am

            Similar back pedaling took place among some perpetrators in the latter stages of WW II.

          • M.D. Blough July 18, 2013 / 11:41 am

            I have a book “Southern Pamphlets on Secession: November 1860-April 1861” (ed. Jon L. Wakeman). Most, as you can imagine, are pro-secession and made me alternately want to cry or punch something with their hubris. Yes, many didn’t expect war but, to a large degree, it was because they had such contempt for the US government and free states (including their people) that they (1) didn’t believe that they had the will or capability to do anything to stop secession; or (2) even if they did try, they couldn’t prevail against superior Southern military spirit. If they were going up against overwhelming odds, it was news to these pro-secessionist pamphleteers. While small in number, the anti-secession pamphlets are fascinating. I don’t recall any that were critical of slavery. There are a few Cassandra-like pamphlets from people adamant in their support of slavery who warn that secession, particularly if it resulted in war, would bring about the demise of slavery, not its continuation, and that the slave states were better off under the Constitution which tolerated slavery, no matter how imperfectly, than on its own in a Western world increasingly hostile to it. They also don’t hold the “Yankees” in contempt like their fire-eating brethren did. Those pamphlets are kind of sad. The authors see what is coming and know they are totally powerless to stop it.Then I read at least one from a border state where the pamphleteer argued that secession was not in the more Western border states interests as their economies became more diverse. While they did feel somewhat shortchanged in Washington, by eastern and the slave states where slavery was the foundation of their economy, as I recall it, the pamphleteer argued that things would be far worse for them in a Confederacy dominated by the Cotton states.

            One thing that is very clear. One of the things they held strongly against the free states was the extent to which they welcomed the Irish and European immigrants, because of their Catholicism and, except for the Irish, being non-English speaking and the extent to which “mudsills and greasy mechanics” had a say in public affairs.

  9. M.D. Blough July 17, 2013 / 9:54 pm

    When you look at how unsuccessful rebels were treated in European/UK history, the South got off easy. If Robert E. Lee had been a Hanoverian officer who had gone over to the Jacobite side in either rebellion and led troops against the Hanoverian kings’ forces, mercy, if he was unfortunate enough to be captured alive, would have been a discrete beheading in the interior of the Tower of London instead of the more gruesome and public forms of execution. If he were lucky, he’d have fled into exile and considered himself lucky to find employment in a foreign army.

  10. Chris Evans July 19, 2013 / 8:55 pm

    Everyone is wasting there time in reading what DiLorenzo, Fleming, and Groom think are the causes of the war.

    Do not purchase their books. Please try to find in a library a copy of Peter Parrish’s book from 1975 ‘The American Civil War’. I can’t believe how many things he gets right.

    I think one of the places that the causes are discussed in a concise, clear, and beautiful way is in this book. I think it needs to be considered as a one of the best, if not the best, one volume histories of the war (especially on the political issues).

    He really gets the issues right.


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